One might not immediately think of alpine environments when considering what to do when in Japan, but Tateyama Kurobe’s Alpine Route is a must if you enjoy winter activities and scenery. While the route isn’t actually open in winter, you will want to see the beautiful, crisp white snow when trekking to this route in spring thru fall.
The Northern Japan Alps is quite a beautiful sight, and you can either hike or ride through the Alps to get some of the most spectacular winter wonderland views.
Known as “the roof of Japan,” the Northern Japan Alps and Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route make up a destination worth planning a few days of your trip around.
The History Of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
This route was not just constructed to allow for views of the Northern Japan Alps, but for a practical purpose as well.
Following this route will take you from Toyama City in Toyama Prefecture to Omachi Town in Nagano Prefecture. The route was completed in 1971.
Traversing The Route
The route is quite expansive, so there are several ways you can travel the route without planning to hike the entire way, which would take a very long time and can be quite difficult via hiking.
There is the Highland Bus, which takes you through a few points of the alpine route. The bus also makes a couple of stops along the way to see some of the natural attractions along the route.
The Toyama Chiho Railway will bring you to the Tateyama Station, which is along the beginning of the alpine route, from Toyama City.
The Tateyama Cablecar will travel to Murado, but those seats on the car need to be reserved in advance.
There are several more modes of transportation that run along the route to help you get from one end to the other safely.
The transportation methods that take visitors along the route have been set up in such a way that the environment can still be preserved and protected.
There are a lot of natural wonders that are situated along the route that are not meant to be damaged by massive amounts of tourists.
The Snow Corridor
The snow corridor helps to keep snow out of the route for ease of transport, but it also ends up creating a wall that can span as high as 65 feet high.
The corridors form around Midagahara and Murodo. If you want a good view of the snow corridor, you can visit a section near Murodo between April and June.
Murodo Hiking Trails
There are some hiking trails along Murodo, which is one of the points on the Alps that reaches a high elevation. Hikers of all skill levels can enjoy a hike along this route.
Keep in mind that there are times when the hiking trails have to be closed, given that it’s close to a volcano. It’s close to Jigokudani Hell Valley, so there are times when volcanic gas gets too close for safety.
The Murodo Plateau is a great place to stop when you’re looking to relax after your hike. You can stop in the famous onsen bath for some invigorating downtime.
The water within the onsen bath is sulfur spring water, which is not only relaxing but has an intoxicating scent.
If you’re hungry after your hike, the nearby Murado Station has some delicious food options to get your energy back. Murado also has a hotel on very high terrain for a unique stay.
Shomyo Falls is known as the tallest waterfall in Japan and can be found between the Murodo Plateau and Tateyama Station.
You can take a bus or hike to the area, and find a couple of viewing platforms to take in the waterfall.
Tateyama Mountain Range
The Tateyama Mountain Range consists of two large peaks; Tsurugi and Tateyama. If you are able to make your way to the top of the Tateyama mountain, you’ll arrive at the Oyama Shrine.
Given that Tateyama is considered one of the three Holy Mountains for Japan, it’s worth a stop to get a blessing for a good hike and a sip of warm sake.
If you’re adventurous and enjoy hiking, there is a week-long excursion you can take along the mountain range. The excursion has been planned out well and is a famous trek for avid hikers.
The Tateyama Ropeway is a good transportation method for anyone visiting the Alps for unique, breathtaking views. The ropeway offers one of the best vantage points to soak in the expansiveness of the mountains.
The ropeway can get pretty busy pretty fast, given that it’s one ropeway car that has a limited capacity. The trip takes about seven minutes and it’s worth it if you aren’t afraid of heights.
Chubu Sangaku National Park
The Chubu Sangaku National Park is made up of the Northern, Southern, and Central Japan Alps. The wide-ranging park spans through three Prefectures.
Not only does the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route make its way through the park, but there is also a ski resort and hot springs for visitors to enjoy.
The Kurobe Dam is quite tall, and you can watch the water flow through it when visiting the alpine route between June and October.
If you’re visiting the alpine route between June and the beginning of November, there are cruises that take you across the lake near the dam.
Not only is Kurobe Dam a visual wonder, but it’s a source of electricity to the Kansai region of Japan. It took an extended period of time to construct and has been in place since 1963.
The wetlands are just past the snow corridor and can be hiked through between the months of June and November. Nature lovers will enjoy this hike, as you can see some pleasing plant life and a spectacular view of the high peaks.
Hikers can enjoy a variety of routes that take you through the wetlands, marshes, and ponds in the area, depending on how much of a hike you are capable of.
There is also the Midagahara Hotel nearby if you’re looking to stay along the route for a couple of days.
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route In Spring
When the snow melts, the alpine route is still worth a visit. The alps are still a sight to witness, and they are scattered with flowers. In the fall, you’ll see the leaves change to brilliant colors as the trees prepare for the upcoming winter.
While hiking or riding a bus or train, you’ll see a sea of red and yellow foliage. The contrast of the leaves and plants against the pockets of frost that never quite fade is a view you’ll want to take a thousand photographs.
Tips For Visiting Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
The area doesn’t get too warm, even in the summer months, so you’ll want to dress appropriately in comfortable, breathable clothes and adequate walking shoes or hiking boots.
In the colder months, you might want to bring a jacket or extra sweater.
If you’re looking to be able to travel the entire route, there are various areas to stay for the night, such as the routes hotels, and campgrounds.
Many of the modes of transportation have fees to use, so keep that in mind as well. You can visit the route between April and November.