Traversing the “Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route”, Japan

So here’s the plan:
1. Board the overnight Willer Bus bound for Toyama with departure time of 10pm at Shinagawa, Tokyo and with expected arrival time of 6am at Toyama City, Toyama Prefecture.
2. Find the Denetsu Toyama station at Toyama City, board the 1 hour local railway that will bring me to Tateyama Station.
3. From Tateyama station, purchase the rest of the ticket for the required 7 public transportation namely- cable car, highland bus, tunnel trolley bus, ropeway, another cable car, another trolley bus and finally another local bus. In total, this will take me from Toyama City to Shinano-Omachi, thus completing the alpine route journey.

All these I needed to do in order to traverse two prefectures (Toyama Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture), cross two mountains, be amused with some of Japan’s advance and best 60’s mega infrastructure and ultimately, enjoy the one of a kind panorama view of the magnificent Tateyama Mountain Range of Chubu-Sangaku National Park or let’s just simply say, to see the top picture.

Not convince with my grand-weekend plan? Here is the map to explain more. Take note of the prices too, crossing the alpine route is not that cheap.
tateyama kurobe alpine route

Experiencing the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route occupied the top spot on the places I’ve been meaning to visit in Japan for more than a year now, but only made it at one of a weekends last September.

Though often recommended as a winter activity due to the famous Snow corridor, I diverted off-season and went during the Summer/Autumn transition period were only few people visits, thus shorter or none at all waiting time on boarding every mode of transportation.
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

There are two key areas along the Alpine route that makes the entire journey worth every penny and the sacrifices of the uncomfortable sleeping at overnight bus – the amazing view of Mt. Tateyama Mountain range at Murodo and seeing the discharge of tons of water at Kurobe Dam.

Located at an elevation of 2,450m, the Murododaira area not only includes the country’s highest located, expensive hotel (Hotel Tateyama) but offers one of the most unbelievable, amazing nature views I’ve seen in Japan.
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

Though popular starting point for hikers planning to climb the 3,015m high Mt. Tateyama, for those intending just to admire the mountain from afar, a short, easy walking trails is strategically laid out for visitors to explore every inch and turn of the area.
Here are some of what you should expect.
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

Flowers, grass fields and alpine plant transitioning from green colors to autumn foliage.
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

The mountain range that I keep on mentioning, against the background of a clear blue sky and a small pond below creating one perfect frame.
tateyama kurobe alpine route

Walking trail with a small hotels, restaurants and inns at the end of the route, for day visitors and hikers to rest.
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

Mikurigaike pond with waters so blue, possibly you will not believe me if I tell you that the photo is not a product of photo shop editing .
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

Finally, a view of sulfuric steam emitting from Jigokudani (Hell’s Valley). Nope, this is not the same as the Snow Monkey’s Onsen location (Jigokudani Park at Yamanouchi, Nagano).
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

What else should I do? But absorb the fresh air, took as many photos as I could (though I feel like I fail to capture just how perfect the place is) and enjoy a hot coffee at the mountain served on a porcelain cup.
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

Even if I wanted to spend the entire day at Murodaira, I needed to keep moving and continue my journey to the rest of the Alpine route. So, I boarded another set of trolley bus, a rope way, cable car and made my way to Kurobe Dam.

Considered as Japan’s tallest dam, with a total height of 186 meters and currently owned by Kansai Electric Power Company , the discharge of the water could only be viewed between the months of late June to mid October.
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

There are several elevated viewing spots to admire the hydropower facility, but regardless which elevation you choose, the rainbow created by the strong water current is such a happy view.
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

The arch-dam wall against the fresh water of Kurobe river can also be enjoyed by takinga short boat ride across the area.
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

Like many mega infrastructure in the world, created back in the 60’s where technology was not well-advance, the construction of the Kurobe dam claims the lives of 171 people. A statues tribute to remember the lives lost can be found at one side of the dam walking area.
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

Like the Kurobe dam itself, the 7 transportation along the Alpine Route showcase the advancement of Japan’s infrastructure back in the late 50’s-early 60’s period, but still operating with no glitch up to these days. Riding these transportation become one of the many reasons why visitors are drawn to crossing the alpine route.
Just looking at the map, it’s hard to imagine how they possibly drill the mountain in the middle to place a tunnel trolley bus and yet preserve the natural surroundings?
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route
tateyama kurobe alpine route

Traversing the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route might be an expensive or a tiring travel for a weekend or even a day trip but may this spectacular view reminds you that it is a journey worth taking.
tateyama kurobe alpine route

79 thoughts on “Traversing the “Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route”, Japan

  1. Amazing pictures!! The Japanese dams especially always intrigue me. Somehow, they seem to blend in and makes the natures impression of greatness even bigger!

