Kamikochi, the southern hub of the Japan Alps National Park, opened for the 2010 season on April 27th with Swiss horns and a Lion dance, but the unofficial start line has just been crossed as the spring-like Nirinsou Anemone burst into life across the forest floor. The beds of white flowers takes their name from the twin stalks (Ni meaning two) and can be seen at Tokusawa, a popular extension route to the Myojin trail that takes around 2 hours round-trip from the Bus Terminal.
To get to Tokusawa, take a bus to Kamikochi then cross over the Azusa River at the centrally-located Kappabashi Bridge. Next, stroll upstream along the boardwalk through the Dakezawa Marsh, which looks murky enough to house a Kappa, the mythical water imp after whom the famous bridge was named. Follow the path upstream for 1 hour to Myojin, stopping off outside the shrine to pay your respects (and a 300Yen entrance fee). Nearby, Kamonji Goya marks the spot where Walter Weston’s Guide, a local hunter by the name of Kamijo Kamonji, lived from 1880 onwards – you can still see the British Missionary’s original ice axe hanging above the fire-place. Cross over Myojin bridge then head on upstream to Tokusawa (60 mins one way).