Imperial Hotel (1923-1968)
“[In 1953] For the first three days, we stayed at Matsumoto in the famous Kamikochi Hotel. Built in the early 1930s in the style of a Swiss mountain hotel, it sat in the shadow of Japan’s highest peak, Yaregatake. The food was excellent French cuisine served in a formal Continental style, the menus in French and Japanese – no English. At first, the array of spoons, forks, and knives set at each placed baffled Aoki, but when we told him that he was unlikely to face so formidable an arrangement in the U.S., much less often in the States than in Europe, he seemed relieved … That evening after dinner, we sat on the veranda outside our rooms and watched the sun drop behind the snow-covered peaks.”
– A Teacher’s Tale: A Memoir, by Joe Gilliland, 2015
“Japan awoke to the concepts of mountaineering and trekking when Englishman Walter Weston began exploring the Japan Alps in 1891 and published a popular book on the glories he discovered during his lengthy hikes. Influenced by Weston’s affection for the magnificent allure of these untouched mountains, Japanese mountaineers increased dramatically thereafter.
“In 1933, Imperial Hotel, Ltd. opened a small hotel there with a luxurious assortment of resort facilities which immediately attracted affluent international and local city dwellers and members of the imperial family hoping to get out of the oppressive summer heat and bask in the beauty of the fresh mountain scenery.
“Kamikochi is home to a number of places worth seeing on walks to enjoy its natural beauty. These include the famous Kappa Bridge located in the central part of Kamikochi and a symbol of the area, Taisho Pond, with its impressive decayed trees still standing in the pond, and the mystical Myojin Pond, which has Hotaka Shrine Inner Alter on the side.
“On your way, you can also catch a glimpse of the area’s history as you pass by the relief portrait of Walter Weston, the English missionary who spread the beauty of the Japan Alps to the world.
“Here, you may immerse yourself in nature, enjoying the views of the Hotaka Mountain Range, Mt. Yakedake, and other famous peaks from Kappa Bridge, at an elevation of 1,500 m, the pure waters of the Azusa River, and the verdure and flowers of the different seasons.”
– Kamikochi Imperial Hotel web site, 2014