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Climbing The Roof Of Japan – The Ultimate Guide To Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

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If you want to see the Japan Alps with stunning mountain views, beautiful green and lush valleys, the famous and impressive 18-m tall snow wall, and turquoise lakes, then the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a must! Read on to get everything you need to know about the Japan Alpine Route – how to get there, how to get tickets, how long it takes, and a description of the nine sections of the route.ย 

After some days in the big a bustling city and capital of Japan,w Tokyo, we were ready to dig deeper into the country and discover its wild side. So, as a Swedish couple that we met on a train in Kyoto said: “What do Norwegians do when they get to a country with mountains?!

Yep, you guessed it, since we come from a country packed with mountains and obviously love mountains, we headed inland to the Japan Alps to do the stunning Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. It was one of the biggest highlights of our entire Japan trip! ๐Ÿ™‚

The Ultimate Guide To Theย Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

The Japan Alps is a fairly big area inland of mid-Japan, with a few big cities such as Nagano and Toyama. This area is packed with high mountains and awesome peaks and wilderness. It surely is a hiker`s delight!

We decided to travel/ hike along the spectacular Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route when we visited Japan, and we loved it! It was so refreshing after spending weeks in big cities like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Tokyo!


What Is The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route?

โ™ฆ Season: Mid-April, May, June, July, August, September, October & November

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a popular and scenic 90 km route that crosses the northern part of the Japanese Alps from the east (Shinano Omachi Station) to the west (Dentetsu Toyama Station).

These Northern Alps are also called the Hida Mountains and stretch through Nagano, Toyama, and Gifu prefectures with several tall mountain peaks. The tallest mountain along the Japan Alpine Route is Mt. Tateyama (3015 m).

The Alpine Route is open from the 15th of April to the 30th of November (full route between Shinano Omachi and Dentetsu Toyama).

A partial route is open from the 10th to the 14th of April (between Dentetsu Toyama and Midagahara). The Alpine Route is completely closed during winter (1st of December – 9th of April).

The Alpine Route connects Shinano Omachi Station on the east side of the Japan Alps with Dentetsu Toyama Station on the west side (see the map below):


Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route goes from east to west through the northern part of the Japanese Alps. You will take nine different transport modesย 

It is an incredible journey through sacred mountains, wilderness, forests, impressive tunnels, high peaks, hot springs, and Japan`s highest dam Kurobe Dam. Plus a ton of fresh mountain air!

In spring, April – June, the Alpine Route is literally carved through the snow, making an impressive 18-meter high snow wall! The snow wall is a huge attraction in Japan and is a fantastic sight! Even at the end of June, the snow wall is usually over 10 meters high.

In autumn, September – November, the leaves change color from green to beautiful autumn colors of red, yellow, and brown. It is a stunning sight!

How To Buy Tickets For The Alpine Route

The only place you can reserve tickets for the Alpine Route is here (the official website of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route).

The ticket is valid for five days after you have exchange your WEB reservation ticket into an actual ticket at the ticket office (for instance at Ogizawa Station if you start on the east side, or at Tateyama Station if you start at the west side of the route).

You can, of course, buy Alpine Route tickets directly at the Ogizawa Station or Tateyama Station (depending on which side you want to start the Alpine Route) without any reservations. But I recommend that you make a ticket reservation if you plan on doing the Alpine Route during the peak seasons of spring (April, May & June) and autumn (September & October).

We did the Alpine Route in July and had no problems getting tickets without any reservations. We just showed up at Ogizawa Station in the morning and bought the ticket at the ticket counter for the same day.

How Much Does The Alpine Route Ticket Cost?

The Alpine Route ticket for the full route one-way (Shinano Omachi to Dentetsu Toyama) cost:

  • 11050 Yen = US$ 103 (adult)
  • 5550 Yen = US$ 52 (child, 6-11 years old)
  • Children below 6 years old can do the Alpine Route for free

The Alpine Route is unfortunately not covered by the JR Pass.

But you can use the JR Pass to get to the start of the Alpine Route. You can use the JR Pass to get to Shinano Omachi Station if you want to start on the east side of the Alpine Route, or to Dentetsu Toyama Station if you want to start on the west side.

We used JR Passes to get from Tokyo to Shinano Omachi Station where we started our Alpine Route trip.

See the fares for the Alpine Route tickets here

Doing The Alpine Route From East To West

We did the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route from the east to west, starting in Shinano Omachi and ending up in Dentetsu Toyama.

You can do the Alpine Route in either direction, also from west to east (Dentetsu Toyama to Shinano Omachi). Most people do it one way only, but you can do it as a round-trip. Or you can only do half the Alpine Route, and do a return trip to Murodo which is the routeยดs highest point.

This guide describes how to do the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route from east to west, starting in Matsumoto and ending in Dentetsu Toyama, and on to Kanazawa.

The whole Alpine Route is divided into nine sections, each with different transport modes and walking distances:

A map of the Japan Alpine RoutePin
The Japan Alpine Route goes from Shinano Omachi (east) to Dentetsu Toyama (west)

Tokyo – Matsumoto – Shinano Omachi

From Tokyo, we took the train to Matsumoto city (a 4-hour train trip) where we stayed the night. Early next morning we took another train from Matsumoto Station to Shinano Omachi Station – the start of the Alpine Route (a 1-hour train trip).

We bought the Japan Railway Pass (JR Pass) online before entering Japan, which we used on these two train trips. I highly recommend that you buy a JR Pass. It will save you a lot of money!

Matsumoto

Matsumoto is a relatively small valley city in Japan standard (243 000 inhabitants) embraced by seven tall peaks all above 3000 m as well as three smaller ones. The valley where Matsumoto is situated is no more than 20 km across at its widest. It is a cozy little city with a beautiful castle – Matsumoto Castle or Crow Castle as it is also called due to its black and white color.

We stayed at the Richmond Hotel in Matsumoto for one night, on our way to our Japanese Alpine Route adventure. Richmond Hotel has a convenient and central location, just a short walk from Matsumoto Train Station. The rooms are not the biggest, but most hotels in Japan have small rooms.

We woke up at the crack of dawn in Matsumoto, checked out of the hotel, and took the 08:00 (8 am) train to Shinano-Omachi station, where the Alpine Route starts.

1. Shinano Omachi – 712 m above sea level

When we arrived at the Shinano-Omachi Station, we went straight over to the Baggage Forwarding Service office to drop off our backpacks.

The Baggage Forwarding Service office (marked “Alps Roman Kan”) is on your right when you get out of the Shinano Omachi Train Station.

The cost per bag is 1300 JPY = US$ 12 from Shinano Omachi Station to Dentetsu Toyama Station (where the Alpine Route ends). It might be a little expensive, but it is really a must-do, as traveling with big backpacks on the Alpine Route would be really uncomfortable.

The Alpine Route Forwarding Service Office at Shinano Omachi Station has open from 8:00 a.m. to 11:10 a.m for drop-off. You can then pick up your bags at either Dentetsu Toyama Station (between 15:30 – 18:00) or Tateyama Station (between 15:30 – 17:30).

You can also have your bags picked up at your hotel and delivered to your next hotel. Read more about the Baggage Forwarding Service here

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The Alpine Route Baggage Office

After we got rid of our bags, we bought a bus ticket to Ogizawa (just in front of the train station) and jumped on the bus.

2. Ogizawa – 1433 m

The bus ride from Shinano-Omachi to Ogizawa takes about 40 minutes.

During that time the weather, unfortunately, turned really bad! It was raining cats and dogs! ๐Ÿ™ Ah, how unlucky! Our mood sank and we started to think that we had not picked the right day for our Alpine Route adventure and regretted the whole thing.

We actually even thought about skipping it, but we had already handed in our luggage and paid for the bus ride, so there was really no turning back at this point.

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View from the bus ride to Ogizawa. It was raining a LOT! ๐Ÿ™
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Ogizawa trolley-bus station. The weather situation was not looking good…..

When we arrived at Ogizawa, we headed over to the ticket office and bought the Alpine Route tickets.

