By Rey Waters
The Northern Alps of Japan consists of several mountains in the 3,000 meter class such as Mt. Yari and Mt. Hodaka. The gateway to them is Kamikochi. On a crisp, clear morning in early October, we walked along the Azusa River up to Myojin. The view from the forest trail was fascinating; Mt. Yake-dake was covered with a mystical morning mist and thick forests reflected on the shimmering river. Under the sunlight filtering in through the trees, we listened to the birds singing and enjoyed the colorful autumn leaves. We made our way at a leisurely pace and took about 2 hours from Kappa-bashi Bridge to Hodaka Shrine. After stopping by the shrine and its inner pond, we crossed the river on a rope bridge. When we turned around to look, Mt. Myojin was magnificent against the blue sky. Hiking trails flank both sides of the Azusa River, but “Ugan” (go up to the left from Kappa-bashi Bridge) has more viewpoints along the way.