This is a trip that I almost didn't get to experience...
I came to know Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route due to it's famous snow wall that happen in Spring every year. As we are heading to Japan in November, I didn't give much thought about going there at first... Until I came to realised we are actually quite near to Toyama Station from our planed trip to Shirakawa-go. Toyama is a usual starting point for the Alpine Route and I decided to see if it's worth doing a day trip since we are quite near.
After researching, I decide not to visit as it's near the end of their visiting season so there doesn't seems much left to see...at least that's what I thought. Also, there is a high chance that the route from Tateyama Station to Murodo could be close due to heavy snow.
Why I decided to visit anyway? My mind made up the moment I see the beautiful photo of Mikurigaike Pond at Murodo. It's a gut feeling that this is what will make this journey worth the effort, and I'm so right and wrong at the same time.
Instead of heading into the Alpine Route from Toyama side, I plan an entry from Nagano side to avoid the closure of the route due to heavy snow. We start our journey after a night stay at Matsumoto and leave our luggages behind as travelling light is preferred for this part of the journey.
If you are heading from Matsumoto, take JR Oito Line to Shinano-Omachi Station which is about an hour journey and take a bus to Ogizawa Station which is another 40 minutes bus ride. You can find more informations about this part of journey on the official site here.
Ogizawa station is where you can purchase the ticket for your transports on the Alpine Route, you can find more informations about the tickets here. A simple graphic of the route can be found here. From there, it's a mix of cable car, trolley bus, ropeway and walking to reach our destination at Murodo where our stay awaits us at Hotel Tateyama.
Hotel Tateyama is known for being a resort hotel located at the highest point in Japan at 2450 meters above sea level. This shot of the hotel front was taken the following day as on the day of arrival, there was a blizzard outside so we spend the rest of the day resting after a long trip.
< The hotel was built many years ago, a traditional theme is seen throughout, very nostalgic. >
I wake up very early next morning hoping to catch a sunrise on the Japanese alps, but the exit was literally frozen shut. After a wonderful breakfast, the hotel staff told me that the door is accessible.
Out we went and was greeted by the most amazing view we have on this trip.
If you are wondering if I've seen the beautiful Mikurigaike Pond that brought me here, the answer is no. The whole area is covered in knee deep snow after the blizzard last night, making exploring around on foot is not possible without the right equipments.
After exploring for sometime in the amazing landscapes, we headed back down. Due to the blizzard, the landscapes are mostly hidden in a shade of white yesterday. As the weather clears to a sunny day, the beauty presents itself in the most stunning way.
While most visitor rush over the Kurobe dam to the next station, we stroll along letting the beautiful landscapes sink in.
Once a while, there will be places where the beauty of the landscapes and experience will exceed anyones expectations, Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is one of those places. Although we didn't get to travel the full length of the route, probably just a mere 15% of what this amazing route can offer, I'm blown away by the experience. I highly recommend a day trip or even a two day trip with an overnight stay at Hotel Tateyama if you are in Toyama or Nagano prefectures.
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Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (Official site for Alpine Route)
Hotel Tateyama (Offical site for Hotel Tateyama)
Omachi Tourism (Offical Omachi Tourism)
Hyerdia.com (Timetable and Route Search in Japan)
Willer Bus (Bus Booking)
Japan Bus Online (Bus Booking)
Japan Bus Line (Bus Booking)
Shinkansen Ticket (Shinkansen Booking)
Japan Accessible Tourism Center (Check accessibility at Metro Stations)*
*I mainly use this for checking if there are any elevator at a particular station, very useful if you are lugging big luggage along.