This post was last updated on February 1st, 2020 at 06:18 pm
Kamikochi is, without a doubt, the most beautiful piece of nature that we have seen in Japan. This region in the northern Japanese Alps offers the most spectacular mountain landscapes of Japan. It looks like a fairytale landscape with crystal clear melting water, snowy peaks, and impressive lakes. There are no other places in Japan with more beautiful nature.
Our Experience in Kamikochi, Paradise on Earth
Paradise on earth. You could call it that. We think New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries on earth and Kamikochi is actually a “small New Zealand”. Nature here is so overwhelmingly beautiful and untouched. A must see!
Please note – Kamikochi is only open from roughly April to November.
And the best thing about Kamikochi is that it is not very developed. You will find only a few hotels, a few souvenir shops, mountain huts, and hiking trails. Private cars are prohibited in Kamikochi, and access is only possible by bus or taxi.
This makes it not only the most beautiful, but also one of the most peaceful areas of Japan.
Why Go to Kamikochi?
Very simply said; because it is one of the most beautiful regions of Japan. It is for a very good reason that many locals come here during the weekend to go hiking or to make multi-day hikes. We found it to be one of the highlights of our trip through Japan.
This is a picturesque area all year round but is at its best during the fall flower season, which usually peaks in the middle of October. Along with the months of May to July, this is the best time to visit Kamikochi.
The area is also particularly beautiful during the summer months when the clear blue sky makes the area enchanted. You will also find monkeys, bears, birds, deer, and many more animals here.
Hiking and Walking in Kamikochi
Many travelers and locals come here for hiking. There are various walking and hiking routes in the national park, as well as campsites and mountain huts. One of those routes is to go from Taisho Pong to the Kappabashi (Kappa) Bridge, a popular route.
However, you can also choose to stay in the park for several days and do a multi-day hike to discover more of the area.
Taisho Pond to Kappabashi Bridge
There is a lot to do. As stated above you can walk very well here. But that may be more for people who have a lot of time. Most travelers come here, unfortunately, only for one day or a few hours.
If you do not have that long, it is advisable to start your route at the Taisho Pond. From here you walk to the Myojin Bridge. From there you walk further to the Kappabashi Bridge.
There are beautiful, well-kept trails here. It requires no walking experience and it is only a few hours’ walk.
From the Kappabashi Bridge, the hiking trails lead to the valley and to the tops of the surrounding mountains. If you really want to climb mountains you can.
The surrounding mountains are more challenging and are only recommended between mid-June and mid-September.
The region of Kamikochi is not only known for its beautiful nature, but also for their hot springs. There are a number of resorts with a natural heat source such as the Kamikochi Nishi-itoya Mountain Lodge. Here you can enjoy fresh hot water for a fee. Please note that you do not have private baths and therefore walk around completely naked with a lot of other Japanese and Chinese people.
How to Get to Kamikochi
There are no trains around Kamikochi and the trains that partly run there are not covered with the Japan Rail Pass. So you will have to pay extra to come to Kamikochi. This is possible in two ways. By train from Matsumoto and partly by bus. From Tokyo, it is too far for one day.
The Japan Rail Pass is not valid on this route!
To Kamikochi By train
From Matsumoto Station, you can take the Matsumoto Electric Railway to Shin-Shimashima Station (30 minutes). When you arrive there, take the bus to Kamikochi (60 minutes). All this will cost you around 4,450 yen per person, around $40, but it is worth every cent!
To Kamikochi By bus
There are also a small number of direct buses from Matsumoto Bus Terminal to Kamikochi. A one-way fare costs 2,450 yen p.p. while round-trip costs 4,550 yen. Just as much as taking the train.
Best Time to Visit Kamikochi
The best time to visit Kamikochi is the months of May and June (spring) and the summer months (July and August). In the spring it has the most beautiful nature. Everything is beautifully green and there will be clear skies. In the summer it is a bit warmer, but it can also be cloudier.
In the fall, around October, it is cold, but the forests are colored in beautiful gold.
TIP – Keep in mind that Kamikochi can be very busy in the summer months.