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The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Take advantage of a great value travel ticket to explore the 19 metre tall Snow Walls of the stunning Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in the Japan Alps.

Ice and snow might be the furthest things from your mind now that spring and its glimmers of sunshine and blue sky are approaching, but the stunning Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in the Japanese Alps is so breathtaking that it might just be worth getting your winter clothes out in order to appreciate it at its jaw-dropping best.

The Alpine Route is a famous mountain sightseeing road snaking its way between mountains in the northern Japan Alps at an elevation of 3,000 metres.

The route is closed during winter, meaning that heavy snow piles up into fantastic walls of snow that are 20 metres tall in some places. The snow walls’ unbelievable appearance has even led some more imaginative visitors to compare it to similar scenes in Mario Kart, underscoring its fantastic, otherworldly appearance.
Towering snow walls

The route is open from April 15th until November 30th this year, allowing visitors to enjoy the stunning vistas and unique landscapes as they travel over, above and even under the majestic Mt. Tateyama and its towering snow tunnels - letting you "refresh with spectactular nature"!

The total length of the route is 37.2km, and visitors can make use of a variety of vehicles to explore every inch of it to the fullest, from cable cars and ropeways to trolley buses and even lake cruises. Some of the trolley buses here are the highest altitude ones in Japan, and are specially adapted to operate inside long tunnels piercing through the body of Mt. Tateyama.

Tateyama Ropeway, credit Toyama Tourism Promotion Organization

The range of airborne transportation also includes several unique options that are not for the faint of heart, though potential passengers with less of a head for heights can take comfort from Japan’s impeccable transport safety records. These include the only cable car in Japan without any pylons supporting it, a cable car with an average gradient of 24 degrees that elevates passengers 500 metres in a single trip, and the only underground cable car in Japan, allowing it to remain unaffected by snowfall.

One of the route’s most popular spots is Yuki-no-Otani (giant snow valley) at Murodo, whose great Snow Wall can reach stupendous heights of 20 metres - that’s as high as a 10 storey building! A 500 metre section of the road between the walls is open for walking and sledding from April until June.

In order to enjoy the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route to the fullest, we recommend the JR "Alpine-Takayama-Matsumoto Area Tourist Pass". The pass includes a round trip from Nagoya to the area centered around the Alpine Route, including charming destinations deep within the Japanese Alps such as Takayama, Gero, Shinano Omachi, Matsumoto, and the Kiso Valley, which includes Narai-Juku and Nagiso (parts of the famous Nakasendo).

The Japanese Alps

Costing 21,200 JPY, the pass allows holders to ride not only any JR line limited express train and local train in the area, but also any mode of transport along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route - including the unique cable cars and buses listed above - for a period of 5 days.

As well as the awe-inspiring snow walls, there are numerous opportunities for outdoor activities in the area, such as hiking and walking, camping, birdwatching, rock climbing, and forest bathing. The area is also home to several unusual and unique attractions:

  • Kurobe Dam - the tallest dam in Japan (186 metres)
  • Murodo Station - the highest altitude train station in Japan (2450 metres)
  • Shomyo Falls - the highest waterfall in Japan (350 metres)
  • Mikurigaike Onsen - the highest natural hot spring in Japan
  • Tateyama Murodo - the oldest mountain hut in Japan, built 200-300 years ago

Shomyo Falls, credit Toyama Tourism Promotion Organization


For more information about all the fantastic attractions on offer in the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route area see here: http://www.alpen-route.com/en/

See here for more information about the Alpine Pass: http://touristpass.jp/en/alpine/

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