Winter Wonderland: Snowshoeing in Kamikochi

The Matsumoto area offers breathtaking scenery all year long, with each season bringing its own unique beauty.
After having seen Kamikochi‘s autumn splendor last year, I decided to see what it had in store for February. Although getting there in winter is more difficult, making the extra effort, if you’re an avid day hiker, is more than worth it.
Kamikochi’s surroundings are peaceful and pristine. White snow blankets the landscape. Instead of the hurried buzz of buses and high heel-clad tourists, all you can hear is the meditative “crunch, crunch” of snowshoes on the white trail.
The beauty starts shortly after the Kama Tunnel at Taisho Pond. Overlooking the pond is its creator, Yakedake. This active volcano erupted in 1915, causing mudslides which created the pond by damming the Azusa River. The beginning of the trail wanders alongside the Azusa River and upon snow-covered boardwalks. On the way you may spot rabbit tracks near your own footprints, trout in shallow inlets, or monkeys searching for food in trees or on the rocky shore of the river.

Your final destination is Kappa Bridge. In the summer, this is the busiest site in Kamikochi, but for now, it’s quiet. Once there, you can take a well-deserved rest and admire the turquoise Azusa River and the soaring peaks of Nishihotakadake, Okuhotakadake, Maehotakadake, and Yakedake.
Please allow for a full day’s hike. It takes about two and a half hours from the starting point of Kama Tunnel to Kappa Bridge, not including breaks. The trail is relatively flat, but hiking in the snow requires a lot of energy. Be prepared for the winter conditions and be in relatively good physical shape. There are a few good informative websites that include maps, transportation information, and local inn listings. Please remember that there is no winter transportation to Kamikochi or open facilities, so you must drive and hire a taxi from the parking area or stay at an inn that provides transportation.

12 Responses to “Winter Wonderland: Snowshoeing in Kamikochi”

Jeremy says:

Hi I am very interested in going snowshoeing in Kamikochi this coming February. I am finding it difficult to find any information on tour guides on the internet here in Australia. Also would you able to tell me if they do overnight camping trips?
thanks
Jeremy

Andy Matsuo says:

Jeremy,
We are sorry for this late response. No shops, lodges or hotels open in winter Kamikochi, at all. So, winter Kamikochi is a little dangerous (also, sometimes small avalanches occur). I think no one camps there in winter.
There are some irregular Japanese tours to there. I know some English tour guides, so I can ask them if you need.

ken says:

Hi, I’m interested to go hiking in Kamikochi this winter. I will be in nagano and gifu area from 24 – 29 Jan 2011. How can i join a tour?

Ken

Andy says:

Hi Ken,
A company ODSS (Outdoor Support System) seems to hold winter Kamikochi tour. But, they don’t have English website and I am not sure they have English tour. I can ask them or some of my friends might guide you personally if you want. Should I ask them? What date is convenient (it might depend on the weather)?

sony says:

Hi,
I will be in Matsumoto with my wife on Jan 25 -27, ..How can I join a tour to Kamikochi?

Andy says:

Hi Sony,
I asked a professional nature guide of Kamikochi, Mr. Uematsu, who can speak English to reply to you by e-mail or comment.
Have a nice trip!

akitake uematsu says:

Sony
At first I’m very sorry that my response was too late.I’m a nature and mountain guide in kamikouchi area.I can go to kamikouchi with you by snowshoeing if you want.I have a time jan 26.27.
then plese contact to me,I tell you schedule,fee in detail etc

yoann says:

Hi Akitake,

i am yoann and will be in mastsumoto in the next days (february 3rd)
i would love to walk to kamikochi,
i read that you are a mountain guide and could bring me there.
can you please let me know if you would be avaiable around that date? and how much that would be ,
i give you my japanese phone number:
090-6319-3844

please call me,

bye

Anna says:

Hi. Can someone please tell me if Kamikochi would be a good area to go in April. My husband and I are looking for something to do this weekend and enjoy snowshoeing. Is there still enough snow? Or could we just hike?
Thanks!

Andy says:

Anna,
Please browse photos in this blog.
This year, snow seems to remain more than usual year, but, trails are not covered enough for snowshoeing. I recommend you to hike with boots and bring snowshoes if you want.
This reply might be late, sorry.

s says:

Hi,

How about in December? Is that a good time to visit? Would there be a lot of snow?

Andy says:

It depends on the date in December and also weather of the year you will visit.
Usually 10cm – 50cm of snow falls by Christmas.
Refer to photos in last year’s blogs dated early-Dec and late-Dec.