The Azusa Valley runs the length of Kamikochi. Despite the 1,500m/5,000ft elevation of the valley floor, mild summer temperatures and abundant rain create a rich ecosystem. The Japanese Cardiocrinum lily, Cardiocrinum cordatum var.glehnii, is an impressive sight. Click on the image for a larger view.
In the early twentieth century, the valley was under threat from cattle pasturing in the summer. With the release of the highly successful novel Kappa by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, wherein the eponymous creatures where said to dwell in Kamikochi, and a visit by an imperial prince in 1927, the influx of tourists exploded. Ten years later, area was was given permanent protection in the formation of the Chubusangaku National Park.