NORTH JAPAN ALPS TOUR SEPTEMBER 2014
There were many enlightening moments on this tailor-made tour to the mountains of Nagano Prefecture. Such as that moment the sun broke through the mist and forest canopy on our ascent of Chogatake (literally, Butterfly Peak).
It was a real pleasure to guide Sue and Alex during this trip which had been many years in the planning! I hope the itinerary might form the basis of a new tour walking and exploring some of the finest mountain areas in northern Nagano.
We travelled from Tokyo to Kamikochi, where we hiked for four days before continuing, via Shinano Omachi , to Tateyama (where we climbed one of Japan's three holy peaks), walked the Old Salt Road, enjoyed the peace of Otarimura village, Obuse and Nagano, and then headed for Karuizawa and Tokyo.
After the North Japan Alps we succeeded in climbing the outer rim of Asama, a quietly smoldering volcano. We were appalled to hear of the disaster on Ontake which occurred not long after our tour ended, and were thankful not to have suffered the fate which too many hikers did on Ontakesan .
Starting in Edo (present-day Tokyo), from the same spot Matsuo Basho set off on his Narrow Road to the Deep North journey, we were to discover delicious chestnuts in Obuse , new season's apples which weighed our packs down, stumble along ridges and over unlikely peaks with shrines on top, enjoy extraordinarily good food and sake, and meet wonderful people and kindness on the way – a truly magic recipe for a memorable journey.