Enjoy the beauty throughout the four seasons along one of Japan's best alpine sightseeing routes. The highlight of the route is the Kurobe Dam, the highest in Japan. Kurobe Valley, the deepest in the country, offers a breathtaking view. An exciting trolley ride through 41 tunnels and over 22 bridges.
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is an international mountain sightseeing route of some 90 kilometers long. The route goes across the 3,000-meter-high North Alpine mountains, the so-called "roof of Japan," and connects Toyama and Shinano Omachi. You can enjoy the panorama, from the fresh green of spring, to the red leaves of fall, to the new snow of winter, by taking a train, highland bus, trolley bus, cable car, and ropeway. Since the lines opened in June 1971, the Tateyama mountain area has been transformed from an isolated spot into one of the nation's best sightseeing areas, where a million guests visit every year.
Murodo-daira of Tateyama has one of the heaviest snows in the world, and the snow reaches about seven meters on average. In particular, the snow mantle at Otani, a five-minute walk from Murodo Station, sometimes gets more than 20 meters because of snowdrifts. The famous "Snow Walls" are formed by expelling this heavy snow, and the 500-meter-long area with such snow walls is open to sightseers from mid-April to late May.
The Kurobe Valley is located in the eastern part of Toyama and lies between the Tateyama Mountain Range and the Ushiro-Tateyama Mountain Range. The valley is the deepest V-shaped valley in the entire country. If you take a trolley ride (the Kurobe Kyokoku Line), you can view the beauty of the valley between Unazuki-onsen Station and Keyaki-daira Station. The trolley ride takes 1 hour and 20 minutes, a distance of 20.1 kilometers, and includes going through 41 tunnels and over 22 bridges. One of the bridges is called Atobiki-bashi, which lies over the deepest part of the valley, and is 64 meters long and 60 meters high. The view from this bridge is one of the best in this area.
There are many hot springs along the trolley route, such as the Kuronagi-onsen Hot Spring (the source of the Unazuki-onsen Hot Spring) as well as the Kanetsuri-onsen and Meiken-onsen hot springs. You may get off the trolley on the way to enjoy other secluded hot spring spots. The Kanetsuri-onsen Hot Spring is known for the distinctive characteristic that you can dig anywhere along the Kurobe-gawa River to create and enjoy your own private spa.
If you walk one kilometer from Keyaki-daira Station, the last stop of the trolley route, you will see the Kurobe-gawa River from the precipitous cliff called the Sarutobi Valley. The Babadani-onsen and the Meiken-onsen hot springs are nearby, and you can relax.
The Kurobe Dam, built at the upper stream of the Kurobe-gawa River, an arched concrete dam of 186 meters high, is the highest in Japan and is higher than a 50-floor skyscraper. From the dam's observatory, you see a panorama view of the Tateyama Mountain Range and the North Alpine. Visitors can see the dynamic water discharge at the dam from 26 June to 15 October.
From Tokyo :
[Rail] 3h 20 min via Echigo-Yuzawa Station (JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line) to Toyama Station. 1h from Dentetsu Toyama to Unazuki-onsen Station by Toyama Chitetsu Line (limited express). A 3-minute walk to Unazuki Station (Kurobe Kyokoku Line). The trolley is not in service during the winter.
From Osaka :
[Rail] 3h 20 min to Toyama Station by JR Hokuriku Line.