to the highlands!
the kanji for kamikochi 上高地 literally means ‘highlands’. that’s probably because some of the tallest mountains in japan are clustered there, and this is the shrine of the japan alps. here, even the terminal station of the kamikochi buses is 1500m above sea level.
summer is the best time to do climbs but there we were, straddling winter and spring, confronted by snow which were on its way to become melted and green that had not quite decided whether to turn lush. most certainly not kamikochi at its best. also, snow trekking was not something we were adept at, but there were many easy-walking trails to explore. we figured, a day-trip would be sufficient for us to get acquainted with one of japan’s exulted national park.
we took an early train to shin-shimashima bus terminal (30 minutes) and then transferred to a bus to kamikochi bus terminal (60 minutes). here is an excellent step-by-step access guide which i found (and followed) while researching kamikochi.
the bus trip was pretty long and windy but we got rewarded with views like this.
we randomly picked one trail and started walking. here’s the view as we looked back behind our shoulders (the forward view was actually of the kappa bridge which was teeming with snappy-happy tourists).
along the way, we saw them. they were gnawing at some tree barks and didn’t mind us much. still, in order not to frighten them, we dutifully stayed on the trail.
then we came upon the guardian of the bridge. he seemed immobilised. when we got nearer to cross the bridge, he kindly saunter off and let us pass.
we paid myojin lake a visit but it was pretty small so quite a letdown. actually the walk in the woods was already breathtaking enough.
Lunch was at the first hotel we came by. It was late and we were ravenous. simple and delicious.
then we rounded the other part of the trail.
that night, we rewarded ourselves with very delicious chicken hotpot and sumiyaki set. but due to miscommunication, only the first sumiyaki order arrived and finally the shop waived the charges for it. rather disappointing because the sumiyaki was very very good. anyway, i highly recommend it (maybe restaurant name is komachi).