By bus to Kamikochi
We travelled to Kamikochi by bus from Takayama. The first leg of the journey took us from Takayama bus station to Hirayu in about an hour. There we changed buses, with a wait of about 15 minutes, for one bound for Kamikochi.
No private vehicles are allowed beyond the entrance to the long Kappa tunnel that leads to Kamikochi; the only access is by bus or taxi, and when you get on the road you see why. It is very narrow and winding and even with those restrictions in place seems to struggle to cope with the traffic. We were stuck for a while behind a bus that was manoeuvring inexpertly to allow another coming in the opposite direction to pass (see photo three).
The views throughout our journey from Takayama were great, but on this last stretch spectacular - despite (or arguably because of) the very low cloud and rain. Do try to grab a window seat and have your camera ready!
The bus deposited us at the terminal near the centre of the park, where we had an early lunch
- National/State Park
We left Kamikochi as we had arrived, by bus, but this time bound for Shinshimashima. The journey took about an hour and the scenery was wonderful throughout. Unlike the day of our arrival, the sun was shining, the snowy peaks were visible and the views at almost every turn magnificent (apart from in the many tunnels). But these tantalising glimpses of Kamikochi in sunlight left several of us yearning to stay, myself included. And my new friend Sue was so captivated by this place that when we left she wrote a beautiful song inspired by our time here, which I have her permission to share with you all:
Kamikochi Mountains, performed by Jim and Sue - lyrics and music by Sue Lee-Newman ('all rights reserved , copyright October 2013’)
The bus took us directly to the station in Shinshimashima. There we had a 20 minute wait - just time to buy a drink and some fruit (wonderful Hida apples!) from the stall outside the station. Then it was on to the small local train bound for Matsumoto, a journey of just 30 minutes. Matsumoto has a direct connection to Tokyo's Shinbuka Station, but we dropped our bags in the coin lockers at the station and took a few hours to explore the town before continuing our journey. See my separate (forthcoming) Matsumoto page for more about our short visit there.
From Matsumoto the train to Tokyo takes about 2.5 hours, making a total journey time from Kamikochi of about 4.5-5 hours, depending on connections.
This is my last tip about Kamikochi. Please click here if you’d like to return to my intro page and leave me a comment.