Kamikochi is a famous river and hiking spot in the Japanese Alps, between Takayama and Matsumoto.  It offers hiking routes for any type of person, as well as hot springs and camping sites. It’s a truly beautiful place, comparable to the Swiss Alps.

Budget travel tips

  • Get of the bus at the Kamikochi Bus Terminal, then pick up a 100 yen map in the Sightseeing Center.
  • Try to plan your trip so you don’t stay in Kamikochi, as the hotels can be very expensive.

Things to do

Walk Around Kamikochi River

A stunning and beautiful, but easy walk around the area.  Will take 2-3 hours depending on your speed.  After getting off the bus, just walk north along the river (there are lots of English maps and signs around), then cross the river on the second bridge (Myojin Bridge) and make your way back around.

Myojin Pond and Hotaka Shrine Okumiya (FREE)

Interesting pond and shrine surrounded by trees and sunshine!

Takezawa Marsh/Wetlands (FREE)

Not far from Myojin Pond, these wetlands are full of all sorts of wonderful colours and eerie trees.

Reverend Weston Memorial Plaque (FREE)

This plaque is dedicated to the English man who popularized mountaineering in Japan, particularly in the Japanese Alps.

Foot Bath (FREE)

Just outside Kamikochi Hot Springs, relax your feet in this free foot bath. More enjoyable than looking at my feet!

Taisho and Taisho Pond Area (FREE)

Take your time around this area to explore the little paths around some beautiful ponds and mountain views.

Hiking in the surrounding mountains

Yakedake (焼岳), which leads you up to a smoldering volcano,  is a great hike. The crater lake is a stunning site on a summer day. It takes about 5-7 hours there and back.

Chogatake Peak (蝶ヶ岳) is recommended if you want to stay away from the crowds as much as possible. It takes about 6-8 hours there and back. 

The entrances to all the trails are well signposted on the maps and signs around Kamikochi. There are numerous other mountains to hike, so if you want to do more it’s a good idea to buy a hiking map from the shop on the second floor of the Information Centre, next to the restaurant.

How to get there

Due to harsh winter conditions, Kamikochi is closed from mid November to mid April.

First, make your way to Takayama.  From Takayama, take the Hirayu Onsen/Shin-Hotaka line bus (Nohi Bus) to Hirayu Onsen (60 mins, 1,530 yen), then take the Kamikochi line bus (Nohi Bus) to Kamikochi (25 mins, round trip 2,000 yen).

If coming from Matsumoto, take the Matsumoto line bus (Nohi Bus) to Hirayu Onsen (90 mins, 2,300 yen), then take the Kamikochi line bus (Nohi Bus) to Kamikochi (round trip 2,000 yen).


Hostels and Cheap Hotels

It’s cheaper to stay in Takayama or Matsumoto because Kamikochi can be done in a day unless you want to do a few days hiking.

Compare prices at Booking.com

Published by Matthew Baxter

Japan travel writer and onsen addict