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A Journey through Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and the Great Snow Wall from Matsumoto

tamrong



This route is closed in winter and opened in spring.

In 2015, it will be opened from 16th April.



I would like to write this travel blog for those who plan to go through Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, so you can have the better view how to get there and so on.


One said that Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is one of the most beautiful routes across the mountains in Japan.

The route connects Toyama and Nagano together through the high mountain range.

It is amazing how human manage to make the way through it.



The route has been opened since 1971.

It is 37-kilometer long at the high between 500 - 2,450 meters above sea level.

However, many kinds of transportation need to be used including walking throughout the route.



People are able to start their journey whether from Toyama or Nagano.

And I have chosen to start my trip from Matsumoto in Nagano because the hotels in this area seem to be cheaper.

The brief travel plan for today is to go to the famous snow wall in Murodo and come back down to stay in Matsumoto.



Let's take a look at the Alpine Route!
Today is 29th April 2014.

I woke up early to catch the train to go to Shinano - omachi.

6.06 AM, there is not many people at Matsumoto Station yet.


The next train to travel to Shinano - Omachi is at 6.27 AM and it will depart from platform number 3.

The train is here.


You better make sure that you are taking the right train by checking the sign on the side of the train.

My Vietnamese friend, Nguyen, volunteers to be the model for me.


The train passes a river before approaching Asuzabashi Station.


I guess it was Asuza River as Asuzabashi means Asuza Bridge.

Asuza is also the name of the express train, Limited Express Asuza, from Shinjuku to Matsumoto (this is what I guess).




The scenery along the way is very nice and refreshing. There are rice fields, cherry blossom trees, and snow-capped mountains.


Then the train crosses another river again. Well, we passed Asuza River earlier so how about this one?

I try to think about it but I guess I better have a look at the map later when I get back to the hotel.


The train has finally arrived at Shinano - Omachi Station.



You don't need to be worried that you will get lost. There is a clear sign directing you from the station. And we need to turn left here.


If you have hand baggage that you would like it to be delivered to another side of the mountain, you can turn right for the hand baggage delivery service.


They even have the sign on the floor outside the station.


It is only 30-meter away from the station to get to the bus stop to Ogisawa. You can buy a bus ticket right at the bus stop before queuing.


The bus has arrived.


We are ready with the tickets.


The bus in empty like this not for long, people are coming.

It seems like the main passengers are local and there are around 4 tourists as I can notice.


The ride to the snow-capped mountain is enjoyable with the charming view along the way...


The stream right by the road is truly clean and clear because it is from the melted snow up in the mountain.


Not only the mountains and stream we see along the way but also the monkey. He is sitting right in the middle of the road.

It has been a short ride and we have arrived at Ogisawa, the starting point of the Alpine Route.

We can see some snow on the ground already.


We don't hesitate to go to the ticket office right away. We have planned to go to Murado only to see the snow wall before coming back down.


The ticket costs around 9,000 JPY per person and you can use this ticket throughout the route.


There are not many tourist right now and that makes me very happy. I hope it will stay like this today. So, let's go and queue up for the bus!


Around 10 minutes later, I turn back and look at the line.

Oh my god! The line is very long already. It lasts until the entrance now, luckily that we come early.


The alarm goes off and the door is opened. People start to get onto the bus very quickly.

It is an electric bus that isn't run by the gasoline.


The bus runs through the mountains which are partially covered with the snow before going into the tunnel and stop.


From there, we need to take the secret tunnel to Kurobe Dam.


The arrow is pointing out where we are right now and yes, it will still be a long way.


We have spent around 15 minutes here by Kurobe Dam taking photos and admiring the scenery.

I am telling you that it will be very cold if there is a strong wind.


Can you spot the ice sheet floating on the water?


There is another tunnel at the end of the dam wall.


We have to queue up again. hahaha


There are two lines here, one for individual tourist and another one for group tour.


We have to take the cable car this time. However, this cable car has no view since it goes through the tunnel only.


There are limited numbers of seats on board because it is just a 5-minute ride.


Do you want to guess, what do we need to do next?



Yes, we need to queue up. hahaha


Then we just need to wait for the alarm to go off as the signal that we can start to board the cable car.



When the time comes, everyone just rush into the cable car.

It is packed, I am telling you. hahaha


What I am very impressed is the way the staff send us off. I guess they will bow because they stand up straight when all passengers have boarded into the cable car. I don't hesitate to have my camera ready.


And yes, they bow like 90 degree to send us off.


Even though there are too many people inside the cable car comparable as people on JR Yamanote Line at 8 AM on Monday, we all don't even realize that.


We are all very excited with the amazing view in front of us.



I guess those in the middle of the cable car are not that lucky because the view has been blocked by the wall of people.


We are almost there but we need to queue up again firstly.

How many times I have to queue up today? I am getting tired already.

We are at Daikanbo right now.


We need to take the electric bus from here to the other side of the mountain.


On the bus, there is an introduction about how this route built up. I learn that it was not easy at all to complete the route. However, they managed to have it completed and officially opened in 1971.


They also try to have the least effect on the environment.

One main reason they use the electric bus is that it won't cause the poisonous gas in the tunnel as the air circulation isn't sufficient here.


The bus has arrived at the destination and I have noticed that we are at 2,450 meter above sea level now.


Oh my god! There are so many tourists from everywhere here.


Most of the tourists tend to come from Toyama and will head to Matsumoto.

Only a few that does other way around, I mean coming from Matsumoto.

So I guess this is the middle point where people from each side of the mountain are passing by each other.


Anyway, let's walk through this sea of people to the Great Snow Wall as the sign directs us.


There is the bus terminal right outside the building.


We keep walking and we have found that the snow wall is getting higher and higher.


The different weather in different month creates different layer of the snow.


We have finally arrived at the Great Snow Wall. Let's admire it since we don't have anything like this in Thailand! hahaha


Tips: To clear the road covered with the snow, they use the GPS in order to know where the road is actually is before using the snowplow to run through.


This is the timeline of the amount of the snowfall in each month in the previous year. The layer of the snow wall is also able to indicate that.


There is a Shinkansen coming to Toyama these days.




Therefore, you can leave Matsumoto in the morning and use the hand baggage delivery service to transfer your belongings across the mountains. Then you can just follow the route before approaching Toyama and take the Shinkansen back to Tokyo.

I have walked until the end of the snow wall and for us, we will take the same way back down to Matsumoto.

I can get more details on the way down as well.


We have ended up queuing 14 times, 7 times on the way up and 7 times on the way down. This has been consuming our energy greatly.

And I am sure it would be even worse on the weekend or public holiday.



We are back at Shinano - Omachi Station and we see the cherry blossom trees again.


We take Asuza train number 26 to go back to Matsumoto.


We arrive back in Matsumoto around 3 PM. We are exhausted and will sleep right away.


Thank you very much for reading through my travel blog and I am sorry that there might be too many photos. Anyway, what you see here is far less than what you will see with your own eyes.


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