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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?