To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano

Nagano, Japan

Changi Airport Terminal 1

This adventure is:

Nagano: To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano

Your Organizer

“Hi, it's u­­­s, Georg­i­n­a, Bri­tt­a, and ­Lee­ Lin­g­”

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Highlights

I guess many people have been to Japan and enjoy their food, culture, onsens, and many other things. Possibly not many have climbed their Alps, so I have decided to do an easy hike to Japan's most spectacular mountain scenery, the Kamikochi mountain ranges and also visit Tateyama mountain ranges. It is not all mountains, I will be visiting the quaint famous villages Shirakawa and Takayama and old their towns. Staying in ryokans with onsen in onsen villages and of course eating the traditional Japanese food. I hope you will like this trip as much as I do, and I hope to meet you soon.

Highlights of this trip
  • Visit Shirakawa, a UNESCO site, the village is home to several dozen well preserved gassho-zukuri farmhouses
  • Hike Kamikochi, Japan's most spectacular mountain scenery
  • Climb an active volcano Mt Yakedake in Kamikochi
  • Visit the rural old town, Takayama
  • Visit Matsushiro's castles, samurai houses, temples and gardens, and possibly the only underground Imperial Headquarters
  • Take a ropeway up to see the magnificent scenic ranges of Tateyama
  • Dip into the famous onsens of Okuhida's Valley near to Takayama
  • Pass through the metres high snow wall
We will begin our journey to the old city of Matsumoto and Matsushiro.

To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanMatsumoto castle seen at noon, photo by mzagerp  licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0  

Matsumoto castle is one of Japan's premier historic castles, also a National Treasures of Japan, it is also known as "Crow Castle" due to its black exterior.

We will proceed to Matsushiro.  Matsushiro retains its samurai houses, temples and gardens of its castle town days, some interesting museums, and even a tunnel complex from World War II, Matsushiro Daihonei.  Matsushiro Daihonei an Underground Imperial Headquarters is particularly interesting for me and it is possibly the only Underground Imperial Headquarters.

To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanEntrance to Matsushiro Daihonei an Underground Imperial Headquarters, photo by Qurren licensed under CC BY 2.0  

Matsushiro Daihonei an Underground Imperial Headquarters - a complex of subterranean tunnels dug by Korean forced-laborers, to provide an invincible hideout for the Emperor and the Imperial Japanese government at the end of World War II. We will visit the 500m-stretch of tunnel and a small museum adjacent to the main entrance detailing the brutality of the treatment meted out to the construction workers on the site.  After which we will head to  Kamikochi, the Alps of Japan.

To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanKamikochi bridge, the starting point to the Alps

Kamikochi, Japan's most spectacular mountain scenery. It is designated as one of Japan's Special Places of Scenic Beauty and sometimes referred to as the "Japanese Yosemite Valley.  We will start the hike from Kappa-bashi bridge, then to Lake Taisho, Myojin Pond then finally to Takezawa Marsh taking lots of photos along the way.  The Alps rise another 1500 meters from there, creating a stunningly magnificent background with the beautiful aquamarine Azusa River in the foreground.

To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanAn autumn view of Kamikochi, photo by mendhak licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 


To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanWe will take a walk in Kamikochi Forest this is a scenary during summer

To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanMount Yakedate literally, "Burning mountain" is an active volcano in the Hida Mountains photo by knzozi licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0  

We will be climbing Mount Yakedate a 6.4km day hike to 2,444 m.  This hike is not considered difficult, but we will have to climb some ladders to reach the summit. 

To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanTakayama, an old town, photo by ankurp  licensed under CC BY 2.0  

After our workout in Kamikochi, let's head to Takayama.  Takayama an old town, the narrow streets of its Sanmachi Suji historic district are lined with wooden merchants’ houses dating to the Edo Period, along with many small museums.The architecture is something to admire, and the story is the best carpenters in Japan are from Takayama. All of the oldest buildings are still in use today, and things are done traditionally.   Staying in the oldest onsen in of Okuhida's Valley.

To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanAn onsen in Okuhida Onsen Town, photo by きうこ licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0  

We will be staying over at Hirayu one of the the oldest onsen in Okuhida.  Okuhida's Valley near to Takayama is famous for its hot springs, and especially so for its outdoor baths with views of the surrounding Northern Japan Alps.  There are as many as 140 outdoor onsen in Okuhida.

