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Kamikōchi is a remote mountainous highland valley within the Hida Mountains range, in the western region of Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

It has been preserved in its natural state within Chūbu-Sangaku National Park. It is designated as one of Japan’s National Cultural Assets, on the list of Special Natural Monuments and Special Places of Scenic Beauty. It is sometimes referred to as the “Japanese Yosemite Valley,” although it is considerably smaller than its Californian counterpart.

Kamikōchi is a high mountain valley approximately 18 kilometers in length. The average elevation of the valley floor ranges between roughly 1,400 m (4,600 ft) above sea level at the south end and roughly 1,600 m (5,200 ft) at the northern tip.

Kamikōchi is located in the Hida Mountains, the “Northern Alps” of the Japanese Alps. The surrounding mountains reach 3,190 m (10,470 ft). Kamikōchi is bordered on its northern end by Mount Hotaka, and on its southern end by Mount Yake, an active volcano.

The Azusa River flows the length of the valley, filling Lake Taishō at the base of Mt. Yake. Lake Taishō received its name because it was formed by the eruption of Mt. Yake in 1915, which was part of the Taishō period in Japan.

Because of the relatively flat topography of the Kamikochi Valley, marshes and ponds are a common feature, including the Takezawa Marsh, Tashiro Pond, and Myojin Pond. As the waters are mainly from melted snow runoff or underground aquifers, the water temperature is cold, even in the height of summer. The Tokusawa area at the far northern end of the valley served as a grazing area for horses and cattle until 1934 when the area was completely integrated into the park.

Kamikochi is a very popular hiking destination, there are an abundance of mountain huts and camping sites that make overnight hiking easier to manage. The most famous hike in the area is Yarigatake which is easily accessible from Kamikochi and often combined with Oku-Hotaka as a multi-day hike. Wikipedia

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An image from Kamikochi

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