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The Roof Of Japan: Tateyama Kurobe Alapine Route (Guide)


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Netti Danner



Welcome to the breathtaking beauty of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, a magnificent mountain pass in Japan that offers an unforgettable journey through some of the most stunning landscapes in the country. Nestled in the heart of the Japanese Alps, this iconic route, also known as the “Roof of Japan,” is a must-visit for nature lovers, adventure enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a truly immersive experience in Japan.


The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route stretches across Toyama and Nagano Prefectures, spanning a distance of approximately 90 kilometers. It is renowned for its majestic mountain peaks, pristine alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic vistas that will leave you breathless. The route is accessible from mid-April to mid-November when the snow is cleared and transportation services are available.


There are numerous transportation options available to explore the route, including cable cars, buses, and walking paths. This allows visitors to access the different attractions along the way and take in the awe-inspiring scenery at their own pace. Whether you are traveling solo, with family, or as part of a group, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route promises a memorable adventure that will stay with you for a lifetime.


Throughout this article, we will guide you through all the essential information you need to plan your visit to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. From how to access the route, to the best time to visit, and the major attractions along the way, we have got you covered. So, gear up and get ready to embark on a journey that will take you to new heights and leave you in awe of Japan’s natural beauty!


How to Access Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Accessing the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is relatively straightforward, and there are multiple points of entry depending on your starting location. Here are a few options:

  • Toyama Station: If you are coming from Tokyo or other major cities, you can take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Toyama Station. From Toyama Station, you can board a local train or bus to Tateyama Station, which serves as the starting point of the Alpine Route.
  • Shinano-Omachi Station: If you are coming from Nagano, you can take the JR Oito Line to Shinano-Omachi Station. From there, you can board a bus to Ogizawa Station, which is another entry point to the Alpine Route.
  • Nagano Station: Another option is to take the Hokuriku Shinkansen or the limited express train from Tokyo to Nagano Station. From Nagano Station, you can take a bus to Ogizawa Station.

Once you reach Tateyama Station or Ogizawa Station, you can purchase a special combined ticket called the “Tateyama Kurobe Option Ticket.” This ticket allows unlimited travel on all the transportation modes along the Alpine Route, including cable cars, buses, and the electric trolley bus. It also includes a one-way ticket for the Tateyama Tunnel Trolley Bus, which is a unique experience in itself.


The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is designed as a one-way route, and most visitors complete it from Tateyama Station to Ogizawa Station. However, you can also start from Ogizawa Station and travel in the opposite direction. Plan your itinerary accordingly and allocate enough time to explore the various attractions along the way.


Keep in mind that the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is only accessible during the designated opening period, which is typically from mid-April to mid-November. Outside of this period, certain sections of the route may be closed due to heavy snowfall. It’s always advisable to check the official website or consult with the local tourism office for the latest updates on accessibility and operating hours.


Now that you know how to access the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, let’s explore the best time to visit and the enchanting attractions that await you along the way.


Weather Conditions and Best Time to Visit

The weather conditions along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route can vary greatly depending on the season. It’s important to consider the weather and the best time to visit to ensure a pleasant and safe journey. Here’s what you need to know:


Spring (April to June): Spring is a beautiful time to visit the Alpine Route as the snow begins to melt, revealing vibrant alpine flowers and breathtaking landscapes. However, be prepared for cooler temperatures and the possibility of snowfall, especially in the early part of the season. The Tateyama Snow Corridor, a highlight of the route, is typically open from mid-April and offers a unique opportunity to walk through towering walls of snow.


Summer (July to August): Summer brings milder temperatures and less snow along the route. It’s a popular time to visit for hiking, outdoor activities, and enjoying the stunning scenery. However, be prepared for crowds, especially during the peak tourist season. It’s advisable to book accommodations and transportation in advance if you’re planning a summer visit.


Autumn (September to October): Autumn is considered one of the best times to visit the Alpine Route due to the vibrant fall foliage that blankets the mountainsides. The breathtaking combination of red, orange, and golden hues creates a picturesque backdrop for your journey. The weather is generally mild, making it an ideal time for outdoor exploration and photography.


Winter (November to April): Winter transforms the Alpine Route into a snow-covered wonderland, offering a unique and magical experience for visitors. However, please note that the route is closed during the winter months, except for the section between Tateyama Station and Bijodaira, which remains accessible for snowshoeing and skiing activities.


Considering these factors, the best time to visit the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is typically from late April to early June and from September to October. During these months, you’ll have a higher chance of clear weather, less crowded conditions, and the opportunity to witness the stunning beauty of spring flowers or autumn foliage.


