Endless alpine adventure in and around the Northern Japan Alps
The peaks of the Tateyama Mountains dominate the Toyama horizon. Viewed from the flatlands along the coast, they tower imposingly at close to 3,000 meters.
If you want to experience the mountains in a more hands-on fashion, there are two popular ways to get to higher ground: the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and the Kurobe Gorge Railway.
- Spectacular stargazing and mountain views from Murodo, the highest point of the Kurobe Alpine Route
- Ride the trolley through the densely wooded mountain passes of the Kurobe Gorge
- Hot spring bathing, hiking courses, and observation points dotting the gorge
- The immense snow corridor in early spring with snow walls up to 20 meters high on the Kurobe Alpine Route
How to Get There
Note that the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and Kurobe Gorge are two entirely different locations accessed from different points. Both take time and effort to reach but are well worth the effort.
Access to Kurobe Gorge is via Unazuki Onsen Station, not to be confused with the similarly named Kurobe Unazuki Onsen Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line. If arriving from outside the prefecture via bullet train, take the Toyama Chiho Railway from the Shinkansen Station to Unazuki Onsen Station. The Kurobe Gorge Railway operates trolleys through the gorge from Unazuki to Keyakidaira, the terminus.
The starting point of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is Tateyama Station if approaching from Toyama and Ogizawa Station if beginning your journey in neighboring Nagano Prefecture. From Toyama take the Toyama Chiho Railway Line from Dentetsu Toyama Station. From Nagano prefecture, access Ogizawa Station by express bus from Nagano Station or local bus from Shinano Omachi Station on the JR Oito Line.
The many faces of Kurobe
Before you set out to explore either destination, you should understand the differences between the various locations bearing the name Kurobe or Tateyama.
The name Kurobe appears throughout Toyama Prefecture geography in the names of a major dam, a river, and numerous mountains. For simplicity's sake, we should distinguish between the following:
Kurobe City: a municipality in Toyama that includes Unazuki, the starting point of Kurobe Gorge
Kurobe Gorge: a scenic route stretching from Unazuki to Keyakidaira and traversed by the historic Kurobe Gorge Railway Line
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route: a different route beginning in Tateyama City, extending across the Northern Japan Alps and terminating in Omachi City, Nagano Prefecture
The many faces of Tateyama
The name Tateyama belongs to the following:
Tateyama Town: small town whose train station marks the start of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
The Tateyama: Kurobe Alpine Route—as described above
Mt. Tateyama: a 3,000-meter peak, home to a storied mountaintop shrine
The major attractions in the Tateyama Kurobe area are all closed for winter and each operates on a slightly different schedule. Be sure to check with a tourist information office when planning your trip.
The best time to go
Popular times to visit include October and November, when autumn foliage brightens Toyama's mountainsides.
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route's snow corridor opens in April when the snow walls are at their highest. If you can't make it in April, the snow usually remains until early June.