Out in the Kami Kochi area in Nagano prefecture in Japan, the opportunity arose to travel, reconnoiter, and photograph the northern alps of Japan for a mountain expedition.
Kami Kouchi, also known as the “Yosemite of Japan”
is a very beautiful place known for its virgin forests and pristine waters. With over 70 species of wild birds, a variety of unique plants, and a big mountain range surrounding the area, Kami Kochi is one of the best scenic places to visit in Japan.
For Adam Go, this is the second time visting Kami Kouchi. The very first visit Adam Go had was about ten years ago. Although not much has changed, the only differences noted was that the water was not as cold as it was back in the day and there’s a lot more people now compared to when the region was first visited. Maybe it was just a really unlucky hot day.
The water from the river is naturally cold even during the summer because it comes directly from all the snow and ice from the mountains not too far away. But this time, it was just cold… not ice cold. Although my memory could be playing some sort of trickery, I remember imagining how awesome it would be to put a case of beer in the river to really chill it and then drink all of it while just kicking back with some friends in the wild.
Not sure what the reason why I didn’t get the same ice cold feeling but it could be global warming or it was probably just an unusual hot day. (Note: I don’t have any scientific record to backup my claim, although I wish I did. I’m just expressing what I remember ten years ago.)
Here’s a zoomed shot of the mountain in the center of the well known Kami Kouchi region.
Another shot taken horizontally…
I think three shots of this damn beautiful mountain is enough to avoid banal monotonous blogging so I’m going to show you a couple of images I captured while trekking through the forest.
Here’s a pic of a butterfly on a flower called “Azami” (Thistle flower) in the forest of the Kami Kochi area.
Here’s an Aoji ( Green Black-faced bunting bird)…
Although there were hundreds of birds singing in the forest, this was the only bird that I could glass with my EF 70-200mm F2.8L simply because it landed right above me. It was definitely PURE LUCK! For the hundreds of other birds, I just couldn’t find them because it was very difficult to locate any of them through the dense green leaves of the forest. I could have trespassed into restricted area to take better pictures but it’s not worth damaging the pristine environment just to take a nice picture. As a note, photographers should always respect the rules and the environment around them. It’s more about being professional and courteous towards the natural environment and other photographers
Anyways, in regards to avian/wildlife photography, it’s pretty fun!
Going Higher and Higher!
So after a brief 2 hour hike through at Kami Kouchi, I went to a place called Norikura-dake aka Mt. Norikura. Mt. Norikura is one Japan’s famous 100 mountains and is the third tallest volcano in Japan. At an elevation of 3025 meters (9,927 feet), due to time constraints, I only got to climb the smallest of the peaks called Mao-dake which is at an elevation of 2,760 meters. I wanted to climb everything but there was no time. That’s the thing with guided bus tours… no independence… Anyway, enjoy the pics below!
Can you see that spec of dust near the center of the image. That’s not dust on the sensor… it’s actually a sillouhette of a Rock Ptarmigan as we know as a Partridge. However, in Japanese, It sounds better because it’s called “Thunder Bird” (雷鳥= Raicho)! I miss the cartoon btw!
Here’s a view of Mt. Hotaka (the same mountain taken from the river at the very top) from Mt. Norikura at around 9000 feet in elevation…
Because of the high elevation, what really got me was the unique botanical nature of the mountain. It was filled with plants I have never seen before… For example…
Or this field of flowers I have no idea what you call them…
These flowers will be identified ASAP.
Bottom line… the Northern Alps was awesome but the guided tour sucked.
I will explain more to why the guided tour sucked soon! LOL.
However, next time, I’m definitely going to go all out with my mountain gear and climb and camp somewhere on the Alps. For shelter, instead of booking a lodge or a hotel, I’m thinking of using a 4-season Mountain 25 2 person tent to protect me from the elements. Although this tent was specifically made to withstand strong winds and extreme low temperatures, for the summer and any hot day, I really like how I can just use the fly and the footprint. I rather be outdoors than indoors.
If you’re interested, here’s a blog about the gear I bring for outdoor photographs!