Now that you have an idea of the weather conditions and the best time to visit, let’s explore the captivating attractions that await you along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.


Attractions along the Route

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is not only renowned for its breathtaking landscapes but also for the numerous attractions that dot the route. Here are some of the must-visit sights that you can explore along your journey:

  • Tateyama Station: The starting point of the Alpine Route, Tateyama Station is a charming mountain village surrounded by picturesque scenery. Take some time to explore the local shops, sample delicious regional cuisine, and immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere.
  • Kurobe Dam: As you continue along the route, you will come across the impressive Kurobe Dam, one of Japan’s largest dams. Marvel at its towering height and the stunning views of the expansive reservoir and surrounding mountains. You can also take a cruise on Lake Kurobe or visit the observation deck to capture panoramic photos.
  • Murodo Station: Located at an altitude of 2,450 meters, Murodo Station is the highest point on the Alpine Route. Here, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain ranges, visit the Murodo Alpine Botanical Garden, and take a walk along the hiking trails to discover alpine flora and fauna.
  • Tateyama Snow Corridor: One of the most popular attractions along the route, the Tateyama Snow Corridor offers a unique experience to walk between towering walls of snow. Reach heights of up to 20 meters, admire the stunning snow formations, and capture unforgettable photos in this winter wonderland.
  • The Alpine Route: Cable cars, buses, and walking paths: The main highlight of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is the journey itself. Experience a combination of cable cars, buses, and walking paths as you navigate through the stunning mountain scenery. Enjoy panoramic views from the ropeway, traverse the iconic Tateyama Tunnel via trolley bus, and immerse yourself in nature along the walking paths.

These are just a few of the many attractions you will encounter along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Each one offers a unique experience and showcases the natural beauty of the Japanese Alps. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking landscapes and memorable moments.


Now that you know the highlights of the route, let’s delve into the specific details of Tateyama Station, Kurobe Dam, Murodo Station, and the Tateyama Snow Corridor in the subsequent sections.


Tateyama Station

Tateyama Station serves as the gateway to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, welcoming visitors with its quaint charm and picturesque surroundings. Located in Toyama Prefecture, this mountain village is not only a transportation hub but also a destination in itself. Here’s what you can expect when you visit Tateyama Station:


Local Culture and Cuisine: In and around Tateyama Station, you’ll find a variety of shops, restaurants, and accommodations that reflect the local culture and cuisine. Explore the traditional architecture, browse through souvenir shops offering handmade crafts, and indulge in regional delicacies such as Toyama black ramen, Shiroebi (white shrimp), and Toyama Bay sushi.


Accommodation Options: Tateyama Station offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. From cozy ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) to modern hotels, you can find a comfortable place to stay and experience the warm hospitality of the region. Consider booking in advance, especially during the peak seasons, to secure your preferred choice.


Tateyama Funicular Railway: Adjacent to the station is the Tateyama Funicular Railway, which provides a scenic and convenient transportation option. The funicular railway takes you from Tateyama Station to Bijodaira, where you can continue your journey on the Tateyama Cable Car. Enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains as you ascend or descend on this charming railway.


Tateyama Museum: If you’re interested in learning more about the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and the surrounding natural environment, be sure to visit the Tateyama Museum. This informative museum features exhibits on the history, culture, and geology of the area. It’s a great way to gain insights into the Alpine Route and enhance your understanding of the region.


Local Festivals and Events: Throughout the year, Tateyama Station hosts various festivals and events that showcase the local traditions and cultural heritage. One notable event is the Tateyama Snow Festival, held in February, featuring stunning snow sculptures and exciting winter activities. Check the local event calendar to see if any festivals or events coincide with your visit.


Tateyama Station sets the stage for your adventure along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, offering a glimpse into the local culture and providing convenient access to transportation. Take some time to explore this charming mountain village before embarking on your journey through the majestic Japanese Alps.


Now, let’s move on to the next stop along the route: the awe-inspiring Kurobe Dam.


Kurobe Dam

Prepare to be awestruck by the sheer magnitude of the Kurobe Dam, one of Japan’s engineering marvels. Located along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, this colossal structure stands proudly as a testament to human ingenuity and provides visitors with a mesmerizing spectacle. Here’s everything you need to know about Kurobe Dam:


Size and Scale: Kurobe Dam is one of the highest and largest dams in Japan, towering at a staggering height of 186 meters. Spanning the Kurobe River, it forms the Kurobe Reservoir, offering an impressive sight with its colossal structure against the backdrop of majestic mountains.


