Emerald ponds and Crow Castle

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Unsurprisingly, day two of our trip to the Japanese Alps wasn’t blessed by tremendous weather conditions either. However, the surrounding scenery in Kamikochi did not fail to make up for the cloudy sky.

On arrival at the main tourist hub, one can choose from several different routes that all evolve along the valley of the Azusa River. Knowing it was gonna rain eventually, we only went for the short two-hours trek. But there is definitely more to explore than just that. I imagine it would be lovely to come back here with more time on our hands and explore parts of the area off the beaten path.

After unwinding within a mix of overgrown forest and marshes for a couple of hours, we headed back to Matsumoto in the afternoon, the next major town in that region.

Left with a couple of hours to spend in the city before our bus to Tokyo was scheduled, we went to see Matsumoto Castle – also referred to as “Crow Castle” for its distinct black wooden exterior. One of only 12 original Japanese castles still standing, it’s definitely worthwhile. I’m actually not sure if one can also enter the castle a little bit earlier in the day. When we got there by 5pm, the only facility still open was the craft beer festival in the castle’s garden.

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