Known as the “Roof of Japan”, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route takes you from Nagano prefecture all the way to Toyama prefecture. This route passes through the dynamic scenery of Mt. Tateyama in the Japanese Alps and offers many stunning views and a great experience!
If you are worried about walking and hiking the entire route, you can relax! The Alpine route offers many methods of travel for you to experience as you travel along the mountain. Some of these vehicles include an electrical green trolley bus, a 360° panorama ropeway, and cable cars!
These vehicles and the seasonal changes in scenery are the main attraction of the route and offer beautiful views all throughout the year. But there is more to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route than just the vehicles! Let’s go over them!
Kurobe Dam at 1,500 meters above sea level
Built to be one with nature, this huge dam was completed in 1963. It overcame many obstacles during its construction and it is now the highest arch dam in all of Japan at 186 meters tall. The lake behind the dam holds 200 million cubic meters of water and 10 cubic meters of water pass through the dam every second, generating one billion kWh per year!
Daikanbo at 2,300 meters above sea levelArguably one of the best viewing spots on the Alpine Route is Daikanbo at 2,300 meters above sea level on a cliff top. Daikanbo is located between the Kurobe-daira station and Murodo, where visitors can transfer from the Tatetyama Trolley Bus to the Tateyama Ropeway. Here you can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the valley below and the surrounding mountains.
Mikurigaike – a beautiful clear lake at 2,405 meters above sea levelThis beautiful landscape that includes a volcanic lake is the symbol of Murodo. It is covered in snow until June as its beautiful deep blow water reflects Mount Tateyama between July and October. It covers 30,000 square meters and has a circumference of 631 meters. This is the largest lake in the Murodo area. The area around the lake offers a perfect relaxing place to take a walk and enjoy the plant life. It is said that the surrounding pine trees are home to ancient thunderbirds, and if you manage to see one, you will be blessed with luck!
Midagahara Wetlands at 1,900 meters above sea levelThe expansive wetlands of Midagahara and the Dainichi Plain are home to many abundant ecosystems. Overlooking the Dainichi Ranges, the wetlands were recognized with a designation as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in July 2012. Here you can walk along the boardwalk that allowed you to walk safely across the many ponds and check out some of the many highlights in the area. One of them is the Tateyama Caldera Viewpoint which was formed by an eruption of Mt. Tateyama. Other highlights include the Ichinotanido-Shishigabana Climbing Route, the marshy ponds called “Gakita”, and more! The best time to visit is in the summer, when you can walk alongside colorful butterflies and enjoy the beautiful green landscape.
The Great Snow Walls of Tateyama – “Yuki-no Otani” at 2,450 meters above sea levelThe Tateyama Murodo Plain receives some of the heaviest snowfall in the world. So much that a 500-meter-long snow wall is formed each spring on either side of the highway after snow is cleared for the opening of the Alpine Route. This awe-inspiring snow wall can reach height of up to 20 meters, which is about the height of a seven-story building! Though it may seem dangerous, the road is divided, so that pedestrians can walk on one side of the road, while traffic passes by on the other. This allows many visitors to get really up-close with the wall that can remain at 10 meters tall, even in late June!
Stay at Toyama and Enjoy an open-air Hot Spring Rock Bath!After a long journey through the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route, the best way to relax is to soak in a nice bath! At the Etchu Tonamino Hot Spring, you can find two water sources for baths. The Yao Formation and the Iozen Formation. Both offer unique properties to their own respective baths and are not too hot, allowing you to relax and take it easy in a nice, long bath.