We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Visiting Kamikochi

Tel Aviv, Israel
Level Contributor
17 posts
1 review
Save Topic
Visiting Kamikochi

Hi all,

I am intersted in visiting Kamikochi, in early October (around 7th of October). Does anyone knows if there is an impressive foliage at this time of the year (I saw it picks in mid-October, and I don't know what it means about a week before).

Also, if I am interested in spending 2 days there, are there long trails? (But day trails as I can't carry equipment on my back)

Is there anywhere reasonably priced to saty there?

Thanks you,

Hila

Nara, Japan
Destination Expert
for Nara, Kamikochi
Level Contributor
8,133 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: Visiting Kamikochi

First off, I hope this won't be a huge letdown, but you might've needed to book your accommodation much earlier: early to mid Oct is the busiest time in Kamikochi. You sure will have fall colors here; yet they may not as picture-perfect as you'd want, the peak period usually being 20th. To get absolutely incredibly gorgeous ones from 7 to 8th, you'll have to trek the mountail path to Karasawa, which serves as a basecamp for hikers wanting to hit the peaks of Northern Alps and is a 7- to 8- or 9-hour-long strenuous trek one way if you start from the Kappa Bridge area... Even if you are not up to such a long walk, you can enjoy far easier ones along the river: point A to point B is about an hour walk one way, so go figure if you cover point C also.

As for the rates on accommodations, see:

www.kamikochi.or.jp/english/institution/

Please note: there's some above, which locations are not exactly in Kamikochi, particularly the ones on the first and second tiers.

Edited: 11:49 am, August 07, 2012
Tel Aviv, Israel
Level Contributor
17 posts
1 review
Save Reply
2. Re: Visiting Kamikochi

Wow, thanks for the quick reply!

About Karasawa - I understand that there is a hut there. Did you mean that it is also fully booked? Also, I understand that they provide food, but do they provdie matresses and blankets (I saw there are futons but I don't know what that means). I ask because I have knee problems and I can't carry much. Is it worth doing the trail for 2 days only?

Another option I found was taking the gondola up Mt. Kiso-komagatake. Do you know anything about it? Is there a nice folliage in early October? Are there nice day hikes there?

Thanks a lot for the help, I found it hard to figure out this information from the web..

Hila

Nara, Japan
Destination Expert
for Nara, Kamikochi
Level Contributor
8,133 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Visiting Kamikochi

I don't quite want to suggest you hit Karasawa, unless you are physically fit to trek long hours. That said, the reward is huge once you are here...

In Karasawa, there's two mountain huts where hikeres will be packed like sardines if they stay in them. ;) Two, or in the worst case scenario, three people have to share a single futon. A futon is 'a thick quilt or matress staffed with cotton used as bedding.' You can rent a tent so you can stay outside: 8000yens or so without meals. Given the hut stay is about 10000yen with 2meals, you may want to choose staying inside... In large rooms, men sleep below, ladies above.

I know nothing about Kisokoma, so have no comment on it here. But Shin Hotaka Ropeway, which is located near Kamikochi and is a Michelin 2star, also affords you with panoramic views: http://www.okuhi.jp/Rop/FRTop.html

Tel Aviv, Israel
Level Contributor
17 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: Visiting Kamikochi

should I book a place in advance in the hut? If so, how to do so? (all I found was a broken link). Also, if I stay in the hut should I bring something to cover myself with (like a sleeping bag) or do they provide it?

The Shin Hokata ropeway seems also like a great option (I am a backpack hiking kind of person, but considering my knees I have to be realistic :-( ). Do you know if there is a nice circular hike up there? (all options I found include going down by foot, which I prefer to avoid if not necessary to spare my knees). Do you think that there will be anice foliage there in this season (after I found that I am going almost in the foliage season to Japan I really want to catch it as picture-perfect as possible :-) )

And of course, thank you again for the help!

Nara, Japan
Destination Expert
for Nara, Kamikochi
Level Contributor
8,133 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: Visiting Kamikochi

Seems like you want to make it to Karasawa. The links below say you can reach Karasawa from Kamikochi in 6hours, but in my honest opinion/experience, you need to be quite athletic to do that. For average hikers, that 6hour-assent can only be made if they walk backpack-free and that without taking any rests along the way. So if you have a knee-problem, then you might as well skip Karasawa and do instead a less-strenuous hike from Shin Hotaka Ropeway Station to the lowest peak of Mt West Hotaka...

