"Kamikōchi " is a preserved natural park that I looked forward to its beauty on this trip. Kamikōchi is a famous mountainous highland valley located in the Hida Mountains range, in the western region of Nagano Prefecture, Japan.
I followed the state of autumn leaf color through facebook, IG, google and other various channels to make sure that I would get to see the best color when I travel. Normally the best period to see the autumn leaf color would be the middle of October, but I scheduled my trip at the end of it. Fortunately, this year the leaves turned a bit later than usual around Japan Northern Alps area. So I decided to visit there on October 25th 2016.
I departed from my accommodation in Karuizawa which took me almost 3 hours. It would be convenient to take the highway. But instead I opted for narrow routes around valleys and villages, so I could observe the scenery along the way.
At beginning of the route, the leaves did not turn their color so much.
We set our destination on the navigator as the bus stop that we have to transfer to (private car is not allowed on Kamikochi). We departed. The sky started to get cloudy and it tended to rain according to weather forecast. Getting closer to the destination that we set, I got curious as when I checked in the Google map, the bus stop should be in the outskirt of town, but we were passing quite a big town. So we checked the navigator again and realized that we input the wrong destination which has an exact same spelling. The bus stop that we were supposed to go was 60 kms away. Though it does not seem that far, the estimated time was more than 2 hours because it was a mountain route.
I took a deep breath and rechecked the destination, inputting the destination code instead to make sure that we are going to the right place.
As we were getting closer to the mountain, the leaves started to look yellow, orange and red. Though we could not stop for pictures that much because we had limited time. We arrived at the bus stop safely. It was 2 hours later than our schedule.
Though we got lost, it was a beautiful route.
To get to Kamikochi faster, we decided to take a taxi instead of waiting for bus. The taxi costs 4200 JPY per trip. If we got on bus, the fare for 5 people would cost about the same. We negotiated with the driver that we would like to let some of us get down at some beautiful spots to take pictures and take others to the tourist center first. We were lucky that staff of the restaurant at the bus stop could speak English well, so he helped us talking to the driver. The total taxi fare for both going up and coming down was 8400 JPY but we had to come back before 16:30.
On a big taxi, we gradually went up to Kamikochi. The autumn leaves were very beautiful on the way, beyond description. The road was on the side of a canal and there were small waterfalls along the way. We could not stop to take pictures everywhere but the taxi driver let us stop at some bigger spots.
This is the bus stop that we had to park and transfer to bus or taxi.
Taxi driver was very kind to let us stop and take pictures.
Some of us got down from the taxi at an Onsen within the national park and took a walk instead, so we can get good pictures. The rain kept falling down.
Our lens got wet from the rain so we had to get something to cover them. Changing lens for our camera was almost impossible. We intended to use a tripod to get the best picture but the weather and time limit made it difficult.
We hurriedly walked to the highlight spot which the Kappa bridge and made it right on time to the taxi.
View form the bridge
Bus and taxi stop
Even though it was exhausting and we got lost and stressed from driving but it could not compare to the great memories we collected along the trip. Scenery of Kamikochi under the rain was truly memorable.