Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (Nagano)立山黒部アルペンルート
One of Japan's top mountain crossings, featuring scenery that is stunning in every season.
The Northern Alps crossing is just 25 km long, as the crow flies. However, the height difference is 1,975 m. It uses a variety of modes of transport, including cable car, highland bus, trolley bus, and ropeway. The highest station is Murodo, at an altitude of 2,450 m. This world-class mountain crossing allows visitors to enjoy the full magnificence and power of Mother Nature, who displays a different countenance in each season. The starting points are located at Tateyama on the Toyama Prefecture side, and at Shinano Omachi on the Nagano Prefecture side.
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route opens in April each year. As the highland bus gradually climbs to higher altitudes on its route from Bijodaira to Murodo on the Toyama Prefecture side, the walls of snow grow progressively higher. These walls, which can reach up to 20 m high (as tall as a six-story building), form one of the attractions of this crossing and are known as Yuki no Otani (the Great Snow Canyon). In summer, visitors enjoy watching the discharge of water from the Kurobe Dam, the tallest dam in Japan. The stunning sight of the mist amid the verdant surroundings is truly eye-catching. The area's short summer ends in September, when the mountains become clad in their autumn hues. The ropeway passes over this carpet of scarlet and gold, like a moving observation platform. Once November is over, winter begins in earnest and the mountain crossing is closed until the following spring.
It is possible to make a round-trip without crossing all the way over; for example, it takes around 2-3 hours if one goes from Ogizawa to Kurobe Dam. The whole crossing can be done in 6-7 hours, but there are hotels at Midagahara and Murododaira, allowing you to make the most of your visit to the mountains.
Train: 40 minutes from Shinano-Omachi Station on the JR Oito Line (4 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo Station) by a Kanden-Trolley Bus to Ogizawa Station / 1 hour from Dentetsu-Toyama Station (1 hour and 30 minutes from Tokyo (Haneda Airport) via Toyama Airport; 3 hours from Nagoya Station) to Tateyama Station on the Toyama Chiho Tetsudo Line