Dear sir/madam, I am Tanti from Indonesia. If I want to walk along the Azusa river on 8 April (I assume Komikachi is still closed) is it possible? If possible, in which area is the nearest I could stay whether Hirayu Onsen area or Matsumoto area? Looking forward to hearing from you. ThanksRegards, Tanti
Kamikochi is indeed closed during winter and doesn’t officially reopen until the end of April. Buses begin running to Kamikochi from mid-April (this year on April 15th, 2017).
While it is possible to walk to Kamikochi, I do not recommend it as it takes 1.5 hours from the Kamikochi tunnel entrance to the park and there are no facilities open in the area. The Azusa river runs from Kamikochi towards Matsumoto, but the roads along it do not have room for pedestrians, so walking along the river there would be dangerous.
You may be interested in some other rivers and ponds around Nagano. Nezame-no-Toko in Agematsu Town of the Kiso Valley is a beautiful formation of rocks around the Kiso river, not far from the post towns of the Nakasendo.
The Tenryu River flows from Lake Suwa in Central Nagano down into Southern Nagano’s Ina and Iida areas. Tenryu-kyo along the JR Iida line is a large ravine carved by the river over thousands of years. You can take a boat tour and enjoy the view from the water.
(Lake Suwa itself is also a wonderful place for a stroll, enjoying hot spring baths and local sake. It has recently received a lot of attention for its likeness to one of the main backdrops of the movie “Your Name.”)
Karuizawa is also a great place for strolling or cycling in nature. The woods of Karuizawa are quite peaceful and there are a number of water features around town to visit. Kumoba Pond and Shiraito Falls are highlights, and there are plenty of stylish cafes and shops to see as well.
I’m sorry that I can’t be of more help with your planning, but I hope one of these other areas may catch your interest.
Tanti-san, If I may add to Blair’s comment:
Some people do snow shoe in to Kamikochi in the winter but you need the right equipment and, as Blair mentioned, all the facilities at Kamikochi are closed for the winter. With the right preparation, it can be a rewarding experience. FYI, an acquaintance went at the end of January and reported there was 1 meter of snow on the ground at Kamikochi.
Hope that helps!