A depression carved during the Ice Age here?! Feel the alpine nature at the Senjojiki curl
Do you know what "curl" is? It is not sweets. It is a valley, where the slope just beneath the top of the mountain carved into a shape like scooped up by a spoon, due to erosion of the glacier. In Japanese it is also called Kenkoku. It is a rare terrain that we never have the opportunity to see in the places where we usually live.
On the east side of Mt. Hoken (altitude 2,931m) located in the Kiso Mountains in Nagano Prefecture, “Senjojiki curl” known as Japan's representative curl and an invaluable source of alpine plants, is spreading. This place has a charm that attracts tourists and mountain climbers, not only in summer when all the pretty flowers are blooming fully, but also all the other seasons. I will introduce the highlight of the four seasons of this curl, that landscape changes dynamically according to the season.
(Photo: Chuo Alps Kanko, the same below)
The colorful autumn The eyes dazzle in the gradation of autumn colored leaves painting the curl?!
When getting off at Senjojiki Station, the altitude is approximately 2,612m. A magnificent view of curl spreads in front of my eyes. The walking path of approximately 40 minutes is prepared in the curl so you can enjoy curl trekking while watching the spectacular view of the time.
Autumn colored leaves that beautifully color the curl starts from early September with Urashima Azaleas etc., due to the difference in altitude. The best time to see them is from late September to early October, but you can enjoy them for a long time, until early November.
People who have visited the curl in the evergreen period would be very surprised if they come back in autumn. Under the white rocks at the top, gold and the vivid red color decorating the surface of the mountains; it is amazing. You would inevitably feel wanting to upload the pictures on SNS.
Also from late October to early December, rime gets on the trees. If you are blessed with good weather, you can enjoy the contrast between the blue sky and the rime that shines like a crystal.
Enjoy the snowy mountains in winter and spring Let's play dynamically in the world of silvery white!
In the winter when snow covers all around, a view reminds of the Ice Age that carved this curl is spreading. Going to the alpine belt in winter could be dangerous, but thanks to the ropeway, it is nice that you can relatively go there easily. Let's enjoy the wonderful experience you can only have in winter, such as the skavla (wind and snow crest) that is the wavy pattern made by the wind power on the piled snow, and the clicking sound (Nakiyuki), that is the sound when you walk on the snow, etc.
Also from late April to late May, this place becomes spring ski area which is well-known but to the few. Approximately 18,000 square meters of curl becomes a ski slope and you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding etc. on the snowy valley.
From the Komagatake Ropeway connecting Shirabidaira Station and Senjojiki, you can see the Nakagosho Valley (Nakagoshokeikoku) waterfalls. Those who are visiting there during this season, do not miss the snow melting water falling down dynamically.
The other enjoyment in winter Watching the starry sky!
In winter, when there are relatively few travelers and mountain climbers, the Senjojiki curl is very good place to watch the starry sky. There are few artificial lights around, and there are less dust and water vapor in the air. Because the curl satisfies this condition, you can see the stars very clearly. If you have sharp eyes, Great Nebula of Orion and the Pleiades etc. can be seen with the naked eye.
The astronomical observations are depending on the weather. However, the probability to see a beautiful starry sky here is approximately 65%. It is up to you that whether to think this rate as high or low.
At the Hotel Senjojiki, which stands at altitudes of 2612m, there are overnight plans and events prepared to fully enjoy the starry sky. The star chart and headlights etc. can be rented. In a silence as snow absorbs the sound, you can enjoy full of stars that shine in the night sky. Of course, protect yourself against the cold weather!
The summer, alpine plants fully bloom in glory It is amazing to see the plans and the land carved by the glacier together!
The average temperature of the curl from July to August is approximately 15℃. In the morning and evening, the cold air covers the summit of the mountain, and the snowy valley remains on the surface of the mountains. It is filled with refreshing air and seem to be a completely different world from the humid place with the lower altitude.
There are alpine plants blooming all over. Besides the famous dark alpine lily (Miyamakuroyuri) in the summer Alps, avens (Chinguruma) that blooms the pretty white flowers, Trollius japonicus (Shinanokinbai) that blooms the yellow flower, koiwakagami that blooms the pink flower etc. are all swaying gently in the blowing wind. When tall veratrum viride (Kobaikeisou) blooms once in several years, the curl turns into a fantastic place. Also, you definitely need to see Prunus nipponica (Takanezakura) that is said to be the last blooming cherry trees in Japan.
Have a break at the cafe with the highest altitude in Japan
After enjoying the curl and feel like taking a break, "2612 Café" located inside the Hotel Senjojiki is recommended. This is the cafe with the highest altitude in Japan. Besides 2612 premium coffee brewed with meltwater of the Central Alps for 480 yen, you can enjoy tasting a hot dog with Shinshu smoked Vienna sausage for 650 yen and croissant with Shinshu salmon for 700 yen etc. Drinking a coffee while watching the Alps from the viewing space is exceptional.
Attention to regulation of the car! Access to the Senjojiki curl
To the Senjojiki curl, you take the ropeway from Shirabidaira Station. The entry of general vehicles is prohibited from Kurokawahira to Shirabidaira, a prefectural road of Komagatake Kouen line connecting from the Komagane IC, Chuo free way. You only can go up till Suganodai by car.
Then from there you change to the exclusive fixed‐routed bus and go to Shirabidaira Station (takes approximately 30 mins · 820 yen for one way). From Shirabidaira Station to Senjojiki Station, you take the ropeway (takes 7 minutes 30 seconds · 2,260 yen for round trip).