The mountainous valley of Kamikochi sits high in Japan's Nagano Prefecture in what some call the Japan Alps. Surrounded by mountain peaks, the highland area features beautiful ponds, a peaceful shrine, and leisurely hiking trails.  A number of dead trees protrude from Taishoike Pond, giving the water a pretty, though eerie feeling.

Nathalie, left, crosses a wooden portion of a hiking trail. Right, visitors to Hotaka Shrine examine boats and mountains near the shrine's pond.

 The Azusa River flows throughout the valley of Kamikochi.

The Myōjin Bridge crosses over the Azusa River near Hotaka Shrine.