KAMIKOCHI Official Website

Kamikochi image photo
One of the most scenic spot in Japan. Feature vast virgin forests of birch trees and Japanese larch trees.

Pioneer of Mountain Climbing in Kamikochi

A Buddhist priest from Toyama region, Banryu was said to be the first climber of Kamikochi mountains. In Banryu's era, mountain climbing was practiced as natural worship according to the doctrines. As time shifted to Meiji period, mountain climbing was introduced as a leisure and sport activity by some Westerners.

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An English goldsmith, William Gowland was hired by Meiji Government with a group of western engineers, and introduced his first mountain climbing experience in Yarigatake to a magazine in July, 1877. Gowland first used the term "Japanese Alps" in his article, and it became common name to describe Japanese mountains located in Nagano prefecture. After Gowland, an English reverend, Walter Weston climbed Yarigatake mountain, and introduced Kamikochi mountains in his book "Mountaineering and Exploration in the Japanese Alps".

The mountain road and trails from Shimashima to Yarigatake had hurriedly prepared for the visit of His Imperial Highness Prince Higashikuninomiya in 1918, who also became a Japanese prime minister in post war period. After this event, mountain climbing became popular leisure and sport in Japan.

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The History of Development

Before Meiji period, only woodsman had accessed to Kamikochi. In Meiji period, Hyakujiro Kamijo from the foothill village Shimashima had gazed at further Tokugo Pass only in the summer time. He was a pioneer for Kamikochi cattle ranch. His ranch was called as Tokusawa Pasture in Tokusawa district, and had other pastures in Konashidaira and Myojin district. These pastures had a beautiful scenery with snow covered mountains and became popular sight seeing spots among tourists.

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After the eruption of Yakedake in June of 1915, the volcanic mud slide dammed the flow of Azusa River, and created a pond called Taisho Pond. Kamikochi Imperial Hotel construction materials was carried on boat crossed this pond.

1927 became the unforgettable year for Kamikochi with three major news. Ryunosuke Akutagawa, a prominent novelist in Japan had introduced Kamikochi and Kappa Bridge in his well known novel "Kappa" published in March. In July, Kamikochi had selected as one of the most scenic spot along with other seven famous sight seeing resort. And in August, His Imperial Highness Prince Chichibunomiya had climbed Okuhotakadake and Yarigatake mountains from Kamikochi, and this news had made Kamikochi famous. After this year, the number of tourists in Kamikochi had doubled.

In 1934, Kamikochi area has designated as the Chubusangaku National Park. The pastures in Kamikochi had to be closed with accordance to the regulations, and tourist buses carried many visitors to Kappa Bridge. Year after year, the numbers of tourists with their own car had gradually increased, and finally the traffic regulation was introduced in 1975. According to the present restrictions, tourists are prohibited to visit with their own cars to Kamikochi. However in the future, tourists will be able to enter Kamikochi from Sawando by railway.

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Preserve Kamikochi for next generations

In 1909, a regulation for the preservation of mountain plants was enforced. Since then, Japanese Rock Ptarmigan, Antelope and Char were designated as Precious Natural Animals, and capture of these animals was banned by the regulations. Kamikochi was also designated as National Park, and a group called "Kamikochi Preservation" was established by local community in1965. They have been preserving and maintaining the virgin nature of Kamikochi through voluntary activities. Natural environment of Kamikochi completely depends on tourists' manners and their activities.

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  • Regulations
  • Don't Feed & Disturb!

    Don't Feed & Disturb!
    Do not disturb or feed birds, insects, fish or other wild animals.

  • Don't Harm!

    Don't Harm!
    Do not harm or damage wild flowers and plants.

  • Don't Dump!

    Don't Dump!
    Carry all your garbage home with your splendid memories.

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Weather and temperature of Kamikochi

Kamikochi is a slender basin situated at 1500 meters above sea level, and the temperature there is 5 to 10 ℃ lower than Matsumoto city (600 meters above sea level). The lowest temperature in early spring and late autumn sometimes falls below the freezing point. It is recommended to prepare winter clothes for snowy weather in mid-October to early May. And it is better preparing a jacket for summer time hiking, since the lowest temperature sometimes become less than 10℃. Don't forget to bring rain gears for changeable mountain climate.

Weather and temperature of Kamikochi
The temperatures on the above graph represent the average high temperatures.

Remember to follow these regulations in order to preserve the natural environment of Kamikochi.

Clothes for Kamikochi Hiking

Short Stay

To enjoy hiking, comfortable walking shoes (trekking shoes or sneakers) and outfits are recommended. Many trails are unpaved in Chubusangaku National Park including Kamikochi. It is better to pack extra clothes even in the summer time to prepare for the changeable mountain weather.

Long Stay

Temperature changes significantly within a day in Kamikochi. Don't forget to prepare several warmer clothes and rain gears for the sudden climate change.

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