    1. totally agree with you!
      don’t know how the Japanese manage to build a dam that fits perfectly with the natural surrounding..

  2. It’s my humble opinion that this is your most awesome post yet. The mountains, the dam, the colours, the view … not to mention Organizing Everything! Hats off to you, and thanks for allowing Tokyo-bound residents to experience the glory with you!

    1. thank you very much Ru!
      i was half asleep most of the time. up to now i smiled when i remember how sleepy i was on the whole journey. i guess night bus is not for me🙂

  3. would the hike be treacherous? the route map shows quite a steep hike! anyways some brilliant pictures there! keep them coming!

    1. i’m not quite sure but this one seems to be a hard one even if the starts of the trail is Murodaira.
      thanks !🙂

    1. hi Vipin, you should make it happen! winter is the most recommended if you like to walk along the Snow Corridor and obviously it will be the most crowded time too. not much walking needed, just purchase the 7 types pf transportation to traverse the whole area..

    1. amazing right?🙂
      unfortunately, i was to sleepy to climb the highest observation point, did you try to view it from there?

  4. I have to admit, I’m a wee bit jealous of your travels. You visit the most beautiful locations, and your photography is outstanding! Thank you for sharing🙂

    1. thank you so much, i appreciate your words!🙂
      i agree with you, i am quite fortunate to have a job where allows me to spend weekends visiting amazing places in Japan..

    1. hi, thank you for your comments, really appreciate it!
      i might be the wrong person to learn photography from, particularly the technical aspects🙂

      i believe i’m just lucky that the places i visited are naturally beautiful, no need to do anything else but to photograph..
      but if there is one technique (if it’s consider as) that i can share is to keep on walking and walking around the area, never be satisfied taking photo in one angle only..
      have a great day🙂

  5. i went over this again and let me say once more, Wow! the scenery is breathtaking. you toured the alpine, you are lucky and rich, hahaha. i love how you showed both the panoramic views and the gigantic infrastructures. they’re admirable… you take us places, thanks… cheers!🙂

    1. thanks Leanne!
      enjoy your time in japan, let me know if you need further help, i’ll try my best to answer it..

  6. Chance upon this post as I was looking for information on Alpine Route (planning to go in Oct-Nov). Love your photos of the scenery, and the description of the places! Can’t wait to go there now😛

    May I know how much you spent travelling from Tokyo, and the total duration on the roads? It’s really far away from the capital so I’m wondering if I should stay there for a night before heading Nagoya (but of course, cost is in consideration too)


    1. hi yuuka,

      i agree with your plan to combine visiting kurobe-alpine route with a sightseeing of either nagoya or matsumoto particularly if you like castle towns.
      i been to nagoya prior going to the alpine route so i opted to stay at matsumoto instead and took the bus to shinjuku going home. i find this as much better and cheaper option.

      in terms of cost, if you are coming from Tokyo, consider first the expense of either bullet train (shinkansen) to nagoya (around 11,000 Yen, takes 2 hours) or if you want to save money an overnight sleeper bus directly to Toyama (around 5,000Yen, approx. 6 hours).

      for more information regarding alpine route, you can visit this link:


      1. I’m planning to travel from Tokyo, towards Kansai while stopping by Matsumoto, the Alpine Route and Shirakawa-go. I’ll probably be departing via Kansai International Airport (haven’t book my air tickets yet), so I’m hoping to find a way of not making loops in travelling around the Alpine Route, just 2 days 1 night in that area. Would you mind advising on the following draft plan? However, this is made on the assumption that I have a rail pass. I have yet to plan out everything to see if it’s worth the money (^^;;)

        1) Leave Tokyo/Shinjuku 7-8AM >> reach Matsumoto around 10+AM >> leave Matsumoto for Shinano-Omachi, reach Shinano-Omachi around 2PM >> “finish” the Alpine Route up to Murodo, stay a night
        * I’m only interested in Matsumoto Castle because I’ll get to see old towns in Kyoto and Nara (hope I’m not missing too much on this)

        2) “Finish” the remaining Alpine Route, leave Tateyama Station at around 10+AM >> ___??____ >> Reach Takayama Station at around 12.30-12.45PM in time for a half-day tour to Shirakawa-go >> Return to Takayama Station at around 5pm, leave for Kyoto by trains to stay a night

        Question: Is there any transportation mean between Tateyama Station and Takayama Station? So far I’ve only been able to find the route whereby I make a train transit at Toyama, but that’s quite a some travelling time for a supposed short distance! D:

        If I opt for the overnight bus directly to Toyama, how should I plan my itinerary so that I still get to cover Matsumoto, Shirakawa-go and of course, the Alpine Route?