After which we will head to Shirakawa, a UNESCO site, the village is home to several dozen well preserved gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. We will hike to viewpoints, walk around the villages, and visit the well preserved farmhouses.  
To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanVillage scene in Shirakawa, photo by tsuda licensed under CC BY 2.0  

To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanTraditional house in Shirakawa,  photo by Esteban Chiner licensed under CC BY 2.0 

To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanHilltop view of Shirakawa, photo by Jason licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Finally we will head to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.  The Tateyama Mountain Range, part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park. Depending on the season we made this trip we can enjoy the varying scenary during different seasons of the year. In spring, accumulated snow, especially around the upper sections of Midagahara and Murodo, form a majestic snow corridor whose snow walls reach up to 20 meters high.  We will also take the Ropeway that provides great panoramic bird's eye views of the surrounding mountain scenery, and the 186 meter tall Kurobe Dam.

To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanUp the ropeway an autumn view of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine, photo by hansjohnson licensed under CC BY 2.0 

The single-span Tateyama Ropeway that provides great panoramic bird's eye views of the surrounding mountain scenery, and the 186 meter tall Kurobe Dam.

To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanThe majestic snow corridor in Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route whose snow walls reach up to 20 meters high during spring time

To the Swiss Alps and villages of Japan - Nagano starting at Nagano, JapanKurobe Dam of Tateyama, photo by Kabacchi licensed under CC BY 2.0 

We will head back to Tokyo, some may wish to extend their stay and I will highly recommend it as Nagano has many other beautiful and interesting places waiting for us to explore.  But I will leave it to the next time.

Additional Info

The plan is to fly into Tokyo Narita with Singapore Airlines and fly out from Tokyo Haneda Airport.

Itinerary

Day 1 Singapore to Tokyo to Takayama (stay in Takayama)
Day 2 Takayama old town sightseeing (stay in Takayama)
Day 3 Shirakawago sightseeing (stay in Toyama)
Day 4 Alpine route Tateyama sightseeing to Nagano (stay in Nagano)
Day 5 Matsushiro sightseeing, Matsumoto castle (stay in Matsumoto)
Day 6 Kamikochi hiking (stay in Kamikochi)
Day 7 Kamikochi hiking (stay in Kamikochi)
Day 8 Kamikochi to Tokyo to Singapore

Reviews

  • I had a amazing trip with a group of friendly and warm tour mates. Carly was such an assuring tour leader. Excellent and safe Vietnamese driver, Jerry. well spoken English Vietnamese guide Tommy. I enjoyed myself very much and look forward for another trip!

  • Excellent short trip with beautiful verdant countryside and charming local tribal people not corrupted by tourism yet . Be prepared for long drive on narrow winding mountain roads.

  • Best trip ever ! Everyone laughed and enjoyed the hols as if we have known each other all our lives instead of meeting for the first time ! Everyone kept their cool when faced with an unforseen delay . The scenery at Ha Giang is simply superb . There are so many small towns within the mountains with... Read more Best trip ever ! Everyone laughed and enjoyed the hols as if we have known each other all our lives instead of meeting for the first time ! Everyone kept their cool when faced with an unforseen delay . The scenery at Ha Giang is simply superb . There are so many small towns within the mountains with so many minority races living together . Their costumes are so colourful and the ladies' headgears are so lovely to gawk at . If I could , I would love to go again . Highly recommended for gungho people with "throw everything to the wind" attitude . Fantastic local guide and driver (Tom & Jerry) and pats on the back for Carly (Singapore guide) too . Thanks .........rosse and raymond . Read less

  • Georgina was great in: 1) giving reminders so that people can un-RSVP for others on wait list to get a spot. 2) giving clear instructions, photos, links on how to get to the meeting point, 3)explaining why everyone had to be on time and what the program is expected to be and when it might end. ... Read more Georgina was great in: 1) giving reminders so that people can un-RSVP for others on wait list to get a spot. 2) giving clear instructions, photos, links on how to get to the meeting point, 3)explaining why everyone had to be on time and what the program is expected to be and when it might end. Late evening slot was a good idea as we got to see the night installations at The PathFinder portion, but food stalls already closed upon exit. There are toilets inside the exhibit in Fort Canning Center itself. Cleaner than the mobile toilets outside. Thank you for helping to get us tickets when it is so difficult to do so. Read less

  • My wife, son and I never regret of signing up this trip. My 8 year old son enjoyed the walk on the rocky beach. Best moment of the walk was that we came closed to the corals, crabs ???? and ???? shrimps. Thank you threeplaygrounds!