The Alpine Route tickets cost 11050 JPY (US$ 103) per person from Shinano Omachi to Dentetsu Toyama Station, including the bus ticket from Shinano Omachi to Ogizawa.

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Buying tickets for the Alpine Route.

We made the 10:00 trolley-bus departure.

The trolley-bus ride was pretty cool and took us through a 5,8 km tunnel up to the giant Kurobe-dam. The trolley-bus ride took 16 minutes.

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Lots of people on the 10:00 AM trolley bus through the 5,8 km long tunnel. Mostly Japanese tourists.

3. Kurobe Dam – 1470 m

When we got out of the trolley bus and the tunnel, the weather had improved and it had stopped raining! Yay! ๐Ÿ™‚

The Kurobe Dam is Japan`s highest dam (186 m) and an very impressive sight!

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The Kurobe Dam, Japans highest

From the trolley-bus station, we climbed the 220 steps up to the Observation Desk.

Once on top, we were rewarded with amazing views over the dam and its surroundings! All the steps were totally worth it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Kurobe Dam
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Beautiful mountain views from the Kurobe Dam

Incredibly 10 tons of water shoot out of the dam every second! EVERY SECOND! Oh my god, that is a LOT of water! ๐Ÿ™‚

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10 tons of water pours out from the dam every second!

After World War II, Japan had a sudden economic boom and faced a severe energy shortage. To generate additional electricity the government invested in hydroelectric power and decided to build the Kurobe Dam.

Unbelievably 10 million people worked on the dam during its construction! The hardest part was apparently digging the tunnel that the Kanden Tunnel Trolleybus now runs through.

After the construction of the dam, a movie entitled โ€œSun over Kurobeโ€ was released starring famous Japanese actors. This film gave the Kurobe Dam a legendary status similar to the Hoover Dam in the USA.

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When standing on the deck close to the dam, one could really feel and hear the water pressure.
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You can walk across the Kurobe Dam on a walkway

Inside the mountain, there is also a museum, where you can read and see a movie from when the dam was built. Unfortunately, not much of it is in English. Here is also a monument over the 171 workers who sadly lost their lives during the construction of the dam.

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A small museum at the Kurobe Dam, telling the story of how it was built

After we had admired the view from the Observation Deck and been to the museum, we walked on the pathway across the dam (took about 15 minutes) to the Kurobeko cable car station on the other side of the dam.

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Walking across the dam to the Kurobeko Station. The walk takes about 15 minutes.

Here we jumped on the underground cable car, which took us to Kurobedaira (5 minutes).

4. Kurobedaira – 1828 m

When we stepped out of the cable car, we were hit by the cool, fresh and clear mountain air. It was so refreshing to breathe in the air and take in the breathtaking mountain scenery all around us.

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In the middle of the stunning Japan Alps

By this time the sun had decided to peak out from the clouds and say hi to us. Very nice! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Me posing at the Kurobedaira sign, 1828 m above sea level.
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Lovely mountain views

After taking in the mountain view, we took the Tateyama Ropeway, which brought us 488 m further up to Daikanbo. The Ropeway took 7 minutes, and the views were spectacular!

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The Tateyama Ropeway, which brought us 488 m further up to Daikanbo
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The ropeway ride takes about 7 minutes and the views are spectacular!

5. Daikanbo – 2316 m

From Daikanbo the views were even better than at Kurobe dam. The view over the valley below with its small greenish lake was absolutely stunning!

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Breathtaking view at Daikanbo
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Lovely fresh mountain air
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Here they have built a nice observation deck with tables and chairs

After a short break and a sit-down at the Daikanbo observation deck, taking in the sun and the views, we boarded another trolley bus. This time it was a tunneling one through Mt Tateyama for 3,7 km to Murodo. This trolleybus took 10 minutes.

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The trolley bus taking us 3,7 km through the Mt Tateyama tunnel to Murodo (a 10 min ride).

6. Murodo – The Highest Point Of The Alpine Route – 2450 m

And “wosh“, after 10 minutes on the trolley bus we were all of a sudden on the other side of the 3015 m high mountain Tateyama.

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Tateyama Mountain somewhere in the clouds

Murodo is the highest point on the Alpine Route unless you want to climb the Mt Tateyama by foot.

In the 17th-19th centuries, Mt Tateyama became one of Japanโ€™s three holy mountains along with Mt. Fuji and Mt. Hakusan and became very popular among pilgrims. Mt. Tateyama overlooking the valley of hell came to represent heaven. People were climbing Mt. Tateyama hoping that their souls would go to heaven after their death. Unfortunately, due to the fog and cloudy weather, we did not even see Mt Tateyama.

From Murodo you can take several short and long hikes to the neighboring mountains and mountain huts, cafes, and onsens (hot springs).

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An overview of some of the hikes one can take in the Murodo area.

Here you really feel that you are in nature and in the mountains. We decided to do a short hike to Mikurigaike Pond.

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Nice pathway to the Mikurigaike Pond
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Me drinking fresh and cold mountain water. Delicious!
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Even though we were walking at 2450 m altitude, it was very green and lush.

Even at 2450 m, we found some beautiful mountain flowers. In comparison, the highest mountain back home in Norway, actually the highest mountain in Scandinavia, is Galdhรธpiggen at 2469 m. We have climbed it, and it is only rocks and snow and no grass, flowers or anything. So it is a bit strange but very nice to be at this latitude with so much vegetation around.

 

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The weather was not perfect, but at least it was not raining.
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We were not the only one hiking to Mikurigaike Pond.
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Almost there….

Finally, we reached Mikurigaike Pound.

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The Mikurigaike Pound
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The Mikurigaike Pound is surrounded by several tall mountains of 3000 meter
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There was still some snow left at the Mikurigaike Pound

Hotel Tateyama

At this highest point of the Alpine Route, there is actually a hotel called Hotel Tateyama! I know, it was a big surprise for us too.

At Hotel Tateyama there is a restaurant/ cafe, and even Japan’s highest onsen (hot spring)! This is the perfect place to stay if you want to do the Alpine Route over several days and go hiking in the area or just relax a bit with fantastic mountain views.

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Hotel Tateyama is located at the highest point of Alpine Route – Murodo
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Hotel Tateyama has Japan’s highest onsen (hot spring) and a great restaurant

From Hotel Tateyama there are several great hiking options, like the Jigokudani Onsen (Hell Valley Hot Springs) which is about 20 minutes hike. But this is not a bathing onsen, as the water is boiling hot!

You can also hike to the east, for about two hours, to the peak Oyama (3003 m), which apparently has a very steep final section. It is also possible to hike for several days/ a week further south to Kamikochi. Or you can hike to Mt. Tateyama (about 4 hours).

The hotel organized several nice free tours, like stargazing, hiking, and bird-watching. And you can borrow snow boots and hiking poles for free.

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On our way back, with the Hotel Tateyama in the background.

7. The Way Down – Bijodaira 927 m & Tateyama 475 m

After our hike to Mikurigaike Pond, we continued the trek down with a bus to Bijodaira. The bus ride took about 50 minutes, through green and lush forest with huge cedar trees.

It is possible to break the trip from Murodo to Bijodaira and stop for walks along the way, but we did unfortunately not have the time.

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Taking the bus down from Murodo to Bijodaira.
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Beautiful scenery from the bus window.

The last stage of the Alpine Route is with the cable car down from Bijodaira to Tateyama, which takes 7 minutes.

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The last stage of the Alpine Route, the cable car down to Tateyama.

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8. The End – Tateyama and Toyama

From Tateyama we took the train to Toyama (1 hour). At Toyama train station we picked up our backpacks. It was, however, a bit tricky to find the office where the Baggage Delivery Center is! It turned out there is no real office, you just have to talk to the ticket officer at the train platform, and he will give you your luggage. ๐Ÿ™‚

We reached Toyama at approximately 5 p.m. We started out in Matsumoto at around 8 a.m, so altogether the whole Alpine Route took us nine hours (from Matsumoto to Toyama).

The baggage pick-up office at the other end of the Alpine Route (Toyama Station) closes at 20:00 (8 pm), so make sure that you reach Toyama Station before it closes.

From Toyama, we took the train to Kanazawa (35 min) where we had bookedย a room at Hotel Trusty. The hotel was fantastic! Very good location in the middle of everything, and brand new. Will highly recommend it! It was the nicest hotel we stayed at in Japan.
Click here for the latest prices on Hotel Trusty, Kanazawa

โ‡’ Check out why we think you should visit Kanazawa and read about the top things to do in Kanazawa

The Alpine Route Japan is a very nice trip! We really enjoyed it, and we’re pleased that the weather turned out OK in the end. It was lovely to breathe in some fresh mountain air again and get to see some breathtaking mountain scenery. We highly recommend the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route!

If you want to join book a guided mountain hiking tour, like to Mt Tateyama or a snowshoe tour, then the Tateco – Tateyama Eco Tours is a great choice and has a lot of tours to choose from.

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Step-By-Step Summary

Altogether we spent approximately this amount of time on the transport and walking around at each place of the route:

1. Train from Matsumoto (where we slept) to Shinano-Omachi โ€“ 1 hour
This train is NOT included in the Alpine Route ticket, so you have to buy this train ticket in addition.

I recommend that you buy a Japan Rail Pass. This pass is only for tourists, however, and you have to buy this outside of Japan before you go there. We bought the 14 days pass (441 us$) and saved a lot of money compared to buying single tickets on the train. You can order a JR Pass online from official JR Pass agents such as JRailPass.com.

Click here for prices & information on how to order the JR Pass online

Shinano-Omachi Train Station is where the baggage delivery service is, so you hand in your luggage here. 1540 JPY = 15 us$ per bag to get it delivered to Toyama Train Station.

2. Bus from Shinano-Omachi to Ogizawa โ€“ 40 min
This is NOT included in the Alpine Route ticket. This bus ticket cost 1360 JPY = 13 us$ per person.

3. Trolleybus from Ogizawa to Kurobe Dam โ€“ 16 min
At Kurobe Dam we spent some time, maybe about 1,5 hours. We walked around, took pictures, looked at the small museum and so on. You can spend less time there, or more time. :)Pin There is also a small ferry cruise on the dam (takes 2,5 hours), but we did not take this. Don`t know how much that cost.

4. Cable car from Kurobe Dam to Kurobedaira โ€“ 5 min
We did not spend much time at Kurobedaira but had lunch at a cafe there (maybe 30 min).

5. The ropeway from Kurobedaira to Daikanbo โ€“ 7 min
We did not spend much time at Daikanbo. It is not a big area to walk on there, just a platform/viewpoint.

6. Trolleybus from Daikanbo to Murodo โ€“ 10 min
This is the highest point of the route. Now you are really in the mountains and can go for long or short walks. We spent maybe 1,5 hours here altogether. We hiked the Mukurigaike Pond Loop (1 hour). But we did not take a bath in the Onsen at Mukurigaike Inn (which I regret).
From Murodo you can also climb Mt. Tateyama (takes about 4 hours).

7. Bus from Murodo to Bijodaira โ€“ 50 min
We spent no time in Bijodaira, only waited for the cable car. But you can do walks from Bijodaira too, or jump off the bus on its way from Murodo to Bijodaira to do walks along the way. We did not do this.

8. Cable car from Bijodaira to Tateyama โ€“ 7 min
We spent no time in Tateyama, only waited for the train. You can choose to end your Alpine Route journey here if you want to sleep in Tateyama. But there is not much to see in Tateyama.

9. Train from Tateyama to Toyama โ€“ 1 hour
Toyama is the end of the Alpine Route, and the end of the Alpine Route ticket. Here we picked up our bags.

10. Train from Toyama to Kanazawa โ€“ 35 min
We chose to go to Kanazawa straight away, and not sleep in Toyama as we had heard that Kanazawa is a nicer city with much more to see. But you can of course sleep in Toyama. It is a quite big city.ย We reached Kanazawa around 6 pm.

โ‡’ Check out our ultimate guide to the best things to do in Kanazawa if you are planning on heading there

Doing The Alpine Route Over 2-3 Days

We did the Alpine Route as a day trip, but it is a great idea to do it over 2-3 days. Then you can do some more hiking and see more of the stunning landscape. It is also a bit more relaxed and you can enjoy it more.

The best place to stay when doing the Alpine Route over several days is to stay at one of the hotels along the route, or at either of the starting point – Shinano-Omachi Station (east side of the route) or Dentetsu Toyama (west side).

Hotels Along The Alpine Route

There are two nice hotels in the mountains along the Alpine Route:

Hotel Tateyama

Hotel Tateyama is a resort hotel located at the highest point of the Alpine Route – Murodo (see step 6. Murodo in this article), 2 450 meters above sea level. The hotel is at the center of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. The panoramic view of the 3 000-meter mountains surrounding the hotel is stunning!

Here you can go hiking, and the hotel has several free tours that you can join like a special bus tour to see the sunrise from a mountain top, snow wall walking tour, star gazing tour, and bird watching tour. You also get to borrow snow boots and trekking poles for free. This is the place to stay if you want to hike Mt. Tateyama.

The hotel offers a baggage forwarding service (to and from the hotel) and has free lockers where you can leave your belongings after check-out and go exploring the area. The hotel’s hot spring (onsen) is fantastic, and you can even book a private bath if you like. The set dinner is great too with high-quality food (Japanese and French). The WIFI is actually quite strong too. Staying on top of the mountain is a unique experience!
Click here for the latest prices

Midagahara Hotel

The Midagahara Hotel is located right in the national park that the Alpine Route runs through and is the perfect hotel to stay at for exploring the Alpine Route. You can reach the hotel from either the eastern side (Shinano-Omachi and Ogizawa Station) or the western side (Tateyama Station). You take the cable car and bus to reach it, and the hotel is right beside the bus stop (2 min walk). The hotel has luggage storage so you can store your luggage at the hotel while you do the Alpine Route.

The hotel has two nice restaurants, one serving traditional and delicious Japanese food (Dainichi Restaurant), and the other French cuisine (Yakushi Restaurant). The service is fantastic and the staff speaks English. The breakfast buffet is great with a lot to choose from, perfect before embarking on the Alpine Route. And the public bath (onsen) is fantastic and just what you need after being out in the alps the whole day. There are nice hiking trails just around the hotel and there is also a free guided tour. Nothing beats the mountain views from the hotel.
Click here for the latest prices

Hotels Near The Start Of The Alpine Route

Another option is to stay close to where the Alpine Route starts on the east side, close to the JR Shinano-Omachi Station, or on the west side, close to JR Toyama Station. Why not try a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in this area?

Here are a few nice hotels/ ryokans close to the start of the Alpine Route on the east side – JR Shinano-Omachi Station:

โ€“ย Hotel Yume-no-yuย (12-min drive from JR Shinano-Omachi Station)
โ€“ย Kurobe View Hotelย (20-min bus trip from JR Shinano-Omachi Station)
โ€“ย Hotel Keisuiย (15-min drive from JR Shinano-Omachi Station)

When Is The Best Time To Do The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

The closing and opening dates for the Alpine Route Tateyama Kurobe are:

  • Full route (Shinano Omachi – Dentetsu Toyama) is open: 15th of April ย – 30th of November
  • Partial route (Dentetsu Toyama โ€“ Midagahara) is open: 10th – 14th of April
  • The route is completely closed during winter: 1st of December – 9th of April

The Alpine Route is awesome all year round (when it is open), and each season has its highlight:

Spring – April, May & June

When the route opens in mid-April, you can see huge and impressive 18-meter tall snow/ice walls on each side of the road. This melts during April, May, and June and is more or less completely gone in July.

In June, spring is on in the mountains with beautiful spring flowers, birds singing, and everything gets green.ย Even in late June, the snow walls are still over 10 meters high. There are fewer visitors in June, so you can enjoy a more relaxing experience.

Summer – July & August

Summer is the best season for hiking, sightseeing, climbing, and walking in the mountains as the temperatures are pleasantly warm. There is still some snow at the highest point of the route (Murodo) that you can play around with.

Autumn – September, October & November

The autumn is on in September, turning nature into stunning colors of yellow, orange, and red. The leaves take six weeks to change color and it begins at the end of September.

The autumn colors lastย until the beginning of November. The change begins in higher areas and moves down the mountain. During a trip, you can see all kinds of colors and white snow-covered mountain peaks. Stunning!

How Long Does The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Take

The full one-way Tatekyama Kurobe Alpine Route takes at least six to seven hours, depending on the wait for transport and how much hiking you want to do.

We used nine hours all together from Matsumoto to Kanazawa:

  • Transport: 4,5 hours from Matsumoto to Toyama. 35 min more to Kanazawa.
  • Walking and waiting for transport: 4,5 hours (but can be done shorter, or longer)
  • Total time spent on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route: 9 hours

We spent the exact same amount of time on transport and on walking/ waiting for transport.

Baggage Delivery Service

We dropped off our luggage at the Baggage Delivery Service counter at the Shinano-Omachi Station, also called “Alps Roman Kan” (located just next to JR Shinano Omachi Station). Drop off time is between 08:00 (8 am) and 11:10 (11:10 am) and no reservation is needed. You are given a baggage forwarding tag that you fill out and attach to your luggage and it will be delivered to your end stop, for instance, Toyama train station where the alpine route ends.

Your bags can then be reclaimed at Dentetsu Toyama train station between 15:30 (3:30 pm) and 20:00 (8 pm). The cost per bag is 1300 JPY = 12 us$ from Shinano Omachi train station to Toyama train station.

You can also have your luggage shipped directly from your hotel and to the next hotelย that you plan on staying at. Read more about that here.


It is possible to only do parts of this trip, and also do it the other way around. You can get more information about this trip on the Alpine Route webpage: http://www.alpen-route.com/en/

โ‡’ We love the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and it is on our recommended two-week Japan Itinerary which you can find here

Unfortunately, you cannot see Mount Fuji on this alpine route. If seeing Mt Fuji is on your bucket list, you should consider visiting Hakone and/ or Fuji Five Lakes which are both close to Tokyo (1,5 – 2 hours train ride).


Travel Guides

We used Lonely Planet`s Japan Travel Guide on our trip. You can get that and other great books by clicking on the pictures below which will take you to Amazon.com (affiliate links):



PIN IT FOR LATER!
Hover over the pictures below, and press the red “SAVE” button that pops up:

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine RoutePinย ย ย ย ย  Guide to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine RoutePin

Guide to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine RoutePinย ย ย ย ย  Tateyama Kurobe Alpine RoutePin

Is the Japanese Alpine Route something you can picture yourself doing? Have you done similar routes somewhere else? Please leave a comment in the comment area below! Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Written by Maria Wulff Hauglann

Maria is a Norwegian travel nerd who has explored more than thirty countries on four continents. She holds a master's degree in Computer Science, as well as an MBA. In 2014 while on a year-long trip across South East- Asia, Maria co-founded the travel blog Nerd Nomads to help others get out and explore the world. In 2018 she left her day job permanently for a life of full-time travel. See our about page for more about Maria.

96 Comments

  1. Wow! What beautiful looking territory. Never even knew that Japan had their own version of the Alps. The trip looks fantastic. Thanks guys for continuing to share your adventures, much appreciated!

    Reply
    • Thanks James! It really was a great mountain trip! Incredibly green and lush, even above 2000 m. Back home in Norway nothing grows at this heights, only grey rocks.

      Reply
  2. If I ever make it to Japan, I would love to do this hike! The views look incredible! Definitely appears that all that jumping on and off various forms of transportation was worth it.

    I loved learning about the dam. Now I want to watch that movie!

    Reply
    • We also want to watch the film. Will try to find it, but it is probably only in Japanese though. The dam was such a gigantic building project, in very harsh conditions. So the film is probably pretty dramatic.

      Reply
  3. Wow! What a spectacular adventure. The water color at the Kurobe Dam and the rapid water would be worth the trip, even without the rest of the amazing scenes. How wonderful to be somewhere so clean you can drink the natural flowing water.

    Reply
    • We loved this trip Rhonda! I know, the water in the Kurobe Dam was so turquoise, it was almost magic! ๐Ÿ™‚

      The water in that small river was really cold and refreshing. Back home in Norway the water is also so clean that we can drink from all the rivers and lakes, as well as the tap. Very nice to be able to do that again. Nothing beats fresh clean flowing water from the rivers!

      Reply
  4. Hi. Looks like a great day out in the mountains.
    How much of the day did you spend walking and how much was transportation? And what was the final costs for the hike? Did you take a bath in the onseen? If so, how was it?

    Reply
  5. Hi. It looks like an amazing hike. We are going to japan in april, and this is now something we will have to consider. When did you go? How much of the time were you walking compared to time spent on transport?

    Reply
    • Hi Elisabeth!

      We did the Alpine Route in the end of July. As you can see in this post it was raining when we started out from Ogizawa, but it got better and better and in the end we even got sun. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a bit cold at the top even in July, so I bet it is even colder in April so bring warm clothes and good shoes. It might also be some snow up in there in April.

      Altogether we did this trip in 9 hours (8 am – 5 pm), but it all depends on how much time you want to spend at each place of this trip, and how much you want to walk around on each place and at the top (Murodo).

      When you get to the top at Murodo, you can choose to go on a long hike for hours or even days and weeks around the mountains in the area (there are several mountain huts where you can sleep and eat). Or you can choose just a short walk like we did. We did the Mikurigaike Pond Loop hike (took about 1 hour altogether). At the Mikurigaike Inn you can take a bath in the Onsen, but we did not do it (did not have the time, and it was a lot of people and very crowded). We took Onsen several other places in Japan during our trip. Onsen was great, you definitely should try it somewhere in Japan! So you can easily spend more time at the top in Murodo than we did if you want.

      But you can do this trip in less than 9 hours too, maybe as short as 6 hour, if you don`t want to walk around. The baggage pickup office in Toyama close close at 6 pm., so you have to time it so you get to Toyama by then.

      Have updated this article with the info you asked about, like how much time did we spend on the transportation and walking, how much money did we spend and so on. It is under “Conclusion/ Summary”.

      We really recommend this trip if you want to see some of the Japan Alps. This is probably the most “compact” alpine trip that you can get in Japan in one day. You get to see a lot of the alps in a short time! You can read more about this Journey here: http://www.alpen-route.com/en/

      Have a great trip to Japan in April! I am sure you will love it there! It is such a great country with amazing food! Read more about what food you should try here: https://nerdnomads.com/japanese-food.

      I have written more blog posts from Japan, both from Matsumoto and Kanazawa where we started and ended our Alpine Journey, that will be published in the upcoming weeks. So stay tuned! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  6. Maria, What fun! I love the greens, and I’ll bet it was a nice respite from the Tokyo heat and humidity. I love all the different types of transportation you had to take as well.

    Reply
    • Yeah, it was so refreshing to get up in the mountains after spending a week in Tokyo! Felt like we could breathe again! ๐Ÿ™‚ All the different transportation was half the fun of the trip! The tunnels were quite impressive.

      Reply
  7. Sounds like an amazing trip! I didn’t even know there was such thing as the Japan Alps. I can’t believe how cute the trolleybus is, and what amazing views from the top of the dam! A great day out.

    Reply
    • The Japan Alps is great both summer and winter! The skiing is supposed to be excellent with lots of powder snow and there are many skiing resorts in the area. I really want to go back in the winter season, as I love skiing. ๐Ÿ™‚ It sure was a great day out Margherita, with tons of lovely fresh air!

      Reply
  8. What an awesome experience this must have been! I have never been to Japan but you have me sold after reading this post. Never knew anything about the Japanese Alps but honestly they look comparable to the Alps we all know in Europe!

    Reply
    • We have a lot of mountains where we live in Norway, but the Japan Alps really amazed us! I will absolutely say that they are comparable to the European Alps Chris, just as high and spectacular, with great skiing/ snowboarding during winter.

      Reply
  9. What a wonderful way to see Japan, especially in contrast to all those big, congested cities you had been in. I’ve been to Mt. Fuji and Hakone, but I did not get a chance to see the route you took. It’s so beautiful, and that dam is mighty impressive. Good tip about paying attention to the time so that you can make it back to pick up your luggage.

    Reply
    • Lucky you that have been to Mt Fuji, Michele! We so wanted to go to Hakone and see Mt Fuji, but I got sick and the weather was really bad, so unfortunately we had to cancel it. So glad we got to do this trip in the Japan Alps though, it was definitely one of the highlights of our Japan trip!

      Reply
  10. WOW! I’m blown away by all the pictures, from the dam (that is one impressive dam!) to the ropeway ride views, to Mikurigaike Pond. Thanks for sharing such a detailed post! I mayyyyy be in Tokyo next May, and would love to get out of the city and into the mountains. But looking at all the transportation you took is making my head hurt, lol! I’m going to pin this just in case though. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • Hehe, yeah it was a lot of transportation Anna, but it was very easy and just to follow everybody else. You can`t get lost or miss the transportation. The transportation was no hassle really, it was actually half the fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Lucky you that may be in Tokyo next May! It is such a great city, one of my favorites! Thanks for the pin Anna! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  11. What a comprehensive post. There is nothing left unturned. You should be really proud of that effort = and those photos! Big thanks for linking up with us for #SundayTraveler

    Reply
    • Thank you so much SJ! Hehe, yeah it was a lot of work writing this post. It became a bit too long in the end, but I really wanted it to be informative in case some of our readers want to do the same trip. We had a hard time figuring everything out and finding information before we did this journey. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for hosting the #SundayTraveler, it is such a great linkup!

      Reply
  12. Hi, Its great to find this post. I will go with my friends in April but there is something that is bugging me the most.

    Did you bought the tickets to the alps on the day of ur journey itself? Or you bought it earlier? I am afraid there is such thing as ticket sold out or whatsoever. Thanks ^^

    Reply
    • Hi Masmona,

      We bought the tickets the same day as the journey. We just went to the ticket office in the morning, and shortly after started the journey. But if you worry that it might get sold out, you should make a ticket reservation at their webpage: http://www.alpen-route.com/ticket/en/information.html. The full route opens again 16th of April.

      Have a great trip! I`m sure you will love it! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  13. Thanks so much for this post. I plan to do this trip in a fortnight and you have answered every question I had. Much appreciated. I will now browse the rest of your site as it is sure to be equally helpful!

    Reply
    • So happy to hear that our post could be of help to you Wendy! Hope you will enjoy this alpine route as much as we did, have an awesome trip!

      Reply
  14. Maria, thank you very much for your wonderful report. I’m a Japanese woman born, bred and live in Tokyo. Tateyama is one of my favorite places for photo shooting. You took exactly the same route as I took three years ago. Kurobe dam is very impressive and so are the various kinds of transportation. The route is interesting if you don’t have to bring your camera equipment! However I’m determined to take the route from Toyama side next time, especially now the new bullet train operates from Tokyo. From Toyama you can take a bus that brings you straight up to Murodo. What a pity it was only a day trip. Even if you don’t go mountaineering, at least an overnight stay would have been an awesome experience. You will be able to see an ermine or two, or Japanese Ptarmigans, our special national ttreasure. Oh, and if you are lucky, stars reflected on Mikuriga Pond!

    Reply
    • Hi Miyoko Ito,

      Thank you so much for your nice and informative comment! We really want to come back and do this route again, and next time we will definitely bring our mountain gear from back home and do some more mountain climbing and stay overnight at the lovely cabins along the way. And of course, take Onsen. We fell in love with this area, so beautiful and peaceful with lovely fresh air. We do a lot of mountain walking and climbing back home in Norway, both summer and wintertime. We plan to visit Japan in wintertime, to go skiing in the Nagano area.

      Would love to see Japanese Ptarmigans! We have Willow Ptarmigans here in Norway, they are so beautiful and taste delicious too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Stars reflecting on the Mikuriga Pond sounds amazing!

      Cheers,
      Maria

      Reply
    • Hi Maria, thanks for such an informative post and the pictures are stunning. I’m heading to Japan next week and was thinking of doing this tour, although I know the conditions will be different in November. I’m keen on doing this from Tokyo and perhaps spending the night. Any recommendations? Thank you! Cheers, Nikita.

      Reply
      • Hi Nikita,

        Thank you so much! Happy to hear that you like our post! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Lucky you who are heading to Japan next week, you will love it!

        We went from Tokyo to Matsumoto (about 4 hours with train), and stayed the night at Richmond Hotel. We started on the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route early the next morning.

        After the Alpine Route, we went straight to Kanazawa City where we stayed at Hotel Trusty, a stunning hotel with perfect location!

        There are some accommodation options up in the mountains too, they are all listed here: http://www.alpen-route.com/en/information/accommodation.html

        Have a great trip to Japan, and have fun doing the Alpine Route! I`m sure it is absolutely breathtaking in October, with the autumn colors and everything. Just bring some warm clothes as it might be cold up there this time of year.

        Cheers,
        Maria

        Reply
  15. Hey Maria, Thanks for showing us this wonderful regions in Japan.
    I will be visiting Japan next month. Would you suggest me to visit Alps route in Nov (~20Nov) ? Will it be worthy?

    Reply
    • Hi UltraWideLife,

      We took this route in the end of July, but I`m sure it will be spectacular also at wintertime in November with snow covered mountains. The temperature will drop below zero in November, so bring warm clothes, gloves and a hat, and waterproof winter boots. Be aware that the route closes 1st of December, so 30th of November is the last day it is open. Updated information about the route can be found here: http://www.alpen-route.com/en/.

      Have a great trip to Japan next month! I`m sure you will love it!

      Cheers,
      Maria

      Reply
  16. Maria, we have recently returned from a trip to Japan where we also took the opportunity to get some ‘mountain time’ by going on the Tateyama Kurobe Alipine Route in October. We stayed in the town of Shinano Omachi for two nights in a Ryoken near the train station. We planned to only do half the route by going to Murodo and return, and as a result of getting an early start (we caught the 7am bus) we were able to take our time. The weather was absolutely perfect and we had a great day out. Similar to you we caught the bus, then all of the different forms of transport up to Murodo – our kids absolutely loved it!

    We did the walk around Kurobe Dam which had a huge amount of water being released, and really enjoyed seeing the fall foliage colours when we took the ropeway. At Murodo we did the walk around the lake and got to see (and smell!) Hell Valley. It was fascinating to see such a volcanic area at the top of the mountain range!

    We were able to take our time to do the walk and then we started the long route back down the mountain, arriving back at our Ryokan by around 4pm, with enough time to enjoy the Ryokan hot baths before a lovely dinner. Overall it was a fantastic day out and I was really pleased that the weather was perfect for our big day and that we didn’t need to use our ‘back up day’ option.

    I think if you plan to visit that it is really important to be able to plan your itinerary so you only have a single day that you can possibly do the trip – just like in any mountain area flexibility is important. Also, be aware that there are several accommodation options up on the mountain (and lockers at the various stops) so if you want to take more time to explore you can do the trip across multiple days.

    Reply
    • Hi Anne,

      Wow, you really had a great time doing the Alpine Route! Great to hear that also kids like this kind of adventure and walks. Lucky you who got to see this area in fall colors. It was still summer when we visited, although the temperature was low up in the mountains.

      The Kurobe Dam is really impressive! All that water! We have pretty big dams here in Norway too, producing electricity, but nothing compared to this in size and location.

      We did not know that it was possible to spend the night up in the mountains. If we had we would definitely have stayed at one of the mountains hotels up there so that we could do more hikes. We wanted to take onsen/ hot springs at Mikurigaike Inn (Japans highest Onsen), but unfortunately, we did not have time as we had to catch the next transportation.

      We are planning to head back to this mountain area to do some more hiking over several days, maybe even a week.

      Thanks for commenting Anne, and giving additional travel tips regarding the Alpine Route! Really appreciate it!

      Cheers,
      Maria

      Reply
      • Maria, when I plan a trip I always have to deal with the dilemma in trying to fit in as much as possible without over doing it. These days I usually (but not always…) do a better job of planning a bit more time in each location so that we don’t need to rush around quite as much.

        I try to spend enough time researching the options to work out how much time I need to allow, and for this trip I was definitely concerned about whether the weather would play nice which is why we ended up staying for 2 nights at the bottom of the mountain in Shinano Omachi so that we could have some options. When we didn’t need to use our back up day we caught the earlier bus to Nagano and had enough time to visit the main temple in Nagano (which was fabulous by the way) before picking up our hire car. It wasn’t planned but ended up being a great option to do some more exploration which I had not planned.

        Reply
  17. Hi dear,

    am soooo thankful I chanced upon your blog post. Am still a little uncertain. Does the alpine option ticket allow me to take the different modes of transport (cable car, bus, trains) from Nagano to Toyama?

    TIA! ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep up the geat posts by the way!

    Reply
    • Hi Michelle,

      Yes, the Alpine Route ticket allows you use all the different transportations on the Alpine Route (bus cable car, train and so on are included in the ticket). The ticket is from Ogizawa to Toyama. So you would have to take the train from Nagano to Ogizawa first, which is not inlcuded in the Alpine Route ticket.

      You can read more about the ticket options at their webpage: http://www.alpen-route.com/en/

      Have a great time doing the Alpine Route, you will love it! Hope you get nice weather! ๐Ÿ™‚

      -Maria-

      Reply
  18. Thank you for sharing your adventure and details especially including your time spent in each section as we are planning to do something very similar and are a little concerned about the timing to make sure we can pick up our bags before closing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Which leads me to my question, since it seems like there is no way to contact the alpine route people, baggage service, or even hotel to ask them except via phone. When you dropped off your bags, besides the train station are there other places you can request to have your bags delivered to? I know on their site it lists hotels with which you can drop your bags to have transported but wanted to know if we can drop it off at the Shinano-Omachi station and have it delivered to the hotel we’re staying at in Toyama. Any advice/info would be greatly appreciated! Hao

    Reply
  19. Hi Hao,

    We were a bit concerned too about not being able to reach the baggage office at Toyama train station before it closed at 6 p.m. But we managed to get there before closing time.

    On their web page: http://www.alpen-route.com/en/transport_new/baggage.html they list several hotels in Toyama where you can have your baggage delivered (from 4 p.m.):

    [Toyama City]
    Toyama-Chitetsu Hotel / Toyoko Inn Toyama-Ekimae1 / Toyama Dai-ichi Hotel / Toyama Excel Hotel Tokyu / Canal Park Hotel Toyama / Toyama Manten Hotel / APA Hotel Toyama / Hotel Dormy Inn Toyama / ANA Crowne Plaza Toyama / Hotel Grand Terrace Toyama / Daiwa Roynet Hotels Toyama / Comfort Hotel Toyama Ekimae / Hotel Route-INN Toyama Ekimae
    [Unazuki Onsen] Unazuki Kokusai Hotel / Unazuki Suginoi Hotel / Unazuki Grand Hotel / Hotel Togen / Enraku / Hotel Kurobe / Entaijiso / Green Hotel Kisen / San Yanagitei / Feel Unazuki

    You should probably contact one of these hotels in advanced, and ask if they have this service available and order it before you book a room there.

    Have a great trip doing the Japan Alpine Route! You will love it!

    -Maria-

    Reply
  20. Hi Maria! I love your posts! Is it required to leave your bags before doing the Alpine Route? I assume that the starting point is different from the ending point.

    Reply
    • Hi Ginelle,

      No, it is not required to leave your bags, it is just a service that they provide so that you don`t have to carry big bags on this whole trip. But you can bring your bag/ backpack along with you if you want. Some of these transportations can be crowded, however, and there are some walking so big bags are not so convenient.

      The starting point (Shinano-Omachi) is different from the ending point (Toyama).

      This is a great way to see some of the mountain areas of Japan, and get some fresh mountain air. ๐Ÿ™‚

      -Maria-

      Reply
  21. I was so confused regarding this day trip- until I read your blog! Thank you for the many small details and tips, I can now do this trail at ease (Noa from Israel). (:

    Reply
    • Hi Noa,

      Awww, thank you! So happy that our blog could clarify things and help you plan your trip to the Japanese alps.

      Have an awesome trip into the mountains and enjoy the fresh air! You will love it! Just remember to bring some warm clothes, as it gets pretty chilly up there.

      -Maria-

      Reply
  22. Wonderful post. I referred your blog and visited this route in April. I visited on the day, Snow corridor was opened. And even witnessed the opening ceremony by state officials. I totally loved walking on the snow fields of tengudiera and snow corridors of Murodo.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Ankur! Wow, the snow corridor looks awesome! Very cool! Would love to go back to this part of Japan and do some skiing.

      -Maria-

      Reply
  23. Hello! Love your 2 week itinerary. I leave with my bf on Friday for our own 2 week adventure. For the Alpine route, do you recommend reserving buses ahead of time?

    Reply
    • Hi Marian,

      Thank you so much! Wow, lucky you who are heading to Japan on a two-week trip! You will love this beautiful country!

      We did not reserve buses for the Alpine route and had no problem getting tickets. None of the buses were full.

      Have a great trip to Japan! Happy travels!

      Cheers,
      Maria

      Reply
  24. Thanks Maria for your vivid description.
    Seeking your advice and opinion. We are desiring to take our Mother to the Alpine Route – Ogizawa to Tateyama. The difficult area is the 220 steps to the Obs. Point. Can that be bypassed. She will manage to cross the dam, walking slowly. Are there any other areas in the course which require attention. Our travel time being April 2017 (after the 16th). Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Dushyant,

      As for the Kurobe Dam, you don`t have to go up the 220 steps to the observation deck, this is just an extra walk for those who want to get higher up to take photos. You can just stay down at the trolley-bus station, and walk over the dam on the flat pathway (no stairs) till the next train station. This is a short walk. You will still have beautiful views of the dam and its surroundings. No need to go up to the Observation Deck.

      The only places you have to walk a few stairs are at the train and cable car stations, but there are not many steps. So I would say that your mother will manage to do this trip perfectly. You don`t have to walk much if you don`t want to or manage. You will see lots of beautiful nature from each transportation (train, bus and cable cars) and can do short walks just around each station on flat terrain.

      At the web page for this trip, they write: โ€œWheelchair users and those concerned about walking have no need to worry. When negotiating the stairs and vehicles at each station, please feel free to contact a member of staff for assistance.โ€
      http://www.kanko-omachi.gr.jp/en/alpen_route/plan#p09

      I`m sure you and your mother will have a great trip into the Japanese Alps, it is truly a spectacular trip with amazing views. You will love it!

      Have a great trip to Japan!

      Best regards,
      Maria

      Reply
  25. Dear Espen and Maria
    Thank you for your very informative ”Blog” ( better than that ).
    I have emailed you before and got a answer, this when I first started thinking/planning ( no did not have a plan till I read your Blog) Then I used your Idea’s to plan our trip.
    So its 4 night Tokyo, 3 days. Nikko, 1 night, 1 night Nagano.
    Yes the Alpine Route. 2 nights Kanazawa, 3 night Kyoto
    1 night Osaka. .fly from there back to Thailand.
    T would have been lost without your information. Just re read your Alpine route again. I was not able to get that info anywhere else. I could not go Matsumoto etc .All hotels are Full?? this seems crazy for 11 months in advance? So unable to get in your recommended Hotels sob sob ( they look good) I think too many are reading and booking from your “Blog”.
    Thanks again for your brilliant Blog/ stories
    PS may still come back for other fill in info.
    Best Regards
    Barry

    Reply
    • Hi Barry,

      Thank you so much! Glad we could be of help and that our blog is an inspiration and provides you with useful information when planning your Japan trip.

      Hmm, very strange that all hotels in Japan are full! I think that it is actually too early to book hotels now. That they have not opened up for booking for October 2017 yet, that`s why you get “not available”. On TripAdvisor.com this it the case at least, I can`t find any hotels for October 2017 because it is too early (the dates for October 2017 are all greyed out). So you should try again later, maybe after New Year. I`m sure you will find some hotels in Japan later on.

      Don`t hesitate to ask us any further questions. Happy travels!

      Best regards,
      Maria

      Reply
  26. Matsumoto to Shinano-Omachi makes sense to me, but how to I get back from your end spot back to Matsumoto. My issue is that my husband and I have two large check bags and I wanted to do this leg of the trip but I also wanted to start my day early. How did you guys fit the hotel check in with this leg of the trip?

    Reply
  27. Maria,

    Thank you so much for posting, I love your articles ๐Ÿ™‚ They inspire me! I’ve traveled a lot over the years and your writing keeps me going, its so nice to read about your adventures. I’ve been researching the Tateyama-Kurobe alpine pass for days now and this is the most helpful information that I have come across! You have answered all my questions and more. Can’t wait to breath that mountain air!

    All the best!

    Safe and happy travels ๐Ÿ™‚

    Amanda

    Reply
    • Hi Amanda,

      Thank you so much for your nice comment! It made my day!

      Lucky you who are going on the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route! It is such a lovely trip, you will love it.

      Have an amazing trip in the alps!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  28. Lovely! We are planning to do this tomorrow from Kanazawa.. where did u go for the hot spring though? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • Hi Vidya,

      Wow, cool that you are doing the Alpine Route tomorrow! Hope you get nice weather! The full route doesn`t open until 15th of April, only the partial route is open now (10. – 14. April): http://www.alpen-route.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/route.jpg

      The hot spring, which is Japans highest hot spring at 2450 m, is located at the Mukurigaike Inn, next to the Mikurigaike Pound. This is a nice walk from the Murodo stop which is the highest stop on the Alpine Route. This part of the route opens 15th of April, so you will not be able to reach this tomorrow, unfortunately.

      Have a nice time on the Alpine Route!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  29. We did the Alpine Route yesterday and it was amazing,
    So glad we did it. Your itinary was so accurate. Thank you. Amazing views. You think you had just seen the best one and you go up a bit higher and it gets better and better. Our weather was completely different, bright blue skies all day but so much snow. Still lots to see and experience.

    Reply
    • Hi Rachel,

      Wow, sounds like you had the best weather and a great trip! So happy to hear that you found our description and tips on the Alpine Route useful!

      Thank you so much for commenting back and telling us about your trip! Really appreciate it!

      Cheers!
      -Maria-

      Reply
    • Thank you sooooo much, Meeta! Really happy to hear that our article could be of help to you when planning your Alpine Route trip!

      Thanks for commenting! Have an amazing Alpine Route trip (if you have not been yet)!!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  30. Hi Maria,
    So glad I came across your website.
    Finally found an itinenary of the places we wanted to visit in October.
    The Japan Alps…that would be an adventure for us!
    We’re in our 50s and 60s. I think we’ll do some hiking training before we go.
    My hubby thought I was crazy when I said 9 hours trip.
    Then he was excited when I said not hiking for 9 hours. Hiking just to observation decks and to the Pond… rest is bus, cable cars, etc… Something different.

    Reply
    • Hi Chris,

      So cool that you are going to Japan and have found some inspiration from our itinerary! The Alpine Route is an amazing trip, and the good thing is that everyone can do it! It is as you say not much walking involved unless you really want to. Bring some warm wind-proof clothes as it can be a bit chilly up in the mountains. A beanie, scarf, and gloves can be nice too, especially in October.

      Have a great trip to Japan, and enjoy the Alpine Route! I`m sure you will love it! The autumn colors are beautiful in October.

      -Maria-

      Reply
  31. I love the Nomad Nerds and their info. I have been following in your footsteps all through Japan and so many of your comments inspired my destinations. I need more than time in the amazing country. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Gillian!

      Wooooow, thank you for your awesome comment! It really made my day! ๐Ÿ™‚

      So cool that we could inspire you to visit these places in Japan! Japan is as you say an amazing country! Hope to be back one day.

      Thanks again for commenting! Happy travels!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  32. Hi Maria, I’m going to Japan in a few weeks and am really looking forward to the Alpine route. I was wondering how tough the walk was. My boyfriend has breathing issues so we can’t do any hikes that are steep or involve a lot of stairs. Do you have any recommendations for us? Best wishes and thanks for sharing your experiences!

    Reply
    • Hi Liz,

      The Alpine route is very easy and does not involve much walking or climbing. You basically take different sorts of transport up and down the mountain; cable car, trains, trams, bus and so on. So I think your boyfriend will be able to do this route just fine. We did some walking because we wanted to, but it is not mandatory.

      You can turn around any time and just go back down again if it gets too much for your boyfriend.

      Have a great trip to Japan and enjoy the Alpine route!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  33. Hi Maria, this route sounds like an adventure! Do you have any recommendations on how to do this route or a similar experience in the region to see the mountains by car and/or longer hike?

    Reply
    • Hi Mia,

      Thank you! The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is amazing!

      Hmmm, sorry I don`t have any tips on similar experiences in this region by car or hikes. But you can do short or long hikes in the mountains along this route, there are some cabins/ alpine hotels along this route that you can walk to and spend the night. Here are some of the trekking courses you can do: http://www.alpen-route.com/en/courses/suggested.html

      Have a great hiking trip in the Japanese Alps!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  34. Hi Maria, we did this yesterday! It was raining and very very cloudy but Kurobe was sunny!! We spent time at the Onsen which was great and highly recommended. We planned our trip a few months ago and followed many of your suggestions (e.g. Tokyo, Matsumoto, Nikko and soon Kyoto) which have been fantastically helpful. On the Alpine route we would have liked to have seen the waterfall but simply ran out of time. A piece of advice to anyone doing this journey is to keep a close eye on timetables. I don’t think it is possible to see / do everything in the guide that it provided so pick what you want to do. Overall a long but fantastic day. Alan & Jane

    Reply
    • Hi Alan,

      Wow, awesome!! Sounds like you had a great day! We did not have time to take Onsen, unfortunately, sounds lovely! Will consider staying at the ryokan if we do this alpine round trip again. Have a great time in Kyoto!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  35. Yes my concern is too if there are any delays re picking up bags but if can be dropped ay a hotel that eases my worry. Also wanted to thank you for writing such informative replys to everyone.

    Reply
  36. Thanks Maria for this very helpful and detailed narrative of your trip to the Alpine Route. This gives me great ideas as I plan a visit to this place soon!

    Reply
    • Hi Arnel,

      Thank you so much! So glad to hear that our article about the Alpine Route could be of inspiration and help to you! This part of Japan is breathtaking and doing this Alpine Route was my favorite part of our Japan trip. You have something to look forward to! Iยดm sure you will love it too!

      Have a great trip to Japan!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  37. Hi maria, how many JR pass(s) did you buy? I mean, can two travelers use the same pass or we should purchase two passes ?

    Many thanks on your amazing work ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • Hi Bassil,

      Thank you so much! You must buy one JR Pass per person. The pass is personal and only one person can use it. So we had two passes. ๐Ÿ™‚

      -Maria-

      Reply
  38. I just wanted to say thank you for your post on the Alpine route. I just finished it a couple of days ago and all of your comments are spot on. If you follow it exactly the way you described you will have an awesome time! Canโ€™t say thank you enough for your post.

    Reply
    • Hi Paul,

      Wow, thank you soooo much for your comment! Your nice words really made my day! ๐Ÿ™‚ Appreciate it! You are awesome! ๐Ÿ™‚

      All the best,
      Maria

      Reply
  39. Wow wow wow
    It just sound amazing and I can’t wait to do it on my upcoming trip next month, not cheap though ๐Ÿ™
    But what happen to the ice wall? See no photo of you posting it. Thought that part is the star of the whole trip.

    Reply
    • Hi Brad,
      Lucky you who are doing the Alpine Route next month! It is a fantastic trip with amazing views!

      We did this route in July, and the snow and ice wall had melted. The Alpine Route is closed during winter, between 1st of December and mid-April. The ice/ snow wall is only there when the route opens in mid-April. Then it melts during April/ May and is completely gone in June. So I`m afraid that you will not see the ice/snow wall in November either.

      Have a great trip to Japan and enjoy the Alpine Route!!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  40. Just wanted to thank you for your very detailed and helpful blog. We recently did the Alpine Route and found it was our favourite part of our trip to Japan. It is definitely not well advertised because most of the foreign tourists (and even some locals) we met hadn’t heard about it so we were glad to stumble upon your blog.

    Reply
    • Hi Robyn,

      Thank you so much! Wow, so happy to hear that you enjoyed the Alpine Route and that you found our blog useful! It is one of my absolute favorite things to do in Japan too! We plan on doing the Alpine Route again in October/ November, looking forward to seeing the beautiful landscape in autumn colors.

      Thanks for commenting! Really appreciate it!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  41. Hi Maria,

    I tried to book myself the Alpine Tour for the 6th of November. I was told that starting 4th November they do not do full tour from Omachi to Tateyama. Also the luggage delivery service stops on the 4th of November.

    I just wanted to know if this is the only official agents that do this trip or can I book it from somewhere else too? Your help will be appreciated

    Reply
    • Hi Sachin,

      The full Alpine Route is open until the 30th of November.

      Baggage Forwarding Service

      You are right, the Baggage Forwarding Service seems to be closing earlier than the Alpine Route.

      The Baggage Forwarding Service where you hand in your bags by yourself at the baggage forwarding service center at Shinano-Omachi Station (we did this) is only open until the 10th of November. No reservation is required. Drop-off time is between 08:00 and 11:10. At the end of the Alpine Route, you can pick up your bags at Toyama Station between 15:30 and 18:00.

      The Baggage Forwarding Service where they pick up bags at hotels in Tateyama and Midagahara, plus from Toyama Station to Nagano Station is only available until the 4th of November.

      This is what is written at the official website of the Alpine Route:

      Service available: April 15th โ€“ November 10th.
      Hotel Tateyama & Midagahara Hotel: April 29th โ€“ November 4th.
      Dentetsu Toyama๏ผNagano Station: April 15th โ€“ November 4th.(4/15-11/4)

      Where To Book Alpine Route Tickets Online

      The only place you can reserve Alpine Route tickets is at the official Alpine Route Webpage. But there are several tour agents that arrange tours where the Alpine Route is included (see a list further down).

      I see that for November 2019 (the last square at the bottom of this page labeled โ€œ2019/ 11โ€) almost all dates are yellow. This means that you can only reserve tickets from Ogizawa and board the Alpine Route in Ogizawa on the east side of the Alpine Route. So you can only do the Alpine Route from the east (starting in Ogizawa) to the west (ending in Tateyama). And not the other way around, from Tateyama (west) to Ogizawa (east).

      We did the Alpine Route from east to west (from Ogizawa to Tateyama) and it was great!

      I see that there are lots of tickets available for the 6th of November, the date you want to do the Alpine Route, all departing times on this date are available.

      So you must get to Shinano-Omachi Station (for instance by train from Tokyo to Matsumoto, and then from Matsumoto to Shinano-Omachi). At Shinano-Omachi Station you drop off your bags at the Baggage Forwarding Service Office and buy a bus ticket to Ogizawa (which is not included in the Alpine Route Ticket). This bus ride takes about 40 min.

      In Ogizawa the Alpine Route starts. Here you exchange your web ticket reservation into an actual ticket at the ticket office. Or you can buy the tickets there directly (we bought ours there and did not make a web reservation).

      So you must do the Alpine Route from East to West:
      Shinano-Omachi Station (hand in your bags) – Ogizawa (the official start of the Alpine Route) – Tateyama (the official end of the Alpine Route) – Toyama (pick up your bags)

      Alpine Route Tours

      Several travel agents arrange and sell tours where the Alpine Route is included. Then you donโ€™t have to worry about transportations or tickets as it is all included in the tour:

      Voyagin:
      2-Days Tateyama Alpine Route + Takayama + Shirakawa-go village – Bus tour starts and ends in Tokyo

      Viator:
      Day tour Alpine Route with an English-speaking guide
      2-Days Tateyama Alpine Route + Takayama + Shirakawa-go village – Bus tour, round-trip from Tokyo
      2-Days Tateyama Alpine Route + Kamikochi + Shirakawa-go – By express train and bus, round-trip from Tokyo
      Day tour from Nagano: Snow wall of Alpine Route – Only available in May and June

      Have a great Alpine Route trip! I’m sure it will work out fine with getting tickets. November is not the peak season of the Alpine Route.

      -Maria-

      Reply
  42. Hello Maria,

    We would like to do this for 2 days, where do you suggest we stay overnight. The reason we want to do this for 2 days is to enjoy it at a slower pace and do some more walking / hiking. We will probably start this from the same place as you did. We will also visit the Shirakawa-go village after this one (can be done on the 3rd day) Also, can we pick up our bags the next day or do they have to be picked up on the same day?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Mehmet,

      You could, for instance, stay right in the middle of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, in the alps. There are two nice hotels along the route:

      Midagahara Hotel
      Hotel Tateyama

      Or you can stay close to where the Alpine Route starts on the east side, close to the JR Shinano-Omachi Station. Staying close to the JR Shinano-Omachi Station will make it easy and convenient when doing the Alpine Route over 2 days. Why not try a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in this area? Here are a few nice hotels/ ryokans close to the start of the Alpine Route (east side):

      Hotel Yume-no-yu (12-min drive from JR Shinano-Omachi Station)
      Kurobe View Hotel (20-min bus trip from JR Shinano-Omachi Station)
      Hotel Keisui (15-min drive from JR Shinano-Omachi Station)

      You can ask the hotel to help you with baggage forwarding to your next hotel.

      Have a fantastic time doing the Alpine Route! Good idea to do it over 2 days, much more relaxed and you can do more hiking and see more of the stunning landscape. We plan on doing that too on our Japan trip next month.

      -Maria-

      Reply
  43. Thank you for taking the effort to put this together – my friends and I followed this every step of the way! ๐Ÿ™‚

    The only one change (positive one!) when we went in October 2019, was that you can now pick up your luggage at Toyoma station till upto 8pm ๐Ÿ™‚ Thats a couple of extra hours you can spend walking around the fantastic trails that this route has to offer!

    Reply
    • Hi Ashwin,

      Thank you so much!! Awesome to hear that you and your friends follow my guide to the Alpine Route! ????โค๏ธ

      Thanks for the info on the pick-up luggage office at Toyama Station, that it has extended its opening hours and is now open until 8 pm. That is great! It was a bit stressful for us having to reach it by 6 pm. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will update my guide.

      Thanks for commenting! Really appreciate it!

      All the best,
      Maria

      Reply
  44. Maria, we owe you many thanks.
    Discovered your blog while preparing our trip to Japan. We didn’t have much time and we don’t like to rush so it was easy to decide to leave places out.
    After reading what you wrote about the Alpine route and Kanazawa we included them in the plan. It was October, the leaves were changing colors,we got the brightest day possible. No snow of course but we got to see the alpine garden in Daikanbo, with a collection of Alpine plants. Walking on Mount Murodo was lovely, though the smell of sulfur from all the gas was very strong.

    Luggage wise we sent the stuff from Tokyo to our Kanazawa hotel, so in Matsumoto we had only a light overnight bag, and we didn’t have to bother with the sending-receiving part during the day.
    Thanks again

    Reply
    • Hi Michal,

      Thank you soooo much!!! I love getting feedback from our readers, it means a lot!

      It sounds like have a fantastic trip on the Alpine Route!! We are actually on our way to Japan right now, will get to Tokyo tomorrow. Unfortunately, I don’t think we have time to do the Alpine Route on this trip as the route closes on the 30th of November. But next time….

      Thanks for commenting! Really appreciate it!

      -Maria-

      Reply

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