jpn042013 chapter 3: the valley of the alps

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.

train board

30 minutes to get through all the stops before shin-shimashima – pretty fast!

kamikochi line

highland rail – the kamikochi line

shin-shimashima bus terminal

shin-shimashima bus terminal

the bus trip was pretty long and windy but we got rewarded with views like this.

taisho pond, from the bus

taisho pond, from the bus

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).

start of trail

start of trail

there's still a lot of snow

there’s still a lot of snow 

walking on

heading towards myojin lake

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.

happily eating

gotcha! happily eating

hmm ... these people are boring

hmm … these people are boring

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.

the guardian

the guardian

near the myojin lake

near the myojin lake

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.

myojin reflections

myojin reflections

wooded paths

wooded paths

hand in hand

hand in hand

out of the woods

out of the woods

Lunch was at the first hotel we came by. It was late and we were ravenous. simple and delicious.

beef set lunch

Lunch! beef set

udon

udon

then we rounded the other part of the trail.

finally, a bit of sun

finally, a bit of sun

a mountain

a mountain

cool scenery

cool scenery

the other view

closer 

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).

chicken hotpot dinner

chicken hotpot dinner

freshly minced chicken

this goes into the pot – freshly minced chicken

sumiyaki

sumiyaki

 

 

 

 

 

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