The day starts at NORTHSTAR Outdoor Adventure around 8:00 AM. Before the tour starts all the equipment must be ready to go. Making sure everyone has warm wear, gloves, hats, food & water, and most importantly warm boots. After registration, gear check, and using the restroom, we depart in the NORTHSTAR shuttle around 8:30.
The shuttle takes us down the mountain and along the Azusa River. On the drive we pass mountain tunnels, rivers, steep terrain, and can even spot natural hot springs with steam bursting out. The shuttle takes approximately 30 minutes where we arrive at Kama Tunnel, the entrance into Kamikochi.
After getting off the shuttle and unloading gear and snowshoes we stand ready to hike in front of the dark tunnel. The guide will share safety information and details about the trip. Once everyone is ready, we turn on our headlights and start hiking through the tunnel. There is approximately 2 km of tunnel that we must conquer in order to reach the beautiful scenery of Kamikochi.
We arrive at Taisho Pond around 10:20 AM where we can see the vast array of mountains of Hotaka in the distance. Here we can use the restroom. Depending on weather conditions the trees may be icy from the mist of the pond. We then hike along Taisho pond looking for any wildlife in the pond and river. We stop at the crystal clear Tashiro pond and take a quick break.
For those are only interesting in half-day tours, Tashiro Pond is as far as the tour will go. This is perfect for children and those who don’t want to hike a full day. This tour will arrive at Kama Tunnel around 12:30 to finish.
Extended Full-Day Tour
For Full-Day tours we continue hiking along the Azusa River getting closer and closer to the mountains ahead of us. We arrive at Kappa Bridge around 12:30. The bridge is an icon of the National Park because of the picturesque view of Mount Hotaka and the Azusa River. Here we have lunch and refuel and rest our legs. The brisk wind can cool us down quickly so we add an extra layer to keep us warm. After taking in all the scenes of the mountains we use the restroom and make our way back to where we started.
On the way back we pass the boarded up lodges that are closed in the winter and continue to walk along the road that is now covered in snow. The sun is slowly setting as we are in the valley and so it will start to get cold. We continue our way along the road to Taisho pond and take another restroom break.
We take our final looks at the Kamikochi area and head back down the tunnels to the entrance of Kama Tunnel, arriving around 3:00 PM. The shuttle is waiting for us to take us back to civilization. Our legs may be tired and cold but the views from Kamikochi will be something that we can take home with us.
We return back to NORTHSTAR and take care of rental equipment and any final details. The Tour is over and the guide says their final farewell.
For those wishing to continue the mountain experience, the local Hot Springs is located just across the street. Feel free to relax and enjoy the natural Hot Springs!
Our snowshoe tour season will start from Christmas time and be end in mid March. The best season would be mid January to mid February.
We sometime receive the tour requests for mid November, after Kamikochi green season is closed, to mid December. Unfortunately it is very unstable whether during that season. There are lots of rain and it is just cold and you will not be able to see any scenery in the pictures above.
Please plan to visit there for the best season.