The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine is one of the most spectacular drives in the world. This unique and spectacular route through the Northern Japan Alps stretches over 37km and reaches an altitude of 2,450 metres. This is an area of immense snowfall, and when the road opens in mid May, it is surrounded on both sides by walls of snow 15 meters tall.
This sightseeing route is 90 km long. The surface of the road is asphalted and is completely inaccessible from December to mid April. There are sheer drops virtually along the entire route and enough hairpins to make a whirling dervish dizzy. This spectacular scenic passage over the Japanese Alps connects Toyama City and the Sea of Japan in Toyama Prefecture with OmachiTown in Nagano Prefecture.
The road was completed in 1971. The section between Tateyama Station and Ogizawa is closed to private vehicles and attracts about a million visitors every year. A quick glance at the map at its sheer drops and serpentine twists and turns, confirms that this is no hype. The highest station is Murodo, at an altitude of 2,450 m (8,038 ft) above the sea level. Known as the “Roof of Japan”, the beauty of the Alps fascinates many people, not only mountaineers but also tourists are able to experience their stunning enormity. It has wonderful seasonal features, and is a perfect destination for nature-lovers.
This is an exquisite winding mountain toll drive with sharp and blind curves and hairpin switchbacks leading the traveler over the mountains. The main attraction of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is the magnificent scenery of the Tateyama Mountain Range, part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park. The drive is definitely worth it. There are many excellent photo opportunities. Don’t forget your camera! The route goes across the 3,000-meter-high North Alpine mountains, the so-called “roof of Japan.
With such a high summit altitude the road can be closed anytime due to snowfalls. The zone is prone to heavy mist and can be dangerous in low visibility conditions. The route is particularly famous for the high snow walls that line some of its roads in spring.The Murodo-daira of Tateyama area has one of the heaviest snowfalls in the world, receiving about seven metres on average. However, the Otani snow mantle near Murudo can receive snowfall of up to an astonishing 20 m (65 ft), which allows the famous snow walls to be formed. In 2015, the snow corridor was open to pedestrians from April 16 to June 22. On the opening day, the snow walls reached a height of up to 19 meters.
Pic: Ronald WU