While many Westerners love to hike for athletic activity, walking in the Japanese Alps in times past was considered a spiritual practice. It’s lovely to think about combining physical exercise in a fantastic physical environment and consider it a way to worship our love of nature at the same time. Hiking here in the early fall is a must: Kamikochi is rich with birch and Japanese larch trees, and the fire-red and sunset gold autumn foliage are a spectacular sight. Hikers recommend an easier jaunt to Kamikochi by hiking along the Azusa River from Taisho Pond (a volcano formed pond) to Myojin Bridge, which is mostly flat and can be done in an afternoon. Climbs to surrounding peaks are more challenging. Taisho Pond is a beautiful site, its reflections on the water creating a double illusion of the beautiful natural environment. Be sure to check when the trails close before visiting.
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Azumi, Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture 390-1520, Japan