In case you are serious about trailing up to Karasawa, I suggest you go without a backpack. I hate to say this, but do note that if you get stranded along the way due to injury or something, you'll end up paying tons of money for your rescue operation: a chopper loaded with rangers has to fly over to fetch you back. So you may want to get insured for 1000yens at the bus terminal window where you submit your trekking plan. The distance to be covered from Kappa Bridge to Karasawa is only 15.34km by my 'bird-eye' mountain map, but you'd definitely feel you've walked twice as long if you don't walk light.

With all of that said, Karasawa would afford you with an unforgettable memory. Yes, you could walk in a circle to/from Karasawa from/to Tokusawa, which is on the taller-peaks side and is about 7km away from Kappa Bride. If you decide to stay at either one of the huts, you may like to fax them beforehand to reserve your futon (or a private room if available). I don't do this, um, don't really know ;) yet some guys do snore, which in another situation you'd be tempted to pinch their noses. ;) For your privacy or creature-comfort, you can rent a tent from either hut if you want, along with a sleeping bag and air-matress: 2500yens I guess. You'd be amazed to know there's so many colorful tents put up outside.

Karasawa Hut:

http://www.karasawagoya.com/english/

FAX: 81-90-2204-1300 

Karasawa Hyutte:

http://www.karasawa-hyutte.com/english/

FAX: 81-3-3211-8093 (Tokyo Office)

Nara, Japan
Destination Expert
for Nara, Kamikochi
Level Contributor
8,133 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Visiting Kamikochi

Forgot to say this: the peak period in Karasawa is usually from 7th to 12/13th.

Sorry I can't predict the exact date.

Nara, Japan
Destination Expert
for Nara, Kamikochi
Level Contributor
8,133 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Visiting Kamikochi

As I was rereading your last post, I got to know you were actually asking about Shin Hotaka. So my apologies here since I gave you unrelated info above.

There's no day-trip type of the circular trail if you start from the ropeway station. From here, all you can do is traverse (peaks after peaks of) the Northern Alps. Yes, you can walk down from that station to Kamikochi. I've never done that so far, but the way I see it, it's not as interesting, view-wise, as you'd find when you reach the lowest peak of Mt West Hotaka: Doppyo Peak, also reachable from the same ropeway station. So if you choose to have an alpine-feel and gorgeous colors, then you can forget about Karasawa and hike here instead. BTW, did you ever make it to a near-3000meter-above-sea-level place, except when you fly? No biggie if you are physically ok. Am no expert on this, yet even if not, altitude sickness won't start to hook you here. But you must brace for a bit strenuous 1hour trek through the mountain from that ropeway station to the mountain hut called Nishi-Hotaka Sanso, and another 1hour-long relatively flat trail plus 1hour hilly and rocky path. Right below the peak, you may possibly know you'll need to have some guts to clear your way through 2 portions of stout-chain-provided very short assent. Other than that, you never ever feel unsafe. About 3hours for out, 2hours in if counted from that station. So about 5.5hours for in and out from the station if you factor in a 30min rest at the mountain hut. That's the easiest possible alps day hike around here. You sure will be amazed by what you get along your way, not by fall colors only. That I can assure you.

Edited: 1:43 pm, August 08, 2012
Tel Aviv, Israel
Level Contributor
17 posts
1 review
Save Reply
8. Re: Visiting Kamikochi

Hi!

First - your information was relevant, since if I go to Karasawa I might do a day hike up there, so nothing was for free :-)

I hiked in Nepal and reached 5400m above see level (ahh, the good times when my knees functioned :-) ), although I can't say my body loved it. I started feeling the effect of altitude only around 3500 m so I guess I'll manage (although back then I had the time to get used to it).

About the trail, to make sure I understood: When you say "Doppyo Peak, also reachable from the same ropeway station" - you mean the highest station, right?

