Earlier in the summer I went hiking through one of the most beautiful national parks in central Japan. It’s called Kamikochi and is located in Nagano Prefecture. Outside of Japan Nagano is more famous as a snowboarding and skiing paradise and the host of the 1998 Winter Olympics.
It’s also quite famous abroad as the home of the internet sensation and meme-worthy Japanese Snow Monkeys.
Inside of Japan Nagano is just as famous for Komikochi, the most beautiful national park in western Japan.
I think tourists aren’t as familiar with Kamikochi because it is difficult to get there. The only way to get there comfortably is by car and there are months where the park is closed to visitors because of the snow. It’s such a shame because it is one of the most beautiful places I have been to in Japan.
I really think Kamikochi is worth more attention and fame. Even though I went on a day that had rather crummy conditions, it was still very memorable for me. It was cloudy, rainy, and mist covering most of the mountain peaks, yet, it was still very magical.
I’ll let the pictures that I took speak for themselves.
As for our trip, my friends and I drove to Kamikochi and took a bus to the base of the park. From there we hiked a few hours through the site seeing areas into inner Kamikochi and stayed at a mountain lodge.
Most people use this lodge as a base for climbing the park’s inner and more challenging peaks. There was a group of Korean mountain climbers also staying at the lodge that were leaving for a weeks worth of climbing the peaks in Kamikochi. We, however, just wanted to peace and quiet of the mountain air. In the morning, we hiked back the way we came.
A friend recently asked if I was leaving Japan next month which place in Japan I would make a point to go back to and visit one more time before leaving. I couldnt think of a good answer. Everything was special but nothing really stood out in my mind. I settled on Okinawa but in my heart I knew that wasnt quite right.
While putting this blog post together, I was reminded of his question and I knew the real answer was that I would like to hike through Kamikochi again. I would sit by the river and eat my bento. I would chat with the lovely artist living in his tent. I would stay in the mountain lodge and listen to the sound of the river and birds.
I’ll definitely be back. Hopefully on a clear day!