Hiking Distance: 35km
Time: 3-4 days
Elevation change: ➚2700m ➘2750m
The Panorama Ginza Trail
➚ 2700m ➘ 2750m
Huts & Campsites
The Panorama Ginza Trail is one of the most visually spectacular multi-day hikes in Japan. Starting in either Kamikochi or Nakabusa Onsen (Azumino), you will spend 3+ days hiking up and down ridgelines with beautiful panoramic views. There are numerous mountain huts and campsites to choose from, although they can be crowded on weekends and holidays. The recommendation here is to start from Kamikochi as the terrain in this direction is more enjoyable, plus Nakabusa tends to be a lot less crowded and includes a nice onsen, so it's the perfect way to end your hike. The itinerary I've described here is for 3 days, but you can change it to a more leisurely 4 or 5 days by spending an extra night at one of the other mountain huts along the way.
Car: If you're using a car then you'll need to catch a bus from the Sawando Parking Area (Closer to Matsumoto) or the Hirayu Parking Area, the bus will take about 30 minutes from the parking lot.
Direct Bus: There is a direct bus from Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo. You can view all the details and make reservations here. The price ranges from ¥10,000 to ¥13000.
Cheapest Option: For Kyoto and Osaka, there is a direct bus to the Shinhotaka ropeway which can also be used to access the mountains in Kamikochi. You can make reservations here, it's only ¥7500.
Train + Bus: You can also come from Matsumoto Station or from Gifu prefecture's Takayama Station. The official Kamikochi website provides a detailed overview of all the travel times and options.
Trail head: Google Maps
Note: Kamikochi is closed from 15th Nov to the end of April
Kamikochi to Chogatake Mountain Hut
Time: 6-8 hrs
Elevation change: ➚ 1200m gain ➘ 50m loss
Once you get off the bus at Kamikochi, you can pick up a map from the info centre and stock up on any supplies you may need, water is free here but you will have to pay for water at the mountain huts. From there walk toward the famous bridge and cross it to reach the mellow trail that takes you over the marsh ponds, eventually leading up the river toward Myojin Pond. You have to pay to enter Myojin Pond, which I don't recommend. From Myojin Pond you will cross another bridge and then head toward the Tokusawa camp ground, where the Mitsumata trailhead is located.
The time from the bus stop to the Mitsumata trailhead is about 1-2 hours and this is where the hike truly begins, it is a steep climb, but amazing views are waiting for you at the top. This section will take about 5-6 hours to reach the Mt. Chogatake mountain hut, set up camp here and enjoy some rest.
Chogatake to Daitenso Mountain Hut
Time: 8-9 hrs
Elevation change: ➚ 1100m gain ➘ 900m loss
Continue along the ridgeline towards Mt. Jonen while enjoying the incredible views of Mt. Yarigatake and Matsumoto, today is a big day as you'll be continuing all the way to Mt Daitenso, also known as Mt. Otensho. The climb up Mt Jonen is steep but fun, with big boulders and awesome views. Set up camp at Mt. Daitenso and get an early night for the next day, the sunrise from Daitenso is spectacular.
Daitenso to Tsubakuro & Nakabusa Onsen
Time: 6-8 hrs
Elevation change: ➚ 350m gain ➘ 1800m loss
The trail toward Mt. Tsubakuro begins from the Daitenso Mountain Hut, not from the Daitenso peak. You will head down into the mountains and eventually end up back on the ridgeline. Once you reach The Enzansou mountain hut you can either continue the short distance up to Mt. Tsubakuro or just head down to Nakabusa onsen, depending on the time. The bus from Nakabusa doesn't run late, 4:15pm is the last bus, so keep that in mind, it's also a great onsen if you want to have a bath before getting on the bus. The Enzansou mountain hut is one of the largest in the Northern Alps and a nice place to stay if you want to rest before the final descent.
The view of Yarigatake on the 3rd day
Day 1: Kamikochi to Chogatake mountain hut
Day 2: Chogatake to Daitenso Mountain Hut
Day 3: Daitenso to Tsubakuro and Nakabusa Onsen
Weather and Seasons
Summer and autumn are the best times for this hike. There is likely to be snow hanging around until May/June. The autumn leaves will be colourful from mid-September to mid-October. Kamikochi is closed during winter.