Japan: Kamikochi

For my last day in Nagano Prefecture I had set my sights on Kamikochi, known as one of the most scenic parts of the Japanese Alps. However, the night before I had pretty much given up all home. It had been raining heavily and it was so cloudy that you couldn’t really see the mountains around Matsumoto ((Mountains hiding, of course, had already become a bit of a theme for this trip.)), much less those any higher up.

But the next morning things looked very different. It was a bright day, with a clear blue sky and a slight chill in the air — it was, after all, October. The forecast still wasn’t promising but I thought it was worth the risk.

Luckily I was right.

Much like my trip to Yosemite last year, I didn’t stray too far from the main, well trodden parts. I’d love to have had more time, but you know how it is…

I started at the main Bus Terminal (who says travel isn’t glamorous?) and took a coach up the twisty roads to the Kappa Bridge area. A Kappa, incidentally, is a sort of troll or water sprite if you believe Wikipedia. People crossing this part of the river with things balanced on their heads look, if you have poor eye-sight, a little like a kappa, hence the name of the bridge.

As a contrast to Tokyo you really couldn’t get much more complete. There were times when there were no other people visible at all! But one thing that did, surprisingly, creep into view was this snow monkey.

They are, perhaps, most famous for living near an onsen (hot spa) which is a few hours drive from where I was in Kamikochi. I was, therefore, surprised when this one sauntered out from the forest and onto the path. It wasn’t tame exactly, more indifferent to the people who were all stopped in their tracks and taking pictures.

It walked along for a little bit and then jumped back into the trees.

Even without more macaque’s there was still plenty to see. The mountains, the autumn foliage ((Marge: Next to Spring and Winter, Fall is my absolute favorite season.
Just look at all this beautiful foilage.
Lisa: It’s not “foilage,” mom, it’s “foliage.” Foo-liage.
Marge: That’s what I said, foilage. It doesn’t take a nucular scientist
to pronounce foilage.
Lisa: [growls])), the greens and reds contrasting with the blue sky. Really beautiful.

By the time I got back to the bus terminal it was pretty much dark. It had remained pretty much fine the whole day. I’m really glad I made it.