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Alpine Route Adventure
Explore Japan's Northern Alps

Explore Japan's Northern Alps

Open annually from mid-April through November, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route draws huge numbers and a wide array of visitors from around the world each year, all eager to navigate the majestic and wild beauty of Japan’s Northern Alps. Located between Toyama and Nagano prefectures, this mountain range, also known as the Hida Mountains, is home to many natural wonders which can be conveniently explored thanks to the Alpine Route. The mountain sightseeing route connects the city of Toyama in Toyama Prefecture with the town of Omachi in Nagano Prefecture. With the March 14th, 2015 grand opening of the Northern Japan bullet train shortening the trip from Tokyo to Toyama to a leisurely 2 hours of beautiful scenery, getting to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route has never been easier!

Also referred to as the "Roof of Japan", the Alpine Route is renowned for the many highlights interspersed throughout each leg of the journey. Of particular note is the Tateyama Snow Corridor, an expanse of road flanked by massive walls of snow reaching up to 20 meters in height. Another point of interest is Kurobe Dam, Japan’s highest at 186 meters, surrounding by breathtaking mountain scenery. The route also boasts panoramic views of the Hida Mountains, exciting volcanic landscapes, waterfalls and many more attractions.

Despite its rugged terrain, the area is by no means off-limits to non-mountaineers. Those not looking to hike the entire trail will find that the Alpine Route is also quite friendly to nature enthusiasts of all ages and activity levels, owing to various means of public transportation which make traversing the Alps a piece of cake. The list of vehicles used to make the journey through the mountains includes trains, buses, a ropeway, cable cars, and even a trolley bus (the only one of its kind in Japan!).

Those hoping to stay close to nature can lodge in one of the many hotels and ryokan that are situated along the route; one advantage of this is being able to admire the sunset as it melts into the clouds, or being able to gaze at the stars when the sky is clear. However, visitors wishing to lodge closer to the city will have access to some of Japan’s best and freshest seafood in Toyama. Others wanting to relax will find their moment of tranquility at one of the onsen (hot spring) resorts also nearby.

*Please note that the route in its entirety is scheduled to be open in 2015 from April 16 until November 30.
*The Tateyama Snow Corridor is scheduled to be open to pedestrians in 2015 from April 16 until June 22.


Can’t wait to stretch your legs and breathe in some fresh mountain air? Start planning your alpine adventure by checking out some of our recommended hotels and ryokan!

Hotel Spotlight

Access

Perhaps the most convenient way to access the Alpine Route is from the city of Toyama.

GETTING TO TOYAMA

From Tokyo: With the expansion of the Hokuriku Shinkansen opening on March 14th, 2015, getting to Toyama from Tokyo has never been easier! The bullet train ride takes about 2 to 2.5 hours.

From Osaka & Kyoto: Take the JR Thunderbird Limited Express to Toyama Station (about 3 to 3.5 hours).

From Nagoya: Take the JR Shirasagi Limited Express to Toyama Station (about 3.5 hours).

By Air: Alternately, it is possible to fly to Toyama Airport, from where a 25-minute bus ride will take you to Toyama Station.

GETTING TO THE ALPINE ROUTE

From Toyama: After arriving in the city of Toyama, head to Tateyama Station from Dentetsu-Toyama Station. The ride is just one hour.

Tateyama

  • Tateyama Station

    Tateyama Station

    When approaching the Alpine Route from Toyama, Tateyama Station is the first stop. For those interested in the history of the the relationship between Tateyama and people, the Tateyama Museum is located nearby.

  • Cable Cars

    Cable Cars

    There are two cable cars you may potentially ride along the Alpine Route. The first of the two is at the foot of the mountain on the Toyama side, which brings you to the Tateyama Highland Bus, reaching an elevation of 500 meters. The second cable car is further along the route towards the Kurobe Dam and is the only underground cable car in Japan, feeding into the Tateyama Ropeway. The sharp contrast between the cable car tunnel and the amazing view from the ropeway is especially breathtaking.

  • Trolley Bus

    Trolley Bus

    Japan's only trolley bus! Drawing electricity from overhead wires, the trolley bus takes passengers from Murodo to Daikanbo in about 10 minutes.

  • Highland bus

    Highland bus

    The major climb up the mountain is primarily done by bus. This ride in particular is one of the most scenic you will ever have the joy of taking. As the scenery of Tateyama changes with the season, many visit the mountain more than once. There are many points where you may alight from the bus, including the last leg before reaching Murodo or around Shomyo Falls, the tallest waterfall in Japan.

  • Shomyo Falls

    Shomyo Falls

    At 350 meters, Shomyo Falls is Japan's tallest year-round waterfall. In the spring time, the snowmelt brings the adjoining Hannoki Falls which is 500 meters in height.

  • Midagahara

    Midagahara

    After about 30 minutes on the bus, hop off to reach Midagahara, one of the world's most valuable wetlands, existing at an altitude of 1,900 meters. A boardwalk at Midagahara allows hikers to explore the wetland, where panoramic views of stunning scenery abound.

