Date: 20th October 2016
Continuing my hike from Tashiro Ike, I soon sighted Kappabashi (Kappa Bridge) after 30 minutes strolling along the Azusa River Trail.
The crowd around Kappabashi is noticeably larger, for obvious reasons – the bus terminal and tourist information center are located here, and several hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops can also be found in the surrounding area.
The naming of this wooden, suspension bridge was thought to be from Kappa, the green mythical water creature found in Japanese folklore.
The bridge was further popularized by Akutagawa Ryunosuke’s Kappa book which was published in 1927.
Wasting no further time, I continued the hike on the trail to Myojin-ike (Myojin Pond). In 15 minutes, I was already at Dakesawa Marsh, another scenic spot in Kamikochi.
The hike from Kappabashi to Myojin-ike took me roughly an hour.
There were significantly more hikers / tourists along this trail. Note that I was hiking here between 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
The weather was great, the leaves were turning colors, and the sights were splendid.
Another bridge can be seen before the left turn to Myojin-ike area.
After passing through some shops and lodges, I paid the 300 yen admission fee to see Myojin-ike. Nearby is Hotaka Shrine, which hosts the Ofune Matsuri (Boat Festival) every year on October 8th.
Myojindake (Mt Myojin) can be seen clearly from the pond, and is sometimes reflected on the pond’s clear water.
Water flows underground from Myojindake, avoiding the pond from freezing even in winter.
Myojin-ike was my favorite part of this hike. The view was spectacular and I was stepping on the edges and rocks in order to get a shot of every angle around the pond.
I was back in Kappabashi area at about 11.30 a.m. and was already hungry for lunch by then. Conscious of time, I gobbled a set of curry rice and beer before heading to the bus terminal.
Using my round-trip ticket, I hopped on the bus and alighted at Shin-shimashima station, which was the last stop. From there, we waited for the Matsumoto Dentetsu train headed for Matsumoto. The same bus ticket is used here, so it is not necessary to make another purchase.
This trip was definitely worth the time and I hope to return here to hike other more difficult trails.
From Nagano / Matsumoto:
- Direct buses from Shinjuku, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagano and Matsumoto operated by Alpico. A round trip from Matsumoto would cost 4,550 yen and takes 1.5 hours, while a round trip from Osaka or Kyoto would cost as much as 10,200 yen and would take as long as 7 hours.
- Train from Matsumoto station to Shin-shimashima station, then transfer to bus to Kamikochi. The cost and time taken is the same as taking a direct bus from Matsumoto Bus Terminal. If you are coming from Tokyo, take the bullet train from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (roughly 1.75 hours, 8,200 yen), then transfer to JR Shinano (2,840 yen, 55 mins) / Shinonoi (1,140 yen, 1 hr 15 mins) line bound for Matsumoto.
- Nohi Bus from Takayama to Hirayu Onsen (1 hr), then bus from Hirayu Onsen to Kamikochi (25 mins). You can buy a round trip ticket at 5,040 yen.
Even though Kamikochi is not accessible by private cars, if you wish to drive, you can park at Sawando or Hirayu (600 yen per day). From there, you can take a bus to Kamikochi (20-30 mins).
Further reading: Kamikochi Official Site