Kurobe Dam 黒部ダム
Walk across Japan's tallest dam
Seven years in the making, the Kurobe Dam ranks among Japan's greatest feats of engineering. Traversing this section of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route on foot is a definite highlight because of its scale and elevation.
- Taking a scenic stroll along the dam
- Photographing the structure from different vantage points
- Seeing water discharged from the floodgates, a mighty spectacle
Kurobe Dam is Japan's largest arch dam, completed in 1963
At 186 meters, Kurobe Dam is Japan's tallest dam
How to Get There
You can get to the dam via the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, from either the Toyama or Nagano side.
From Toyama, start at Dentetsu Toyama Station and travel all the way to Kurobe Dam via train, buses, cable car, ropeway and other means of transportation. The journey takes about four hours and costs around 9,000 yen (one way).
From the Nagano side, start at Ogizawa Station in Omachi and travel along a 6.1km section of the route by buses. This takes about an hour and a half and costs around 3,000 yen.
Note that anyone covering the entire Alpine Route will automatically end up crossing the dam as it is one of the sections of the route.
A monument to sacrifice and endeavor
The tale of how Kurobe Dam came to be built is complex and marked by tragedy, as 171 workers perished in accidents during construction. The incident exerted a strong enough hold on the popular imagination to be made into a feature film starring Mifune Toshiro in 1968. Don't miss the memorials commemorating the workers' sacrifices.
From June to mid-October, the dam discharges torrents of water from its floodgates in a stirring display of nature interacting with technology. If you're feeling sprightly, you can take the long, steep staircase to an observation deck affording panoramic views of the dam and lake below.
When to go
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route operates from mid-April to the end of November every year. Visitors in search of a real spectacle may wish to visit in the summer or early autumn to see the floodgates open.