As summer gets closer, many people start to search for somewhere to visit during summer holiday season in order to get away from the hot and humid weather. Tateyama Alpine Route is a mountain sightseeing route passing through the northern part of the Japanese Alps stretching from Toyama to Nagano prefecture. The 37.2-kilometer mountain route opened in 1971, and has been visited by a great number of tourists every year as one of the best mountain routes in the world. From Tokyo, it is accessible by Shinkansen, which makes it an ideal day trip destination to relax in scenic nature spots. In this article, we will introduce the overview of Tateyama Alpine Route and must-visit spots around!
How to get to Tateyama
From Tokyo, you can take JR Hokuriku Shinkansen to Toyama or Nagano station. You can start your trip from either of the stations depending on your itinerary and interests. If you want to visit Kurobe Dam first, an iconic tourist spot in Tateyama Alpine Route, we highly recommend taking Shinkansen to Nagano station and then take an express bus to reach Ogizawa station.
How to get around Tateyama
As it is not accessible by private cars, there are several transportation services that take tourists around the area. It includes cable cars and trolley buses which help tourists get around the sightseeing spots easily and conveniently. Make sure to choose carefully the date you visit there, because it gets packed with tourists in specific seasons such as Obon week in August and a long holiday called Golden Week in May. Sometimes you need to wait in a long queue at the station until you finally get on the transportation. Several online tickets are available which can be purchased in advance with a special discount for the Shinkansen. Visit their official website to find out more!
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Official Website
Once you arrive at Ogizawa station, take the electric bus running between Ogizawa and Kurobe Dam area. Kurobe Dam is an arc dam situated in the mountainous area along the Alpine route. It is the tallest dam in Japan, and loved by many people as a symbolic structure and one of the most famous tourist spots. The 186-meter-tall dam can store enormous amount of water, and fascinates tourists with a regular discharge of water carried out from June to October. It enables you to experience the powerful performance with refreshing water splashes! It also has a function as a hydropower plant to generate electricity with water. Exploring the nature spots around gives you a relaxing time while enjoying the stunning view of the huge dam!
Take a cable car running between Kurobe Dam and Kurobe Daira, and change to another one to reach Daikanbo station. There is an observation deck which offers a panoramic view of giant mountains and the dam. It is a perfect spot to take impressive pictures while overlooking the breathtaking nature.
There is a restaurant called Kurobe Dam Rest House near Kurobe Dam station. Try their special curry called “Dam Curry”, which consists of spicy curry and white rice with a shape of the arc dam! Get outside seats at the terrace to enjoy the amazing view of Kurobe dam on a sunny day! They also serve light meals such as refreshing soft serve ice cream which is perfect to get your body cool down in summer!
Tateyama Snow Corridor in Murodo
Murodo is a scenic area that can be reached by Tateyama trolly bus from Kurobe Dam. It is widely known for its heavy snowfall in winter and other exciting spots on any season. In spring, it welcomes tourists with a huge snow corridor called Yuki-no-Otani. It is an artificial snow wall created in the process of cleaning the snow on the road to prepare for the opening of the Alpine Route in spring. Sightseeing buses run through the 20-meter-tall white walls which offers a stunning view from the windows! Special walking event is held from the middle of April to the end of June, which allows participants to walk along the pathway along the snow corridor.
Summer is a perfect season to enjoy Mikurigaike Pond, an iconic pond in the Murodo area. It is a volcanic pond which is completely covered with snow during winter season. In July, as snow starts to melt, it suddenly appears with a beautiful reflection of the surrounding mountains on the water. There are pathways which enables tourists to take a refreshing stroll around while enjoying the fresh air. It is also a home to a number of Alpine plants and Raicho (Rock ptarmigan in English), a special bird that can be found only in mountainous areas!
From Murodo, Tateyama Highland bus takes you to another scenic spot, Midagahara. Midagahara refers to wetlands with a number of trekking routes around. Located about the altitude 1,600 to 2,100 meters, it is officially designated as a Ramsar Site. It is good for a hike for children and beginners as the routes are completely paved with wooden boardwalks. In summer and fall, the area is filled with lush alpine plants and colorful autumn leaves! Children observe the plans closely, and learn about nature with a memorable experience. Walking around untouched nature will help you unwind and have a peaceful time.
Enjoy local delicacies
Before you get on the Shinkansen heading back to Tokyo, don’t forget to try some local delicacies around Toyama station! As it faces the Sea of Japan, there are a number of restaurants offering fresh seafood for an affordable price. Sushi is a perfect way to enjoy the freshness and taste of fish with simple ingredients and seasonings. In addition, with a large produce of rice, Toyama boasts a large collection of local sake brands as well. You can easily find souvenir shops selling local famous sake at Toyama station!
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