Scenic Views and Activities: The area surrounding Kurobe Dam is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and photographers. Take in the breathtaking views of the reservoir with its crystal-clear turquoise water and the surrounding alpine scenery. There are multiple vantage points, such as the observation deck or the boat cruising on Lake Kurobe, that allow you to capture spectacular photographs.


Observation Deck: The observation deck, located near the dam’s crest, provides a panoramic view of the dam and its surroundings. From this vantage point, you can witness the immense scale of the dam and enjoy the beauty of the Kurobe Reservoir. On a clear day, the view stretches out to the distant peaks of the Japanese Alps.


Boat Cruising: Embark on a leisurely cruise across Lake Kurobe and take in the breathtaking vista of the dam from a different perspective. The boat ride allows you to appreciate the grandeur of the dam while enjoying the tranquility of the surrounding nature. It’s a serene and picturesque experience not to be missed.


Kurobe Dam Museum: Learn about the construction and history of Kurobe Dam at the Kurobe Dam Museum. The museum provides insights into the engineering techniques used to build the dam and displays models, photographs, and artifacts related to its construction. It’s a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of this remarkable feat of engineering.


Kurobe Dam is not only a symbol of human achievement but also a testament to the harmonious coexistence of nature and infrastructure. Your visit to the dam will undoubtedly leave you in awe of its engineering prowess and the stunning beauty of the surrounding landscape.


Next on our journey along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is Murodo Station, the highest point of the route and a gateway to breathtaking alpine vistas.


Murodo Station

Located at an elevation of 2,450 meters, Murodo Station is the highest point along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Situated in the heart of the Japanese Alps, Murodo Station offers breathtaking panoramic views and a gateway to various alpine attractions. Here’s what you can expect when you visit Murodo Station:


Spectacular Alpine Views: As you step off the transportation at Murodo Station, you’ll be greeted by awe-inspiring vistas of towering mountain peaks, expansive valleys, and pristine alpine lakes. The panoramic views at this high-altitude station are simply breathtaking, providing a remarkable opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the surrounding area.


Murodo Alpine Botanical Garden: Take a stroll through the Murodo Alpine Botanical Garden and be enchanted by the delicate alpine flora that thrives in this harsh yet beautiful environment. The garden features a diverse collection of alpine plants, many of which are unique to these high-altitude regions. Wander along the paths and marvel at the resilience and beauty of these specialized plants.


Hiking and Walking Trails: Murodo Station serves as the starting point for various hiking and walking trails, allowing you to explore the alpine landscapes up close. Depending on your fitness level and time constraints, you can embark on shorter walks or more challenging hikes to destinations like Jigokudani (Hell’s Valley) or summiting nearby peaks. Be sure to check the trail conditions and prepare accordingly.


Snow Activities (Winter Only): During the winter season, Murodo Station transforms into a snowy wonderland, offering a range of snow activities. From snowshoeing and sledding to skiing and snowboarding, there are plenty of opportunities to embrace the winter wonder of the Japanese Alps. Rental equipment and guided tours are available to cater to both beginners and experienced snow enthusiasts.


Highland Station: Connecting Murodo Station to Daikanbo, Highland Station is a must-visit spot along the Alpine Route. The scenic route between the two stations offers panoramic views of alpine landscapes and encompassing mountain ranges. Be sure to capture the breathtaking vistas and enjoy the serenity of being surrounded by nature.


Whether you choose to hike, explore the botanical garden, or simply soak in the stunning views, Murodo Station offers an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Japanese Alps. Take your time to appreciate the beauty and tranquility of this high-altitude paradise before continuing your journey along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.


Next, let’s explore one of the most iconic sights along the route, the Tateyama Snow Corridor.


Tateyama Snow Corridor

The Tateyama Snow Corridor is undoubtedly one of the most captivating sights along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. This incredible snow corridor, also known as “Yuki no Otani,” offers a surreal and awe-inspiring experience as you find yourself surrounded by towering walls of snow. Here is everything you need to know about the Tateyama Snow Corridor:


Impressive Snow Walls: The Tateyama Snow Corridor stretches between Murodo and Bijodaira and reaches heights of up to 20 meters. The massive walls of snow are formed from the heavy snowfall during the winter months, creating a mesmerizing spectacle that attracts visitors from all over the world. As you walk through the corridor, you’ll be immersed in a unique winter wonderland that is both beautiful and awe-inspiring.


Access and Winter Opening: The Tateyama Snow Corridor is accessible by foot or by bus during the winter months when the area is covered in snow. The section of the Alpine Route between Tateyama Station and Murodo Station remains open throughout the winter, allowing visitors to experience the snow corridor and enjoy various snow-related activities. However, it’s essential to check the opening and closing times as they may vary depending on weather conditions and maintenance efforts.


