Trip report of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route from Toyama to Nagano

At Kurobe dam

I visited on Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route from Toyama to Nagano in this past summer. It was not a perfect day to travel there. The weather was so wet and very chilly. Actually Hokuriku region had received the record breaking rainfall at that time. I could not see any mountain. However I would like to share my experience and show many photos of this mountain trip. It shows you the station layout and scenery. I am sure that it will help you to build your trip plan to Alpine Route.

Dentetsu Toyama station to Tateyama station by Toyama Chiho Railway

Dentetsu Toyama 05:29 (Rapid train) 06:19 Tateyama

I wanted to complete the trip by early afternoon. I started the trip very early morning. First of all, I took Toyama Chiho Railway train from Dentetsu Toyama station. The station was very quiet.

Toyama Chiho Railway’s Toyama station is called “Dentetsu Toyama”. It is located next to JR Toyama station. It is very easy to change trains from/to JR trains. Please see the link below to find more information about Toyama station.

Toyama station guide. How to change between Hokuriku Shinkansen, other local trains and Toyama Chiho Railway.

I took the rapid train of Toyama Chiho Railway. The train was one of this railway’s common fleet.

The fleet was old but the seat was not bad.

It was raining a bit and very cloudy. I could not see most of mountains on the way to Tateyama.

Water level was so high in the river because of heavy rain.

Tateyama station to Bijodaira station by Tateyama Cable Car

Train arrived at Tateyama station

Tateyama 07:00 (cable car) 07:07 Bijodaira

Tateyama station building

After arriving at Tateyama station, I went up the second floor and proceeded to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route ticket window. Toyama Chiho Railway’s platform is located under the building.

Tateyama station overview

The ticket window is located outside the building. When you arrive at Tateyama station by train, you will be navigated by lots of staffs. All you have to do is just following their assistance. You will not lose your way. You can get the ticket window easily.

Exit the train platform
Go up to the station building
Access to the other side of building
You will find the ticket window.

You have to get a ticket at this window. You will know the departure time of cable car. I was assigned to the first cable car.

If you use Tateyama Kurobe option ticket, you can show your ticket at Dentetsu Toyama station to enter. And then you have to exchange here at this window and the actual ticket will be attached on your option ticket.

Only departure time of cablecar is assigned. After you go up to next station, Bijodaira, you can choose any departure. The ticket which is issued at Tateyama station is valid until you get Ogizawa.

There are the gift shop and the restaurant. The restaurant was closed because it was early morning.

The gate was open at 5 minutes before departure time.

The signage at the gate to cable car
The gate of cable car

Cable car is a sort of the incline. The steps are very high and steep.

Cable car went up on the steep slope to next station, Bijodaira.

Bijodaira station to Murodo station

Bijodaira 07:40 (Tateyama Highland Bus) 08:30 Murodo

All stations on Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route have very simple layout. There are lots of signage and the staffs are very well educated. All you have to do is just following the signage to get next transport.

After I got off cable car, I went up by stairs to catch next bus. On this mountain route, there are lots of stairs and we need to change many trains and buses. If you need help, you can ask the station staff any time. They are happy to assist you

I got on the bus from this station to Murodo. I had a plan to drop by Midagahara for short hike. But I gave up because of the rainy weather. I went straight to Mudoro which is the largest station on Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.

When I was at Bijodaira station, there are two lines to wait for the bus. One was for the direct bus to Murodo and other one was for the bus stopping at Midagahara and Tengudaira. Please keep it in your mind if you take a bus from Bijodaira.

Line up to wait for Tateyama Highland Bus at Bijodaira station

On Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, we need to take many trains and buses. Trip time is mostly around 10 minutes for each segment. But the trip time is nearly one hour from Bijodaira to Murodo by Tateyama Highland Bus. If you get motion sickness easily, please take a medicine before you ride. There are lots of curve and some of them are very tight and sharp.

In my opinion, the left side has better view from Bijodaira to Murodo. The bus will slow down the place to see Shomyo falls over the valley.

Shoryu Falls over the valley

Most part of alpine meadow at Midagahara are seen at the left side to Murodo.

Alpine meadow at Midagahara
Midagahara Hotel is one of major hotels on Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.

I skipped Midagahara at this time. But there are lots of hiking route. The easiest one is just walking on the boardwalk mostly. It takes about one hour. It is suitable for any ages and highly recommended. If you worry about motion sickness, this is a nice break too.

By the way, the bus has screen. It shows us the general information in Japanese and English. And the announcement is made in both Japanese and English too. Language barrier is not an issue on this route.

The bus equips several screens.

I was there in the end of June. But I still could see the snow wall before just reaching Murodo.

Snow wall was seen both side of road before reaching Murodo.

Murodo station

Arriving at Murodo

The elevation is 2,450m. This is the highest point on Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. And also this is the biggest station on Alpine Route.

Ticket gate of Tateyama Highland Bus
Ticket gate of Tateyama Tunnel Trolley Bus

I tried to go outside and hike to Mikurigaike but I could not get there. The weather was very stormy.

The stairs to rooftop observation deck on the top of the station
At roof observation deck. It was completely white out.

I had to stay inside the station. At the top floor of the station, it has exhibition of former Oyama shrine.

There is another building next to the station. The nature conservation center is in the building. I spent my time there.

There are Hotel Tateyama in the station building. Only hotel guest can access in the hotel. But the hotel has restaurant. There are another food facilities in the station. I supposed to have brunch after short hike. It was too early and all restaurants were still closed.

Gift shop in the station building
Hotel Tateyama is in Murodo station. Some part of this hotel is open for public.
Hotel Tateyama restaurant. Non hotel guest can use this restaurant.

But this is the best spot to have a lunch time on Alpine Route anyway.

