Oct. 18th. 2022,
Okuhidaonsengo Kamitakara michi no eki
The second night at Okuhidaonsengo Kamitakara is different. It is not raining, and the morning promises fine so perhaps this is why it was much busier and rather noisy. Mostly chatter and car doors banging as, I suppose, people prepare to leave well before sunrise to scale high peaks.
Shuttle bus to Kamikochi
We were up before 6.30am but at least it was daylight. We drive the 10 or 15 kilometres back to Hirayu, Akandana car park for the shuttle bus to Kamikochi. Private vehicles are not permitted into Kamikochi beyond the Kama tunnel on R. 158, so the only options are a shuttle bus or taxi. If there are four of you, the taxi may be cheaper. The return bus fare is 2,090 Yen. The bus leaves every 30 minutes.
We get off the bus at Taishoike. So called as the pond was formed by an eruption in the Taisho era. From here, there is an easy walk along the rocky river though the woods of birch, beech and larch. This should be a blaze of colour at this time of year, but the display is very muted.
It is still a very pleasant walk, but by no means solitary, of a little over three kilometres to the Kappa Bashi (bridge). Here there are restaurants and nearby the bus terminal. This spot is the thriving hub of Kamikochi. Far fewer people venture beyond this point.
Onward there is the trail to Myojin ike (pond), another three kilometres. Although fewer people venture this far, the school parties do. This upper section of the trail is more spectacular. The mountains closer and more towering while the river offers some stunning vistas.
Arriving at Myojin ike, we were surprised to find a shrine and astounded to learn there was a 500-yen entry fee to view the pond! But actually, that is the entrance fee to the shrine (Hotaka-jinjya). It remained glimpsed, through the trees, from afar.
From Kappa bashi, we take the shuttle bus back to Hirayu and then drive Abo Toge (1800m high) as it is fun and usually fantastic for autumn leaves, especially over the top of the pass on the Nagano side. This year, pretty enough but not astounding.
From the top of the pass, you can see Mt. Yakedake and Hotaka. If you take the Abo tunnel, this trip only takes 5 minutes, and you avoid the steep, winding, narrow road that is Abo Toge. But why would anyone want to do that?
Then shopping in Takayama and off to Nanamori Kiyomi michi no eki for the night.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.