Snowshoeing and Winter Activities: Exploring the Tateyama Snow Corridor provides a perfect opportunity to engage in snow-related activities, such as snowshoeing. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and venture into the snow-covered landscapes, allowing you to explore areas beyond the designated paths. You can also try your hand at sledding or build a snowman, creating lasting memories in this winter wonderland.


Photography Opportunities: The Tateyama Snow Corridor offers incredible photo opportunities, regardless of your photography skills. The contrast of the pure white snow against the blue sky, combined with the towering snow walls, creates a visually stunning scene. Capture the beauty and grandeur of the snow corridor, and don’t forget to take a selfie to commemorate your visit.


Weather and Safety: Due to the location and high altitude, the weather conditions at the Tateyama Snow Corridor can be harsh and unpredictable. Dress appropriately in warm, winter clothing and be prepared for cold temperatures. It’s advisable to check the weather forecast and follow any safety instructions given by the staff to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.


The Tateyama Snow Corridor is a true winter wonder that offers a mesmerizing experience of being surrounded by towering walls of snow. Whether you choose to simply admire the stunning scenery or engage in winter activities, this unique attraction will leave you in awe of the beauty and power of nature.


Now that you’ve experienced the snow corridor, it’s time to continue our journey along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and explore the various transportation options that will take you from one spectacle to another.


The Alpine Route: Cable cars, buses, and walking paths

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route offers a thrilling adventure through the Japanese Alps, combining a variety of transportation modes and walking paths. This unique combination allows visitors to immerse themselves in the stunning landscapes while marveling at the engineering feats that make this journey possible. Here’s a closer look at the transportation options along the route:


Cable Cars and Ropeway: The Tateyama Cable Car is a highlight of the Alpine Route, transporting visitors from Bijodaira to Tateyama Station. Enjoy a scenic ride as the cable car ascends or descends the mountain slopes, providing stunning views of the surrounding valleys and peaks. At Murodo Station, you can continue your journey on the Tateyama Ropeway, which offers panoramic views of the alpine landscape as it glides over the mountain ridges.


Trolley Buses: To traverse the iconic Tateyama Tunnel, visitors can hop on the Tateyama Tunnel Trolley Bus. This unique and eco-friendly mode of transportation allows you to experience the thrill of riding through a scenic mountain tunnel, providing an unforgettable experience along the route.


Buses: Buses are an essential component of the Alpine Route, connecting different points along the journey. Buses are available to transport visitors between Tateyama Station, Murodo Station, Kurobe Dam, and other attractions. With comfortable seating and large windows, the buses offer picturesque views of the surrounding landscapes as you travel through the mountains.


Walking Paths: For those who prefer a more immersive experience, there are walking paths throughout the Alpine Route that allow visitors to explore the majestic scenery on foot. These paths offer opportunities to get closer to nature, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and fully appreciate the serenity and beauty of the Japanese Alps. The walking paths are well-maintained and offer varying levels of difficulty, catering to both leisurely strolls and more challenging hikes.


Each mode of transportation and walking path along the Alpine Route provides a different perspective and experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the natural and cultural wonders of the region. Whether you choose to ride the cable cars, take the buses, or walk along the paths, the journey promises awe-inspiring views and unforgettable memories.


As you plan your adventure along the Alpine Route, keep in mind that the transportation services operate on a fixed schedule and may be subject to weather conditions. It’s advisable to check the official website or consult with the staff for the most up-to-date information on operating hours and any potential closures.


Now that we have explored the various transportation options, let’s dive into the accommodation options available along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.


Accommodation Options

As you embark on your journey along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, you’ll find a range of accommodation options to suit your preferences and budget. Whether you prefer a cozy mountain lodge or a luxurious hotel, there are choices available at different points along the route. Here are some accommodation options to consider:


Ryokans: Immerse yourself in traditional Japanese hospitality by staying at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. Ryokans offer a unique cultural experience, with tatami-matted rooms, futon beds, and the opportunity to indulge in a traditional kaiseki (multi-course) meal. Relax in the tranquil atmosphere and enjoy the warm hospitality of the ryokan staff.


Mountain Lodges: For a more rustic and adventurous experience, you can stay at one of the mountain lodges along the route. These lodges provide basic accommodations in a mountain setting, giving you a chance to enjoy the serenity of the natural surroundings. While the facilities may be simpler, it’s an excellent option for those seeking a more immersive experience in nature.


