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  • Takeshi Kazui

The Northern Japanese Alps Hiking at Kamikōchi

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

Kamikōchi 上高地 is a high mountain valley approximately 18 kilometers 59055.1ft in length.

The average elevation of the valley floor ranges between roughly 1,400m 4,600ft above sea

level at the south end and roughly 1,600m 5,200ft at the northern tip.

Kamikōchi is located in the Hida Mountains, the Northern Japanese Alps. The surrounding mountains reach 3,190m 10,470ft. Kamikōchi is bordered on its northern end by Mount Hotaka, and on its southern end by Mount Yake, an active volcano.

Mount Hotaka

Let's Get Started The Northern Japanese Alps Hiking


I saw many hikers at Kamikōchi, they seems to feel a great nature of Japan. I love the sound of the earth as I stomp my feet.

Freezing Breath

Snow-covered Northern Japanese Alps

I visited Kamikōchi in late autumn of 2019, at the end of October, with my friends.

We left Osaka at 9:30 p.m. and arrived there at 5:30 a.m., after an eight-hour bus ride; access from Osaka is listed at the end of this page.

It was still dark and early in the morning when I arrived at the bus terminal located halfway up the mountain. My breath was white and my lungs seemed to freeze when I breathed in the air, but I felt as if my body was being cleansed with every breath I took.

The Azusa River, steamy in the early morning cold.

From the bus stop, I walked through the woods and there was a river that breathed like me. It was quiet and the sound of the river flowing was like the heartbeat of the place. When I come into the wilderness, I am reminded that I am a part of nature.

Kappa Bridge

Kappa Bridge

This bridge is one of the most famous sights in Kamikōchi. It is a welcoming place for arrivals and a resting place for hikers. There are hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops around. By the time we reached the bridge, the sun had begun to rise and the temperature felt warm as we walked.

The Golden Mountain

Takeshi Kazui

Kamikōchi is an easy place to hike, but you will need a certain amount of equipment: water, a little food, climbing boots, warm clothes, and rain gear. Because the weather in the mountains tends to be changeable and unstable, especially in autumn in Japan.

Traditionally, the Japanese say it like it is "The autumn sky is as changeable as love.”

I hiked with the equipment shown in the photo. And I'm traveling to make friends with people overseas and in rural Japan, so if you know of any good equipment, please let me know, preferably inexpensive!

On the hiking trails we walked, there were encounters that kept us occupied: mossy green streams, leftover autumn leaves, and frosty fallen trees.

The Northern Japanese Alps shining golden in the morning sun.

Then the last thing that greeted us before we reached our first resting place, the lodge, was the mountain glowing gold in the morning sun. I gazed at the mountain for a while. It was a strange feeling, like being an adventurer in a fantasy world.

Next time, I'll continue this journey, talking about the mirror-like pond.

Access Guide

Let's get started the Northern Japanese Alps Hiking!

From Osaka

Osaka (Umeda)

9:30 p.m.


9:39 p.m.

Kyoto Sta. Hachijo Exit G3

10:45 p.m.


5:06 a.m.

Taisho Pound

5:12 a.m.

Kmikochi Imperial Hotel

5:17 a.m.

Kamikochi Bus Terminal

5:20 a.m.

This Bus Operator's Website

Scan or click on the QR code

QR code

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