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Kamikochi national park is a small basin some 1,500 meters above sea level on the upper stream area of the Azusa-gawa River, which runs through the western part of Nagano. This popular resort area offers some of Japan's most spectacular mountain scenery and enjoyable hiking trails. The Hodaka Mountain Range, Mt. Yake-dake and the Jonen Mountains surround Kamikochi, which is a part of Chubu-Sangaku National Park. It was Walter Weston, a British missionary and mountain climber, who introduced Kamikochi to the world in the 19th century. Since then many climbers have come to know about this scenic climbing destination, often considered to be one of the most scenic spots in all Japan.
The symbol of Kamikochi is the Kappa-Bashi Bridge, a 36.6-meter-long and 3.1-meter-wide wooden suspension bridge over the Azusa-gawa River. With the Hodaka Mountain Range rising in front and the volcanic Mt. Yake-dake in the south billowing white smoke, Kappa-bashi is known as one of the most scenic spots in Kamikochi for photos or for hiking. From the Kappabashi, hiking trails lead up and down the valley and towards the summits of the surrounding mountains. These trails are fairly easy to navigate, making Kamikochi a popular nature tour destination for travelers passing through the Nagano mountain range on the way to see snow monkey in Jigokudani Park.
The simplest way to enjoy a day in Kamikochi is by hiking the trails along Azusa River from Taisho Pond to Myojin Bridge. It is a mostly flat terrain which requires no hiking experience and only a few hours time to complete. The climbs to the surrounding peaks, however, are more challenging and only recommended between mid June and mid September by experienced climbers. Kamikochi is particularly beautiful during the autumn foliage season, which usually peaks in mid October. Many nature lovers and hikers flock to the area to enjoy the stunning koyo Japanese autumn leaf scenery along the mountain range. In addition to leaf viewing, there's a wide range of alpine flora and other Japanese flowers that can be viewed from May through October, with the best time being mid May through July. While bears are rarely encountered, there are various birds and a few monkeys roaming around the lush wilderness of Kamikochi.
If you're a nature fan looking to take breathtaking photos during your next vacation, look no further than joining a tour through Nagano to enjoy Kamikochi. Ask your travel agent about our affordable line of Japan tours, or join a custom private tour through Nagano complete with your own personal tour guide.
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