This Walking Tour in Japan Will Bring You Closer to Mountains and Lakes

Locals call it "a place where god arrives."

Kamikochi Information Center

4468 Azumo, Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture
Contact: +81-263-95-2433
Open from mid-April to November 15, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
*Kamikochi is designated as a special scenic spot and special natural monument. For environmental protection, please use public transportation such as the shuttle bus and refrain from driving cars to enter.

Ever since Walter Weston, an English missionary and mountaineer who stayed in Japan from 1888 to 1895, introduced the charms of the Northern Japanese Alps to the rest of the world through his books, Kamikochi has become famous both in and out of Japan. It doesn’t just have one of the most picturesque mountain landscapes in Japan; it’s also known as “a place where god arrives.” 

Located at the foot of the northern Japanese Alps, 1,500 meters above level, Kamikochi has many places of interest worth visiting. Follow our walking tour below to see some of Kamikochi’s best spots. 

Weston Monument

Created in honor of “the father of Japanese modern mountaineering,” the Weston Monument is a testament to Weston’s love for mountains. To get there, cross the Kappa Bridge from the Kamikochi bus terminal, which is located at Kamikochi’s entrance, and take a walk by the right bank of Azusa River to the lower reaches for about 25 minutes until you reach an open space where the Weston Monument stands. From there, you can see the Kasumizawa Mountains and Roppyaku Mountain, which are popular photo spots.

Tashiro Lake

Continue walking towards the lower reaches of the river, and you’ll see Hozumi Bridge and Tashiro Bridge on your left. After crossing the bridge and on the right, walk on the left bank of Azusa River until you see Tashiro Lake in a moor in the middle of a primeval forest. Sediments from the Yake Volcano created a dam on Azusa River and formed a shallow lake. Since it is not that deep, it looks like a field paddy dotted with islets. It’s a great place to visit, no matter when you go. Expect fresh green leaves in May, ginkgo water crowfoot and flowers of day lily in the summer, colored leaves in autumn, and hoarfrost a little later on.

Taisho Lake 

Farther down from Tashiro Lake is Taisho Lake. It’s the largest lake in Kamikochi and was formed when Mount Yakedake erupted in 1915 and the mud created a dam in Azusa River. It’s also one of the most symbolic sceneries in Kamikochi, with the clear water mirroring the magnificent peaks of the Hodaka mountain. Keep in mind, however, that Taisho Lake’s look also changes greatly, according to the time and weather. When it gets hazy because of the change of temperature in the morning and evening, you can see a tasteful landscape with the blighted trees covered in thin mist.

After you have enjoyed the scenery, make for the bus stop in front of Taisho Lake Hotel.

If you’re not ready to go home just yet, you can also visit Myojin Lake and Tokusawa in the upper reaches of Azusa River. Just remember to dress warm. Compared to the city, the temperature here is lower and the weather changes more easily, so make sure to take your jackets and rain gears with you! 

Provided by Japan Walker™, Tokyo Walker™, and Walkerplus™ (14 November 2017)

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