Also, would you say that the peak in Doppoyo peak in the same as Karasawa? (Meaning, if I pursue the best colors, is it the same to so for both destinations?) (Again - sorry about being so obsessed with autumn color - we just don't have things like this in Israel at all..).

Anyway, I think I will see how my knees feel - the Karasawa option seems like a lot of fun (and I sure miss long hikes), but the Doppyo peak seems to be a great option as well (thanks for that)

Nara, Japan
Destination Expert
for Nara, Kamikochi
Level Contributor
8,133 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: Visiting Kamikochi

Just a quick reply here:

<<About the trail, to make sure I understood: When you say "Doppyo Peak, also reachable from the same ropeway station" - you mean the highest station, right?>>

Yes, that’s what I was talking about.

<<Also, would you say that the peak in Doppoyo peak in the same as Karasawa? (Meaning, if I pursue the best colors, is it the same to so for both destinations?) (Again - sorry about being so obsessed with autumn color - we just don't have things like this in Israel at all..).>>

Karasawa and Doppyo Peak are miles apart from each other, the former being one of the peaks of Mt West Hotaka, the latter a mountain valley or col in the mountaineering jargon. As for Doppyo, the best colors can be had when you ride the ropeway car, since once you venture out from the top ropeway station, you are getting near to the limit in altitude where trees don’t exist. So in that respect, Karasawa suits your needs. But if you want a good alpine-feel with panoramic views unfolded before your eyes, off you go to Doppyo Peak.

Sorry I'm pressed for time since I'm up to my neck in work now, so let me give you further comment when I come home.

Nara, Japan
Destination Expert
for Nara, Kamikochi
Level Contributor
8,133 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: Visiting Kamikochi

At Shin Hotaka, beside what you see down toward the valley while riding a ropeway car, the red and yellow spots dotting the slope of Mt Ohkiba (located across the river from the 1st ropeway station) is simply amazing, surpassing the beauty, IMO, that tourists admire when they come to see ultra-famous Arashiyama (Kyoto) mountains. That's because of the difference in altitude: the higher you go, the more gorgeous the colors. Not sure if you like this, yet should you be interested in soaking in genuine hot sping bath in an onsen village nestled at the foothill of an alps mountain: Mt Yake, an active volcano, you may want to stay somewhere in Shin Hotaka. If you come, I hope for you to take a good look at the rocky peak of Mt Shakujo reflecting the golden rays of the evening sun: just as stunning as red maple leaves.

But there's one thing Kamikochi has that S-Hotaka doesn't: the picture-perfect river flow that's lined with birches and maples. Yes, S-Hotaka has a smaller river flowing through, yet the views of it are not that awe-inspiring. So first-time visitors to both places, when asked which one they choose over the other when getting back, they will probably favor Kamikochi.

As for Karasawa vs Doppyo Peak, it'll be a toss-up. When you think of fall colors only, Karasawa wins hands down for sure though. But if you're an avid hiker wanting to make it to one of the peaks, Doppyo is far easier to access to. A serious hiker will want to gain farther height from here to Pyramid Peak and then to the top of Mt West Hotaka. Likewise, he/she will be impelled to head from Karasawa to, say, Mt North Hotaka or Mt Oku Hotaka once they get here. Hate to be a scaremonger, but those peaks have engulfed countless lives of people thus far, who have been outlived by those of tens of thousands returning safe. So am not suggesting you do this since it's not risk-free, but if you're not an acrophobe, then you may want to enjoy the alpine feel to the hilt by climbing up the nearest possible peak from Karasawa: North Hotaka, 4hours in and out. Even if you don't, you sure face awesome colors in, and on your way back from, Karasawa. When I say 'on your way back,' I mean taking the route called Panorama on your way down to Tokusawa. There's a nice blog on it, so read: kamikochi.org/articles/experience/73-on-the-…

'Panorama Course' can also serve as a shortcut on your way from Tokusawa to Karasawa, but that involves doing quite hilly uphill slopes. So if you have a knee problem, you're best off avoiding it, I presume. Going from Kappa Bridge to Myojin to Tokusawa to Yokoo to finally Karasawa should be the route to cover, I reckon.

Lastly, I do hope you'll have a trip of a lifetime into Kamikochi, hunting for autumn colors. Have a blast!