Monthly Archives: November 2021

Photography in Kamikochi, Japan (2021)


If you go through the Abo Tunnel and head towards the mountains

Twilight spreads across the viewfinder.


Coffee in one hand, a bag in the other

I can’t hear you when you say “Yoo-hoo.”

By the murmur of the river

Behind my eyelids

It’s a fleeting mountain photo.

Fading away

The town that used to be lively has now quieted its voice.

What are we afraid of?

What are we afraid of?

I will never forget.

The journey has an end.

And a new journey begins.


Photography in Okuhida, Japan (2021)

It’s a weekend morning, 6 a.m. I filled up two empty plastic water bottles from the water server in the dining room. In the morning, I changed my clothes and headed for the mountains as usual.

I had breakfast at the service area restaurant I usually use. I sat by the window so that I could see the view of the mountains. It was a cloudy morning.

I drove about 30 kilometers north to Okuhida. As I drove along Route 471, I encountered a group of monkeys.

I took Prefectural Road 475, the “Starry Sky Road,” and arrived at Okuhida Onsengo. Okuhida Onsengo is a group of five hot spring villages, Hirayu, Fukuji, Shin-Hirayu, Itao, and Shin-Hodaka, all of which are nestling in the bosom of the Northern Alps.

I paid my bill, parked a car in a pay parking lot near the Shin Hodaka Onsen, and walked to the Shin Hodaka ropeway station on the north side of the street. When I left the parking lot, I saw the Gamata River flowing by and Kasagatake (2,898m) towering ahead. It was a beautiful mountain with a solid, shade-shaped form.

At the ropeway stop, Shinhodaka Onsen Station (1,117m), they sell local sake and other famous products from Okuhida. The ropeway had motorized double-decker gondolas that rocked and kept the ropeway level.

The second floor boarding area was spacious. There were oil paintings of mountain scenery on the walls. I got on the ropeway and stood as far back as I could. It was noon without sun.

It would be raining by the time I reached the observation deck at Nishi Hotodaka Station (2,156m). The light was just what I needed.

This time I decided to bring my camera and a light gray raincoat. The camera was a small but rigid, lightweight stainless steel, capable of shooting continuously at up to about 3.5 frames per second. If you have such a camera, you can take pictures of anything a crazy person might do and leave them as evidence.

The ropeway had arrived at Nabedaira Kogen Station (1,385m). I left the station exit and walked along a small path of white birches, climbing up the slope of the mountain.

I felt as if I could hear birds chirping from the white birches with their distinctive white bark. A bird was whistling happily.

I couldn’t find the bird. Or maybe there was no such bird in the first place.

So I got back on the road and walked to Shirakabadaira Station (1,380m). The birch trees had been replaced by Quercus Serrata. I could enjoy a variety of wildflowers. I could see some mountains in the distance.

After about four or five minutes, I arrived at Shirakabadaira Station. I entered the entrance by the view lounge. I walked and passed by the bakery, and I got to the front of the line for the ropeway.

I got on the ropeway again and stood as far back as I could. The second ropeway was 2,598 meters long and took seven minutes to reach Nishi Hodaka Station (2,156 meters).

I entered the observatory on the roof of the station. I stood at the front of the observatory and listened carefully. The summit breeze tickled my back. It was chilly.

When I opened my eyes, I could see Kasagatake (2,898m), Yarigatake (3,180m), and other mountains of the Northern Alps against the hazy blue sky.

Then I looked at my watch. The time was one o’clock.

We also had a panoramic view of the North Alps, which represent Okuhida, from Mt. Hakusan (2,720m) and Mt. Norikura (3,260m) were faintly visible in the distance.

As for Mt. Yarigatake, it is the fifth highest peak in Japan. At 3,180 meters, it is a symbol of the Northern Alps. There is no other mountain that expresses the shape of “spear” so realistically with its pointy shape.

Okuhodaka, with its beautiful rock walls and alpine appearance, is full of charm that cannot be overstated. Centered on Okuhodakadake, the fifth highest mountain in Japan, there are a series of 3,000-meter peaks including Kitahodakadake, Karasawadake, Maehodakadake, and Nishihodakadake.

Yakedake showed a beautiful bell-shaped mountain. It is the only active volcano in the Northern Alps, and in June 1915, an eruption caused by a phreatic eruption dammed the Azusa River, changing its course and creating a pond. It is said that the volcanic ash from the eruption was so great that it covered the entire sky.

It is called the Yakedake explosion. The active volcanic activity of Mt. Yakedake, which had continued since 1907, has now calmed down after a few days of small explosions in 1963.

I left the observatory and went outside. I walked along a path that wound through the trees of the virgin forest. There were many things to see. Wildflowers and alpine plants were blooming along the path.

Oh my God, why am I here? What am I thinking? There is the trailhead. I’d better turn around now. The area was getting darker. It’s getting darker and darker……

There was a hut in front of the trailhead. I went inside the terrace of the hut and circled the area. I went to the door and took a picture of the map with my current location on it. I left the terrace.

I stood there and looked at the motionless, misty mountains. I thought. It was time to go back.

I can have lunch at the coffee shop on the fourth floor before I start my journey. If I could make it to the fourth floor, there would be a reward waiting for me.

I went up to the fourth floor “Mount View” and lined up in front of the ticket machine. There was beef curry on the menu. Beef curry does not have animal rights. I don’t like beef curry. I can hear the cows screaming.

That is why I continue to eat soba. I had Unkai Soba. Frozen soba? What a mess. And frozen soba is always the same. Wait a minute. I don’t have time to deal with frozen soba.

I went down the stairs and stepped into the store. The store had a large selection of products from the ropeway’s top station. It had been a long time since I had left my everyday world. I walked to the ropeway stop, where I waited in a long, long line. Then we took the ropeway down the mountain.

After descending, I returned to the parking lot, changed my clothes, and headed for Hirayu Otaki Grand Waterfall. I had a quick snack and some sweets.

Why should we go to the waterfall?

We can go to the waterfall and enjoy looking at it and caressing it. There is also the Hirayu hot spring nearby, where we can take a stroll through the picturesque hot spring town and soak our bodies in the footbaths and open-air baths. It was not a bad idea, but the crowds made me not feel like going.

It took me quite a while to reach Hirayu Otaki Grand Waterfall. On the way, I saw a herd of Suffolk sheep in the pasture. Hirayu Otaki Grand Waterfall has a drop of 64 meters. It is one of the three most famous waterfalls in Hida.

Its grandeur may be unparalleled in Japan. It looked much more elegant. I looked at the waterfall with serious eyes. Then I walked back along the Hirayu Otaki forest path.

These were the events of the last summer in Okuhida that I remember.