Hotels: If you prefer more modern comforts, there are hotels available at various points along the route. These hotels offer comfortable rooms, modern amenities, and often, stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your preferred hotel option.


Guesthouses and Minshuku: Guesthouses and minshuku are budget-friendly options that offer a more casual and laid-back atmosphere. These accommodations provide comfortable rooms and communal spaces where you can interact with fellow travelers. It’s a great way to meet like-minded individuals and share your experiences along the route.


When choosing your accommodation, consider the location and proximity to the attractions you plan to visit. Some accommodations offer convenient access to transportation points, making it easier to navigate the route. Additionally, keep in mind that availability can vary depending on the season, so it’s recommended to book ahead, especially if you have specific preferences.


Regardless of the type of accommodation you choose, staying overnight along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route allows you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of the surrounding alpine landscapes. Wake up to breathtaking views, enjoy delicious meals, and relax after a day of exploration.


Now that you’re well-informed about accommodation options, let’s move on to some essential tips to make the most of your visit to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.


Tips for Visiting

Visiting the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is an exciting and memorable experience. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Plan Ahead: Before setting off, research the route, attractions, and accommodation options. Consider the best time to visit and make reservations for accommodations, especially during peak seasons. Having a well-planned itinerary will help you make the most of your time along the route.
  • Check the Weather: Weather conditions can change rapidly in the mountains, so it’s crucial to check the weather forecast beforehand. Dress in layers and prepare for both cold and warmer temperatures. Don’t forget to bring rain gear and sun protection as well.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: The Alpine Route involves walking, so wearing comfortable, sturdy shoes is essential. Choose footwear that provides good support and traction, especially if you plan to explore the walking paths or hike in the area.
  • Stay Hydrated and Pack Snacks: Bring a sufficient amount of water and snacks with you, as there may be limited options for purchasing refreshments along the route. Staying hydrated and having snacks on hand will help keep your energy levels up during your journey.
  • Respect Nature and Facilities: While exploring the Alpine Route, be mindful of the environment and follow any designated trails or paths. Avoid littering and respect the facilities and natural surroundings. Help maintain the beauty of the area for future visitors to enjoy.
  • Be Mindful of Altitude: Murodo Station and other higher points along the route are at a considerable altitude. Take your time to acclimatize and be aware of any symptoms of altitude sickness, such as dizziness or shortness of breath. If necessary, consult a healthcare professional before visiting.
  • Follow Safety Instructions: Pay attention to any safety instructions provided by staff members or signs along the route. Conditions can change quickly, and certain sections may be closed due to weather or maintenance. Your safety and the safety of others is paramount.
  • Carry Cash: While some establishments may accept credit or debit cards, it’s advisable to carry enough cash for your journey. Some smaller shops or facilities may only accept cash as a form of payment, so having local currency on hand will save you any inconvenience.
  • Enjoy the Journey: Lastly, remember to take in the beauty and grandeur of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Slow down, pause, and soak in the breathtaking views. Capture memories through photographs, but also embrace the experience fully with your senses.

Following these tips will help ensure a wonderful and memorable visit to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Stay prepared, be respectful, and embrace the spirit of adventure as you traverse the stunning landscapes of the Japanese Alps.


Now, get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey and discover the unparalleled beauty of the Roof of Japan!



The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a true gem nestled in the heart of the Japanese Alps. With its breathtaking landscapes, stunning alpine views, and impressive engineering marvels, it offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the beauty of Japan’s natural wonders. Whether you’re an avid nature lover, an adventure seeker, or simply someone who appreciates the majesty of mountain landscapes, this route has something to captivate and inspire you.


From the charming village of Tateyama Station to the astounding heights of Murodo Station and the awe-inspiring Tateyama Snow Corridor, each stop along the route holds its own unique allure. Explore the fascinating attractions, embrace the tranquility of the alpine environment, and marvel at the harmony between nature and human ingenuity.


As you journey through the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, be sure to plan ahead, check the weather conditions, and make the necessary reservations to optimize your experience. Stay hydrated, wear comfortable shoes, and respect the surroundings to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. And most importantly, take the time to appreciate the beauty around you, breathe in the crisp mountain air, and create lasting memories.


The Roof of Japan beckons with its remarkable landscapes and rich cultural experiences. Whether you visit during the vibrant hues of spring and autumn or amidst the towering snow walls of winter, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route will leave an indelible impression on your heart and mind.


So, prepare yourself for an unforgettable adventure as you traverse this remarkable route, and let the beauty of the Japanese Alps unfold before your eyes. The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route awaits, ready to whisk you away on a journey you’ll treasure for a lifetime.