The other day I visited Kamikochi deep in the Northern Japanese Alps. While Kamikochi is normally known as a summer hiking and scenic attraction, the Winter has plenty to offer as well. Even better, you can have almost exclusive access because the tunnels are closed off to cars. If you are looking for a Winter adventure day trip from Takayama or Matsumoto, this is your place.
As I mentioned, the tunnels into Kamikochi are closed in the Winter due to heavy snow. Anyone wanting access must walk about 2km to get to the scenic Taishoike. From there, it’s another 3km or so to the famous Kappabashi Bridge with stunning views of the surrounding Northern Alps. In the Spring, you might get away with just hiking boots but in the middle of Winter you will definitely want to bring snowshoes, cramp-ons or even cross country skis.
It’s a 1-hour drive from either Takayama or Matsumoto to Kamikochi. Please note: you cannot park at the entrance to the tunnel. The best way is to park at the official parking area, then hire a taxi to take you to the tunnel entrance. This costs around 3,500 yen each way.
Because Kamikochi is technically closed, nothing is open in the Winter. Make sure to bring a lunch, hydration and anything else you need for the day. The information center is closed and the trail signs are often buried in snow so make sure to bring a map or my personal favorite, the YAMAP app.
For a more detailed itinerary and for group rates, check out the GoNagano blog https://www.go-nagano.net/en/experience/id=19170
Kamikochi is an absolutely stunning place in every season! To add some spectacular scenery or to get some exercise, I highly recommend Kamikochi in the Winter!