Murodo station to Daikanbo station by Tateyama Tunnel Trolley Bus

Murodo 08:45 (Trolley Bus) 08:55 Daikanbo

After quick stop at Murodo, I got on the trolley bus.

The exterior of Trolley Bus
Interior of Trolley Bus. It is same layout as common city bus.

This bus goes through the tunnel under Mt. Tateyama.

This bus runs in the tunnel only.

This looks a bus but technically it is sort of railway.

Overhead cable above the bus. This is a reason why this bus is a sort of railway.

Murodo station is sometimes called “the train station at the highest point in Japan”.

Daikanbo station to Kurobedaira station by Tateyama Ropeway

Arriving at Diakanbo station

Daikanbo 09:10 (Ropeway) 09:17 Kurobedaira

Daikanbo station is quite small because it is located at the cliff in the middle of the mountain. If you travel in peak period, this station is packed by many numbers of travelers.

Gift shop and small food facility in the station
Line up for Gondola
Ticket gate for Tateyama Tunnel Trolley Bus

You can go up on the roof of this station. There is the viewpoint.

There is another souvenir store on 2nd floor
I could see Lake Kurobe down there.

You can enjoy the scenery of mountains and Lake Kurobe.

I took the gondola to go down. The staff said some travelers saw a bear. I was looking for it but I could not make it.

Kurobedaira station to Kurobeko station by Kurobe Cable Car

Arriving at Kurobedaira station

Kurobedaira 09:30 (Cable car) 09:35 Kurobeko

Kurobedaira has a restaurant and gift shop. It is located in front of Kurobedaira garden. It is very nice spot to take a photo. But when I was there, it was so wet and I could not see it.

Walkway in the station.
There is the observation deck at this station too but I gave up to go up because of weather.

From this station, The cablecar took us to Kurobeko where is located near Kurobe Dam.

Line up for cable car

This cable car is quite different from ordinary incline. It is very interesting because it runs in the tunnel all the way.

Interior of cable car

This cable car runs on very high elevation area. This area receives huge amount of snow in winter time. This tunnel helps to avoid the damage by snow in winter time.

Kurobeko station to Kurobe Dam station by walk

Arriving at Kurobeko station

After arriving Kurobeko station, I walked on Kurobe Dam to Kurobe Dam station. There are lots of station on Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. We can change trains and buses inside the station. But at this point, we need to walk for 10 to 15 minutes.

Go through the tunnel to get Kurobe dam from Kurobeko station
After going through the tunnel, I saw Kurobeko (Lake Kurobe).

When I was there, it was raining and very windy. I finally needed to care about the weather.

I walked on the dam to other side of the lake.

I weared Gore-Tex jacket. But my pants and shoes were very very wet.

My pants and shoes were so wet and uncomfortable!

Even if I would have an umbrella, it might not work because it was so windy. You should have rain wear if you go there in rainy day.

The scenery was amazing. I could see the huge amount of water passing through the dam.

At Kurobe dam

There is a building beside the tunnel to Kurobe Dam station. The dining space, gift shop and small movie theater are located in the building. And another observation deck is located near this building.

I gave up to access this observation deck.

I passed the tunnel to catch another trolley bus to Ogizawa.

Kurobe Dam station to Ogizawa station by Kanden Tunnel Trolley Bus

Ticket gate for Trolley Bus

Kurobe Dam 10:05 (Trolley bus) 10:21 Ogizawa

Trolley bus connects Kurobe Dam and Ogizawa. This bus runs in tunnel on most part of the route. This trolley bus will be replaced by electric bus. Overhead line will be removed.

Exterior of Trolley Bus. Interior is almost same as Tateyama Tunnel Trolley Bus.

Ogizawa station is other side of gateway to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. There are dining facilities and gift shops again.

Bus arrived at Ogizawa terminal.
Inside of Ogizawa terminal

We can access to Ogizawa from Shinano-Omachi and Nagano. I took the express bus to Nagano.

Ogizawa station to Nagano station by Alpico Express Bus

Ogizawa 11:00 (Express bus) 12:45 Nagano

Express bus to Nagano

This express bus is operated by very ordinary highway coach. However it does not have a bathroom even though it is almost 2 hours trip. Please keep it in your mind.

Bus arrived at Nagano station on time.

I wrote about Nagano station in the link below. You can find some more information about bus stop at Nagano station.

Nagano station guide. How to catch the bus to the tourist spots. How to change between Hokuriku Shinkansen and other local trains.

Assessment

As you read, I skipped most of places. I just went through the route because of the rainy day.

I spent 5 hours from Toyama to Ogizawa, and spent 7 hours from Toyama to Nagano. This is minimum trip time. You will spend your time to eat and maybe hiking. You need at least extra 2 hours.

You can start the trip from either Toyama or Ogizawa. Ogizawa can be accessed from either Nagnao or Shinano-Omachi. In my opinion, starting from Toyama is better than Ogizawa. Tateyama Highland Bus takes you to mountain zone through alpine meadow gradually. I think Murodo and Kurobe Dam are highlight on this route. If you start from Ogizawa, you may be tired after Murodo. It is the longest segment on the route. But this is my thought. Some of you who have already been there may have different opinion.

I hope this post will help you to build your plan to get one of most amazing mountain route, Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.

2 thoughts on “Trip report of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route from Toyama to Nagano”

  1. hi! It is normal though we went and saw the mountains in snow capped, there was a time when we are stucked due to thick snow, we couldn’t move up to the highest point, so there are always gives & takes! @ least you get to see the dam and the water gushing (in your first photo) , we saw its frozen state…which is why the kurobe dam area was targeted to have different scenes/feels at diff seasons
    but if you ask me again, I would still suggest for the snowy period though challenging as well as the springs

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