Japanese Alpine Wilderness Wonderland

Kamikochi is an idyllic valley high up in the Northern Japanese Alps. The sight of the crystal clear waters of the Azusa River streaming under the photogenic (and much photographed) wooden Kappa Bridge surrounded by lush green forests with the 3000-meter class peaks towering in the background is one of the most beautiful scenes in all of Japan. In order to not spoil the wilderness, only a handful of lodges and shops (centered around Kappa Bridge) have been allowed and private cars are prohibited. For nature lovers, Kamikochi is a must-see.

Nature Walk along the Azusa River Basin

From Taisho Pond to the Tokusawa hollow, the Kamikochi basin stretches for approx. 6 km with Kappa Bridge and the bus terminal roughly in the middle. A stroll around the center could be done in 1-2 hours while a full hike from Kappa Bridge to Myojin Pond, crossing the Azusa River and walking downriver to Taisho Pond would take 3-4 hours. However, spending the night is highly recommended so as to be able to take a quiet evening or early morning stroll without the hordes of day-trippers.
Kamikochi’s highlights, from Taisho Pond on, are as follows:

Seriously Rewarding Mountain Climbing

Kamikochi serves as the starting point for some of the morest popular Northern Alps climbs. Here are just a few:

Want More of the Northern Alps?

If you like Kamikochi, try these other two locations: Norikura Kogen (highlands), an alpine village at the base of Mt. Norikuradake (3026 m), an outdoor adventure mecca, both in summer (trekking, mountain biking) and winter (skiing, snow shoeing); and Shirahone Onsen, a hot spring resort nestled in a secluded valley, famous for its milky-white mineral water. Both can be reached by busses from Shin-Shimashima. (2 and 4-day passes are available.)
If by car, from Sawando, go east 2 km for Route 84 to Norikura, or west 1 km for Route 300 to Shirahone.


By Public Transportation

From Matsumoto take the Matsumoto Dentetsu train to the end of the line, Shin-Shimashima (30 min., 680 yen) then transfer to a bus to Kamikochi (1 hr. 15 min., 2000 yen). Alternatively, during peak season Alpico offers busses straight from Matsumoto Station (2600 yen o.w., 4600 yen r.t.)

By Car

From Matsumoto IC on the Nagano Expy, take Route 158 west 33 km (45 min.) to Sawando, the closest you can go.Park there and hop on a bus (30 min., 1025 yen) or taxi (4200 yen for up to 5 people). (Note: Private cars are not allowed into Kamikochi.) The Visitor Information Center is located at the Bus Terminal.


Kamikochi is only open from late April until mid-November.

Kamikochi Imperial Hotel

Shirahone Onsen

Norikura Highland Onsen


Kamikochi is only open from late April until mid-November.