This blog post captures our wonderful experience of traversing the Japanese Alps, a.k.a the ROOF of Japan, through the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.
Japan Alps: an intro
The Japan Alps: 中部山岳国立公園, or the “Chuubu Sangaku National Park”, is a series of mountain ranges in Japan which bisect the main island of Honshu, encompassing four prefectures of Niigata, Toyama, Nagano, and Gifu. Nestled at the bases of the majestic peaks of the Japan Alps are seven fascinating cities, such as Nagano (which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1998) and Toyama. Each city is blessed with its own top-class sightseeing spots, making for a truly memorable vacation in the magnificent natural surroundings of Central Japan. It surely is a hiker’s delight!
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (立山黒部アルペンルート) is a unique and spectacular route through the Northern Japan Alps which is traversed by various means of transportation including cable-cars, trolley buses and a ropeway. Completed in 1971, the route connects Toyama City in Toyama Prefecture with Omachi Town in Nagano Prefecture. It is completely inaccessible from December to mid-April. (In 2015 (that’s the year in which we went), the entire route was open from April 15 to November 30.) The main attractions of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is (1) the scenically spectacular Kurobe dam and (2) the majestic snow corridor whose snow walls reach up to 20m high. A section of the snow corridor around Murodo is open to pedestrians usually from mid-April to mid-June.
How to reach there:
There are two ways of traversing the route: (1) Tateyama to Ogisawa; and (2) Ogisawa to Tateyama. We took the latter, majorly due to the following reasons:
1. There are more “attractions” in this direction (from Ogisawa to Mt. Tateyama) and hence we wanted to do them while we are fresh and energetic,
2. We had to stay that night, and Toyama city has more hotel options.
Here is the route-map. As mentioned above, we took the Ogisawa to Tateyama route (in the map below, its right to left)
Tip: for live status of the route, please check the official website (don't worry, its in English ;-) ).