As Kamikochi, in the northern Japanese Alps, is closed for half the year due to winter weather we made sure to slot in a weekend trip to this beautiful mountainous area before the roads were closed.
We had aimed to co-incide our trip with viewing the koyo (autumn leaves) which are apparently particularly spectacular in the northern alps. Sadly we hadn’t taken into account the altitude, so no leaves for us in Kamikochi itself…though there were some pretty spectacular views on the journey there.
Despite the lack of vibrant red, yellow and orange leaves, the scenery was breath-taking.
Crystal clear rivers,
and shrines nestled within the forest.
Our day hike around the area took us to see the famous decayed trees rising out of Taisho pond. These trees, formed when an eruption of a nearby volcano dammed the Azusa River, are almost a century old.
We even came across a monkey or two…
A walk in the freezing mountain air definitely works up an appetite but luckily, as it seems with everywhere I have visited in Japan, there was a local speciality to gorge on – delicious apples and anything and everything that can be made using them!
After a hour or two’s hiking in the fresh mountain air and a deliciously warm soak in the onsen in our hotel, I felt completely removed and rejuvenated from my hectic life back in the big city. It’s quite a journey from Tokyo so it’s probably worth taking a day off to add to your weekend, but Kamikochi is totally worth it (leaves or no leaves!)