Kamikochi is the gateway to the Japanese Alps and is one of the most spectacular mountain retreats in the area, offering absolutely breath taking views. The plateau is about 1,500m above sea level and roughly 15 kilometres long and is situated in the Azusa River Valley. The area is covered with virgin forests of birch and Japanese larch trees. The area has only seen minor development with a few hotels, shops and hiking trails. Private cars are also banned from the region, so it is only accessible by bus or taxi all of which helps maintain its incredible and nearly untouched scenery.
Kappabashi is a 36.6 metre long wooden suspension bridge over the Azusa River and is the symbol of Kamikochi. It is from this bridge that hiking trails begin, going up or down the valley to the summits of the mountains. Some of the hiking trails are very easy and only take a short period of time, but for more experienced hikers or climbers, ascending one of the mountains can be a rewarding task, although it is recommended that this should only be attempted between June and September.
Autumn is a popular time to travel to this area, due to the autumn foliage. It is also not uncommon to see monkeys or birds along the route. The area tends to become quite busy over the summer holidays and in October for the autumn colours. The area is open from late April until mid-November but is closed during winter. For those interested in seeing the Japanese alps and that have an interest in some of the best views Japanese nature has to offer, Kamikochi is a highly recommended area. While it is possible to visit as a day trip, we would recommend staying a night in the area for a bit more privacy and tranquillity.