        Sorry that I’m asking quite a lot of questions here; this is the first time I’m getting so confused with Japan’s transportation and I really wish to minimise the amount of time spent making looping travels, if possible.

        Thank you very much!

        1. hi yuuka,

          matsumoto is a small town, the castle is worth visiting and everything you need to see is just walking distance from there. so you’re plan to spend few hours should be fine.

          you’re over-all plan should work, usually buses and trains in japan departs and arrives on time.just make sure that you do book the hotel at murodo in advance.
          you should also bear in mind that the whole transportation across the alpine route has waiting time particularly on crowded days but october should be fine. i remember waiting only few minutes in between though i would suggest that you be conscious on the over-all transportation time table (you can get one at the station).

          you can use the train between Tateyama(Toyama) and Takeyama station. it takes 221 minutes according to Hyperdia..
          i would recommend both of this website for more information and for you to be able to plan your trip better.

          good luck !

      2. Thank you for your advice! I’ll work around this for my trip in the Chubu region. Can’t wait to go there right now… Your blog posts really make me want to visit everywhere in Japan! (not very sure how to post a comment specifically to your reply, hope this gets through)

        1. hi yuuka, thanks as well for visiting my blog.
          i hope i was able to help🙂 Enjoy your trip!

  7. Very beautiful indeed. We are planning to go in mid Oct but I need your advice. Is it possible to use luggage with wheels instead of haversack for this trip? I saw the stone slabs and the steps (I think that must be boarding the cable car) in some of the pictures. Thank you for so much information.

    1. hi Shirley,

      i remember seeing several families and tourists with wheeled luggages, those who are planning to do some hiking are the one with backpacks.
      should be no issue on your case but please be advice that sometimes cable cars and other transportation along the route can be crowded so it might be a little inconvenience but over-all should be fine.

      you are right, the steps are for the cable cars. also there is a baggage service in case you want other option. for more information, kindly check this link:

      enjoy your trip🙂

  8. Hi, photos are beautiful, thank you for sharing! Could you please help me…I’m trying to find out if it’s possible to hike the entire 90km Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route? Have you met other people on your route who’ve done it? Thank you! -Iva

    1. hi Iva, sorry for the late response.
      i am not sure if there is a hiking route that traverse the whole 90km of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route, but judging from the numerous hikers I saw during my trip, they are only climbing a certain portion of it, possibly because of permit restrictions.

  9. Hi! Just wanted to say I love your blog, it is very 懐かしい for me because I used to live in Japan! I went hiking to many of the places that you have been to…Mt Shosa, Mt Fuji, The Alps… So thank you for bringing back some wonderful memories!
    Please keep up your posts!

  10. I am filled with awe with these photos of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Soon if I’ll travel in Japan, I will definitely visit that place. With my travel app (, I will make that place as one of my favorite travel spots=)

  11. Hello, thanks a lot for your post. I intend to go to visit Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in the mid of July this year. If we go on that time, will the scenery be as astounding as yours? Thanks a lot.

    1. Hi Natalia, sorry for late reply. July is summer in Japan and I think the view will be more greenery, flora and fauna. I suggest you checked the official website they have pics available for every season.

  12. Hi, I happened to come across your blog as I am planning a solo trip to Toyama end of May. Could you advise if the walking trails around the Alpine route (such as the stunning Mikurigaike area) are within walking distance from the bus terminals? And would a 2 day 1 night stay around Tateyama area be a good idea in order to cover the Alpine route?

    1. Hi Eunice, I did the whole route in one day. I think 2d/1n should be the way to go if you are planning to do more hiking.
      Walking trails are available and quite near from all the transpo stop along the route.


  13. WOW!!! I am filled with awe with these photos of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. hava a plan to go there this August. Can’t hardly wait😀

    1. Hi Dicky sorry for this late reply. I dont think there is snow in October. I would suggest visit the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route for more and better info. Enjoy!

  14. Hi, Amazing post!!! I am planning 2/3 days trip. Would like to know if you did stop over along the alpine route? Hotels seem to either fully booked or extremely expensive. Can the alpine route be done in a day without rushing through the places?

    1. hi, sorry late reply. i did the whole alpine route in a day and never felt that i was rushing. hotels are indeed expensive and maybe they are reserved for those who are doing hiking. if you just want to see the alpine route, a day trip should be enough. enjoy!

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