Born in Derbyshire, England, in 1861, the missionary Walter Weston was 29 years old when he first set foot in the mountains of Nagano-ken. The phrase “Japan Alps” was actually coined by another Englishman, William Gowland, whose Japan Guide was published in 1888, but it was Weston’s Climbing and Exploring in the Japan Alps, which appeared eight years later, that really put the peaks on the mountaineers’ maps. Previously, these mountains, considered sacred, were only climbed by Shinto and Buddhist priests, but in fast-modernizing Japan alpinism caught on as a sport and Weston became its acknowledged guru. Weston favoured Kamikōchi as a base from which to climb what he called “the grandest mountains in Japan”, and he frequently visited the tiny village from his home in Kōbe. Although he is honoured in Kamikōchi with a monument and a festival in his name on the first Sunday in June (the start of the climbing season), Weston is said to have wept at the prospect of mass tourism ruining his beloved mountains. His ghost can take comfort from the fact that the area’s beauty survives largely intact, despite Kamikōchi’s popularity.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Japan features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Discovering Kanazawa: the rise of Japan’s “Little Kyoto”

Discovering Kanazawa: the rise of Japan’s “Little Kyoto”

Japan Trip: Kanazawa – the rise of “Little Kyoto”. Once one of Japan’s largest cities, in recent decades Kanazawa has languished in the shadow of its…

09 Oct 2018 • Olivia Rawes insert_drive_file Article
Japan House: a new cultural crossroad between Britain and Japan

Japan House: a new cultural crossroad between Britain and Japan

Travel to Japan has boomed over the past year, with over 300,000 UK visitors rushing to the country in 2017. But if you want to experience the country's exquisi…

22 Jun 2018 • Eleanna Zanga insert_drive_file Article
In search of the secret to long life in Nagano

In search of the secret to long life in Nagano

People in Nagano, Japan, live longer than virtually anywhere else on earth. But what’s the secret of this success? Our writer Shafik Meghji travelled across…

16 May 2018 • Shafik Meghji local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs