Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, one of most spectacular sightseeing route in Northern Japan Alps

Chubu Area
Famous snow wall is almost same height as 10 stories building. (C) Jonathan Ayre

Famous snow wall is almost same height as 10 stories building. (C) Jonathan Ayre

This post is written by Mr. Jonathan Ayre. He is one of the frequent visitors. He offered me some images, writing articles such as Managing baggage during trip, Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine. I would like to thank you again, Jonathan for sharing your experience.


The Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route is one of Japan’s famous sightseeing routes. It passes through the Japanese Alps to a height of 2450m above sea level, and often snows well into May and begins to snow in October. The Alpine Route includes famous places such as Kurobe Dam, Japan’s highest dam and Murodo, featuring the famous 20m high snow walls. There are also opportunities to experience natural surrounds, go skiing, and stay at resorts high in the mountains.

The Alpine Route only operates from mid-April to the end of November. Conditions are cold in spring and autumn and cool in summer. The area around Murodo is one of the the snowiest in Japan, and Kurobe Dam is equally spectacular in summer and autumn. As a destination, it is a great place to travel either through from Matsumoto to Toyama, or as a round trip from either city.

Orientation of Alpine Route

View Alpine Route in a larger map

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route official website

The Alpine Route runs from Toyama Station, in Toyama Prefecture, through to Shinano-Omachi Station in Omachi, Nagano Prefecture, on the JR Oito Line. The route consists of eight individual transport components, and a 15 minute walk. The cost for a full one-way trip is just over 10,500 yen and can take anywhere from 6 to 9 hours, depending on your pace and how busy each transport mode is. You can do the Alpine Route from either direction or even loop from one side to the major points and back to the starting point again.

Unfortunately, the entire route is private and no section is covered by the Japan Rail Pass. The most convenient ticket is a combination ticket that saves a bit, and is valid from Toyama all the way through to Ogizawa (second last station), and gives you your cablecar reservation. If coming from Shinano-Omachi you need to take the bus to Ogizawa, where you can buy your combination ticket to Toyama.

There is a convenient baggage forwarding service if you are travelling in one direction, allowing you to drop your bags at Dentetsu-Toyama Station (the private line station) or select hotels in Toyama City, and pick them up at a kiosk attached to Shinano-Omachi Station at the other end. From Matsumoto, you will have to bring your bags to the same kiosk at Shinano-Omachi Station to get them transported to Toyama. The service is very affordable and the staff are happy to help with your luggage. (link for baggage forwarding)

Toyama Chiho Railway

Toyama Chiho Railway Tateyama line goes along Jouganji river near Tateyama station. (C) Jonathan Ayre

Toyama Chiho Railway is a private railway company in Toyama. JR Pass do not cover this train service.

From Toyama, you start by taking the private Toyama Chiho Tateyama Line (staff are happy to direct you) from Toyama to Tateyama Station (about one hour). The trains are generally local but there is the occasional rapid service. From Tateyama, head upstairs to the gates for the cable car. If you don’t have a combination ticket you will need to purchase a ticket for the cablecar. Tickets are reserved for a time so be sure not to miss it. The cablecar will take you to Bijoudira Station, and takes about 10 minutes.

Tateyama Cablecar and Highland Bus

Tateyama Cablecar at Tateyama station (C) Jonathan Ayre

When you arrive at Bijoudaira, you will have to change to a bus. The buses are relatively frequent, but often busy, and depart when filled. If it is busy, you may have to wait, but it will give you an opportunity to stretch your legs outside, and a good chance to relax if you are taking it slow. The bus from Bijoudaira to Murodo takes just under an hour, and if you’re in the right season, will drive straight through the famous snow walls, and pass through 1500m of elevation and a pleasant forest view along the way. When you arrive at Murodo, you have the chance to walk a small section of the snow walls yourself, and experience being surrounded by up to twenty metres of snow! Murodo is also the highest point of the Alpine Route, at about 2450m.

Tateyama Trolleybus, Tateyama Ropeway and Kurobe Cablecar

View from Tateyama Trolleybus (C) Jonathan Ayre

In summer season, it is packed at Daikanbo station. (C) Jonathan Ayre

From Murodo, you walk into the mountain for the Tateyama Trolleybus, one of only two trolleybuses left in Japan. This electrified bus runs entirely inside Mount Tateyama through to Daikanbo Station, gateway to Kurobe Dam, in only 15 minutes. Exiting the trolleybus, you can change soon after to the Tateyama Ropeway to descend to the dam. Daikanbo Station is only small, and consists of only a waiting room and souvenir shop.

View from Tateyama Ropeway (C) Jonathan Ayre

The ropeway is unique in not having a support tower in the middle, making for a panoramic experience as you descend almost 500m to Kurobedaira Station in only 7 minutes. Once you arrive at Kurobedaira Station, you change again to the Kurobe Cablecar, Japan’s only all underground cablecar, for another 400m descent to arrive finally at Kurobe Dam.

Kurobe Dam

Kurobe Dam is sometimes called Kuroyon Dam. Means Kuro(=Kurobe) yon (=4) because it is Kurobe River No.4 hydro powerplant.

Breathtaking valley view from Kurobe Dam. (C) Jonathan Ayre

Kurobe Dam is another scenic spot on the Alpine Route. Japan’s highest dam at an elevation of 1500m, the damn walk reveals an amazing construction looking down over the river and valley and is famous for its autumn colours. A 15-minute walk across the dam leads to a rest house, access to an observatory, and a lower deck walk on the mountainside near the dam, as well as access to the Kanden Trolleybus for the descent to Ogizawa Station. With less frequent departures of the trolleybus, Kurobe Dam is the perfect place to enjoy a meal and take a walk around this amazing combination of nature and engineering.

Ogizawa to Shinano-Omachi and Matsumoto

After the 15 minute trip to Ogizawa, there is only one more change before arriving at Shinano-Omachi Station on the JR Oito Line. Exiting the trolleybus, simply go downstairs and exit to find the bus platform for the bus to Shinano-Omachi (some buses go to Nagano, too). Here is where the combination ticket ends, so you’ll have to get a new ticket (1,480 yen) from Ogizawa to Shinano-Omachi Station. The final trip takes 40 minutes, and at Shinano-Omachi Station you can get frequent connections to Matsumoto and Tokyo, or less frequent connections to Minami-Otari and Itoigawa.


  1. Nicole Tan says:

    Dear Sir,
    We intend to visit Tateyama Alpine Route on the 18th of October 2017. We are 4 ladies traveling with our luggages from Higashi-shinjuku (taking the Shinkansen kagayaki 501, 6:42am) to Nagano. Will reach Nagano 07:38. From there, we will take the Alpico bus from Nagano east exit to shinano-omachi. We will drop our luggages there and proceed with our one-way alpine route tour. Questions:-
    1. Can we do the tour the opposite direction? Coz as per Jonathan’s sharing, his was from Toyama chiho railway to ogizawa. As for us, we will be from shinano omachi to Toyama.
    2. Dropping our bags in shinano-omachi, looking at the baggage drop information provided by official site, we will pick up our luggages in Tateyama station? Since our luggages are big, will that pose difficulties for us to carry our luggages to toyama Station? (We will be going to Kanazawa for a night stay)..
    3. Alternatively, we can go to the alpine route on the 22nd October (which is a Sunday, and we will be in takayama by then). We can do the tour as per Jonathan’s suggestion. But will it be crowded? Sunday verses Wednesday? Starting point toyama verses shinano omachi? For your info, we will be flying off back home on the 22nd. Flight is at 11:30pm.
    Kindly give me your precious advice. Really appreciate. Thanks a lot in advance..


    • Hi Nicole,

      Of course you can do opposite way from Nagano to Toyama.
      And also you can ship your luggage to Dentetsu Toyama station which is same place as Toyama station.

      And also you can ship your luggage from Shinjuku station to your hotel in Toyama or any places by the service in the link below. If you use this service, it’s much easier. And you don’t need to drop by Shinano-Omachi and can go to Ogizawa directly from Nagano:

      Direct luggage delivery to hotel is very popular in Japan.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • Nicole Tan says:

        Dear Takeshi,

        How do we go go Ozigawa directly from Nagano? I’ve checked the bus schedule. We have to take the bus from shinano omachi. Kindly advice.

        Another alternative for us is to visit Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route on the 22nd October, which is a Sunday. In your opinion, will it be crowded on weekend as compared to weekday (planned to visit on 18th from Tokyo). I’ve checked with the baggage drop service. Thank you for providing this valuable advice.

        If we visit on 22nd (Sunday), the baggage company can’t do baggage drop from our ryokan in takayama to Haneda (flight is at 11:30pm on Sunday). Any advice on this?

  2. dian says:

    Hallo Takeshi san, I already purchase tokyo wide pass but I really want visit tantrums kurobe alphine route? Do you have any suggestion the way to get there which is covered Tokyo Wide Pass?

    • Hi Dian san,

      You have to pay lots of extra fare becaue it’s not in coverage area.
      Saku-Daira to Toyama (around 9,000 yen)
      Tateyama Kurone option ticket (9,000 yen)
      Nagano to Saku-Daira (around 3,500 yen)

      There is no other ways to do this trip by these extra fares.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Suraj says:

    Hello Takeshi,

    I am planning a close to 2 1/2 weeks trip and below is my plan , was hoping if you could provide some guidance in terms of the passes that I could use .

    10th May Osaka – 9:30am KIX
    11th May Osaka
    12th May Osaka – Nara
    13th May Osaka – Himeji – Kyoto
    14th May Kyoto
    15th May Kyoto
    16th May Kyoto
    17th May Kyoto
    18th May Kyoto-Takayama
    19th May Takayama
    20th May Takayama-Shirakawa
    21st May Takayama-Kamikochi
    22nd May Takayama-Tomaya
    23rd May Tomaya – Alpine Route – Matsumoto
    24th May Matsumoto – Tokyo
    25th May Tokyo
    26th May Tokyo – Hakone
    27th May Tokyo
    28th May Tokyo – SG

    Thanks for your help

  4. Irene says:

    Konnichiwa Takeshi-san,

    I am planning to go buy the Tateyama Kurobe Option Ticket (one way) ¥9,000 and plan to use on 25 Apr (Tue) for just the entire day from Nagano to Toyama. I also have a JR pass nationwide ticket for 7 days. I have some questions on the following, could you please assist me?
    1. Do I need to to the luggage forwarding service from Nagano station to Dentetsu Toyama for cabin small luggage? If so, does it cater to send my luggage to my hotel in Toyama (Hotel Prime Toyoma) or just pick up in the Dentetsu Toyama station cause I see the Dentetsu toyama station pick up is until 6pm only I’m worried I will miss it?
    2. I see the the Alpine route has several transportations, do I need to do the reservation beforehand? If so, can it be done thru online?

    Thank you in advance. 🙂

    • Hi Irene san,

      1. You don’t need to use baggage forwarding service but recommended. You need to transfer many transportation. And all trips will be crowded. The baggage may bother you. If you have a backpack, it will be okay. But cabin size case is not recommended.
      Baggage is delivered to Dentetsu Toyama only. You have to be there by 18:00.

      2. Reservation is available for regular ticket passengers only. You cannot book but you may need to wait.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • Irene says:

        Thank you Takeshi-san for your prompt response. It is highly appreciated. Just few more questions please. 🙂
        1. 1 day tour at the alpine kurobe route is possible even for the busiest day right? Cause my planned date on 25 Apr is considered one of the the busiest.
        2. Do you have the link or itinerary that I can browse for the famous attractions to lookout for so I will not miss the important scenery or spots that ‘must see’ in Kurobe Alpine route due to my limited time. I’m just aware of the snow wall is one of the famous sight.
        Thank you again Takeshi-san for being so helpful.:-)

  5. Chua sl says:

    hello Takeshi / JPRail,

    I am planning to visit on 1st june, a day trip from Tokyo. I am worried I will miss the last train from Nagno to Ueno. I tried to check the bus time table from Ogizawa to Nagno but couldn’t find any.

    Would greatly appreciate if you could guide me to return to the city. If I really missed the last train, will getting a place to stay easy?

    Hopefully i will be able to view the tall tall snow wall.

    Thank you


  6. Nancy says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    I intend to buy the Kurobe Option Ticket travelling from Toyama to Nagano.

    1. The validity of 5 consecutive days starts from date of purchase or date of usage?

    2. On the official website, it says for the Option Ticket, a separate limited express charge of 210 yen is locally required when using a limited express train on the Toyama Chiho Railway (between Tateyama and Dentetsu-Toyama Stations). What does it mean?

    How much do I need to pay for the Toyama Chiho Railway from Dentetsu-Toyama to Tateyama? The normal train fare is 1200 yen.

    3. What time does the train ticket counter opens daily for the above Toyama Chiho Railway train ticket?

    Many thanks to u! Best regards.

    • Hi Nancy san,

      1. It’s valid from date of usage.

      2. There are local train and express train. If you take a local train, it’s covered but if you take express train, you need to pay surcharge.
      Please see the link below to find more info about express trains:

      3. The station window is open around 5:30 am and until around 22:00. But as long as you take a local train, it’s covered and not required to buy a ticket.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Lina says:

    Hi Takeshi san.

    We are planning to go to Alpine route on June 21. We’ll be starting off from Nagoya. Our plan trip is Nagoya – Takayama – Toyama overnight on June 20, leave all luggage in hotel and then taking the whole Alpine route tour from Toyama to Kurobe dam around 9 AM on June 21.

    Since we’ll be taking elderlies in this trip, we are planning to go back to Toyama again after the whole Alpine tour. Is this possible? I keep reading that the Alpine Tateyama Kurobe ticket is a one way ticket. Does it mean once we finish the tour, we can’t go back to Toyama?

    We decide not to continue on to Nagano since we reckon it would be such hassle to transport the luggage back and forth with us taking elderlies. From Toyama we’ll be heading straight to Tokyo for 4 nights.

    Kindly advice what ticket we should get? Can we purchase them online in advance? I was told June isn’t too crowded, and that online reservation wouldn’t be necessary

    Since our trip will start off at Osaka, ending Tokyo (total 10nights), we wonder if we should be getting JR Pass to cover the whole trip economically?

    Also, is it sufficient to start Alpine tour at 9 AM to return back to Toyama? Will the ice wall still be worth visiting since I read in Alpine site the period would be Apr 15-June 22?

    Thank you and looking forward for your reply!

    • Hi Lina san,

      You can go back to Toyama from Kurobe dam but in this case you have to pay regular fare. You cannot use Tateyama Kurobe option ticket. Please see the link below to find the regular fare.

      You can purchase regular ticket online. It’s not required but recommended because you can save your time there.

      You may be able to see Ice Wall. But I don’t think it will be such a high wall.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • Lina says:

        Dear Takeshi san,

        Thank U for your prompt reply. I’m little bit confused with the ticket pricing So, we can take a one way trip from Kurobe dam back to Toyama? Using the price guide you gave me, which price would I expect to pay? I read ‘Walk’ in intersection colum of Dentetsu Toyama and Kurobe dam

        Is it possible to get Alpine route option ticket but I just get off in Kurobe dam and buy another one way ticket to Toyama? Is the trip not covered by JR Pass?

        Also, I’ve been trying to reserve the ticket online to no avail. Have you any other websites I can use to reserve the ticket? When we make the reservation, must we specify the time too?

        With my earlier question, what you think about leaving Toyama for Alpine route @ 9 AM? Is it sufficient? Have you any idea the latest train from Kurobe dam to Toyama?

        Thanx again

        • Hi Lina san,

          You may use Dentetsu Toyama / Kurobeko fare. Round trip fare is 13190, so you don’t need to buy 2 X Option ticket. It’s more expensive.

          The following site is only available to book online but it’s not open yet, I think.

          9:00 am is okay in my opinion. Try to use the link below to make a schedule.


          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          • Lina says:

            Dear Takeshi san,

            I am sorry I’ve only been able to respond to your email today. Thanks again for your info. Considering the time effciency, I think we will be taking a one way route from Toyama – Alpine Route – Nagano. If we took this route, can we purchase the Tateyama Kurobe Option Ticket?

            In the website, it’s written as 9000 yen/adult with a regular fare of 12090 yen. Does it mean we need to book the ticket in advance.? As for the web reservation, you’re right it’s not open yet. So, I’ll give it ago on April 15 I guess.

            Can you kindly inform also whether this option ticket can be used all the way through Nagano? From what I see in illustration, there is an express bus from Ogizawa to Nagano. Is this part of the option ticket?

            Kindly inform also what will be the right attire around June? considering it’s summer season.

            Thanks and have a good weekend

            • Hi Lisa san,

              If you use Tateyama Kurobe option ticket, you don’t need to boo. Just purchase it at the designated station. You can buy it on trip date but the window may be crowded and waste your time. I recommend you to buy it in advance.

              It includes express bus to Nagano. You can ride it by this ticket.

              Regarding clothing, please see the link below:


              Takeshi / JPRail.com

              • Lina says:

                Dear Takeshi san,

                Now that the Alpine route’s ticketing has already opened, I have been able to access the web reservation website. However, I am quite puzzled with the ticket sold in the web. The one that is in website is for Tateyama to Ogizawa, which is priced at Y 8,290 (adult) and Y 4150 (child)

                However, in your previous email you mentioned about Tateyama Kurobe Option ticket, with a special price for Tateyama to Nagano station of Y 9000

                I click on http://www.jrtateyama.com/e/ to try to reserve it online. However, I can’t seem to find the web reservation button. How to actually purchase this special ticket in advance, since I’ll be traveling in June?

                Can Tateyama Kurobe Option ticket be bought separately or must be bought in conjunction with other ticket?

                Kindly advice… I really wish to have the tickets all settled down before going.

                Thank you and looking forward for your reply



                • Hi Lina,

                  Tateyama Kurobe option ticket is sold in Japan only. You cannot purchase it online. If you use this ticket, you cannot reserve a space for transportation on Alpine route. The space is available for first come first basis. If you really want to arrange in advance and secure your space, you need to use regular ticket and book it online.


                  Takeshi / JPRail.com

                  • Lina says:

                    Dear Takeshi san

                    Thank You for your prompt reply.

                    Just to clarify, the tateyama kurobe option ticket can only be bought in Japan in the designated station, such as Kyoto, Osaka, and Toyama and they can’t be reserved online?

                    Is this ticket still purchasable even though I don’t have a JR 7 day pass? I understand there’s a 5 day validity period, Is the validity calculated from purchase date or upon activation?

                    Can they be activated anywhere? Eg: If I bought in Osaka, and then activate in Toyama. Is this fine?

                    Thank you and looking forward for your reply.

                    • Hi Lina san,

                      You can purchase it at the designated station and not online as you think. You can buy at any stations and you can start using at Dentetsu-Toyama. You don’t need to have JR Pass or/and any other deals. You can purchase this pass only. Number of dates will be calculation from when you start using.


                      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Mandy Evans says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,
    My family and I are thinking of travelling the Alpine route on the 7th June. We would train from Tokyo to Shinano-Omachi via Matsumoto, spending the night at Shinano-Omachi before travelling the route. We would then have a night in either Toyama or Kanazawa. My question: Is there any disadvantage in travelling the route in this direction? Is there an advantage in travelling from Toyama to Shinano-Omachi?
    Many thanks,

  9. Lee says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    I am planning a trip to the Tateyama alpine route in 2017 and trying to figure out the best time to go. I understand the Kurobe Dam starts to release water in the last week of June, so my questions are:

    1. Is there any ice wall left at Murodo to view by that time? I am hoping to see both the walls and the release of water at the Dam in one trip. Would you recommend going during this period?
    2. Otherwise, is it better to go in mid May instead? Would the difference in the height of the walls be very significant between the 2 periods?

  10. Tim says:


    First off, so many great answers to all of these questions, thank-you for your service.! We will be staying in Ōmachi, but will have a car. Our ideal plan will be to drive to Ogizawa, and take the route to Murodo, and then return. Here are my questions;
    1. Our plan is to travel on 18 October. Should I try to make some kind of reservations, or just show up at the Ogizawa trolley bus station?
    2. Do you believe the crowds will be heavy on a weekday at this time?
    3. What is the approximate travel time needed (not including our time spent at each stop)?
    4. What would be your recommendation for departure time from Ogizawa?
    5. What is the latest departure time heading back from Murodo heading back to Ogizawa?
    6. What is your favorite spot to visit along this route?
    7. What is your favorite thing to eat (and where) along the route

    Thanks so much. We are really looking forward to our visit!!

    Kindest Regards,


Copied title and URL