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The incomparably scenic route from Matsumoto to Takayama winds over the mountains and through Chubu-Sangaku National Park (Chubu-Sangaku Kokuritsu Koen) via Kamikochi. Travel is only possible after the last week of April or the first week of May, when plows have removed the almost 30 feet of winter snow. If you spend the night in Kamikochi, which is surrounded by virgin forests of birch,
larch, and hemlock, consider renting a rowboat at Taisho-ike (Taisho Pond) for the spectacular view of the snow-covered peaks.
Unless you plan to do some serious hiking, Kamikochi is best done as a day trip from Takayama or Matsumoto. Plan to arrive in the morning, though, as it is worth spending the entire day here.
Fukui, the capital city of the small eponymous prefecture on the Sea of Japan, doesn't have much to draw foreign visitors beyond amazing seafood...
In the northwestern part of Nagano Prefecture, Hakuba Village lies beneath the magnificent Hakuba Range, the best of the northern Japan Alps...