Home  >  Magazine  >  Issue 36 : Sep/Oct 2010  > Features >  Where Gods Descend


Where Gods Descend
By Lee Dobson

Kamikochi, Nagano

Golden silence reigns with the dawn. There’s little but the sound of the Azusa River as it passes under the bridge like a cerulean serpent.

Clouds clutch at the throat of Mt. Hotaka, not quite managing to grasp its snow-covered peaks. Stepping onto the bridge quietly; hoping to catch a glimpse of novelist Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s Kappa before it shies away. 

Autumn now and lush green gave way to monochrome with hints of red and gold. The full moon illuminates dreams. The din and chaos of the city forgotten as I relish the utopia of Kamikochi, the place where the gods descend.


Formerly pastureland, Kamikochi became part of the Chubu-Sangaku National Park in 1934. Access is by bus, taxi, or bicycle, since roads are closed to private vehicles. Buses run regularly from Takayama and Matsumoto.




(1) Clouds hang low over the Azusa River with Mt. Hotaka in the background.
Autumn colored slopes reflected in Myojin Pond.


Standing on Kappabashi (Kappa Bridge): the setting for Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s “Kappa.


Japanese macaque preparing to jump for his supper.


Myojin Pond and ceremonial boats.