  • Snow Corridor

    Snow Corridor

    Perhaps one of the more well-known scenes that can be enjoyed from the bus ride is the massive snow corridor, where many people choose to get down from the bus and walk the length of the corridor for about 500 meters, the last leg of the bus ride before reaching Murodo. The snow corridor has walls that can reach as high as 20 meters and is accessible from April 16 until the end of June.

Hotels in Tateyama & Kurobe

  • Tateyama
    Hotel Tateyama
    Guest Rating: 4.5

    This mountain resort is the highest altitude hotel in all of Japan. With a panoramic view of the mountains, guests can enjoy the surrounding nature to the fullest.

    Hotel Tateyama

    from 20,520 JPY

  • Tateyama
    Midagahara Hotel
    Guest Rating: 4.63

    Situated above the Alpine Route's famous "Sea of Clouds" view at 1,930 meters altitude, this mountain resort offers breathtaking views of the highlands and wetlands of Midagahara.

    Midagahara Hotel

    from 11,880 JPY

  • Tateyama
    Mikurigaike Onsen
    Guest Rating: 4.82

    Enjoy a dip surrounded by nature in Japan's highest altitude natural hot springs, where the spa is directly fed hot springs rich in cloudy sulfur straight from the source!

    Mikurigaike Onsen

    from 13,300 JPY

  • Foot of Tateyama
    Tateyamasanroku Onsen Tateyama Kokusai Hotel
    Guest Rating: 4.1

    An excellent base from which to begin your exploration of Japan's Northern Alps. Guests can soak their worries away in the beautiful hot spring facilities.

    Tateyamasanroku Onsen Tateyama Kokusai Hotel

    from 10,044 JPY

  • Foot of Tateyama
    White Bell
    Guest Rating: 4.54

    This charming, petite hotel is located in the center of Tateyama Sanroku Onsen. At-home hospitality and relaxing open-air baths await visitors planning to explore the Alpine Route.

    White Bell

    from 9,300 JPY

  • Foot of Tateyama
    Tateyamasanroku Onsen Crayon House
    Guest Rating: 4.86

    A stylish inn boasting natural hot spring facilities and close proximity to the Raicho Valley ski grounds.

    Tateyamasanroku Onsen Crayon House

    from 8,640 JPY

  • Kurobe
    Unazuki Onsen Unazuki Suginoi Hotel
    Guest Rating: 3.98

    This luxury hot springs resort is located in the middle of the Alpine Route's stunning mountain scenery. Guests can enjoy exceptional 24-hour onsen facilities with amazing panoramic views.

    Unazuki Onsen Unazuki Suginoi Hotel

    from 10,800 JPY

  • Kurobe
    Unazuki Onsen Tougen
    Guest Rating: 4.26

    This traditional-style onsen resort has fantastic views of the Kurobe River. Guests can enjoy the finest in local cuisine here, including Japanese glass shrimp and firefly squid.

    Unazuki Onsen Tougen

    from 12,960 JPY

  • Kurobe
    Unazuki Onsen Entaijiso
    Guest Rating: 4.39

    Boasting the best views in the area, this prominent hotel with luxurious hot spring facilities has the longest history in town, founded at the same time as Unazuki Onsen.

    Unazuki Onsen Entaijiso

    from 9,720 JPY

Hotels in Toyama & Uozu

  • Toyama City
    Toyama Dai Ichi Hotel
    Guest Rating: 4.29

    Comfortable rooms, a lovely atmosphere, plenty of gourmet dining options, and a great location next to Toyama Castle Park make this hotel an excellent option when staying in Toyama.

    Toyama Dai Ichi Hotel

    from 6,900 JPY

  • Toyama City
    Toyama Excel Hotel Tokyu
    Guest Rating: 4.19

    Only 3 minutes from JR Toyama Station on foot, this beautiful hotel has great facilities and is ideal for both business and sightseeing.

    Toyama Excel Hotel Tokyu

    from 7,700 JPY

  • Toyama City
    Oarks Canal Park Hotel Toyama
    Guest Rating: 4.63

    Located next to Toyama Prefectural Fugan Canal Park and just 2 minutes on foot from JR Toyama Station, this hotel offers complimentary WiFi and comfortable rooms at a great value.

    Oarks Canal Park Hotel Toyama

    from 5,500 JPY

  • Toyama City
    Comfort Hotel Toyama
    Guest Rating: 4.24

    This conveniently-located hotel offers complimentary WiFi in all rooms and a free continental breakfast service to all guests. Just a 2-minute walk from JR Toyama Station.

    Comfort Hotel Toyama

    from 4,100 JPY

  • Toyama City
    River Retreat Garaku
    Guest Rating: 4.83

    A unique and charming hot spring resort where each guest room boasts different décor and even an art musuem is counted among the gorgeous facilities. If you are looking for modern and luxurious accommodations, look no further.

    River Retreat Garaku

    from 38,700 JPY

  • Toyama City
    Hotel Grand Terrace Toyama
    Guest Rating: 4.01

    A complimentary ochazuke (a traditional Japanese dish featuring tea over rice) is served in the evenings from 9 pm until midnight. Just a 5-minute walk from JR Toyama Station.

    Hotel Grand Terrace Toyama

    from 3,769 JPY

  • Toyama City
    Daiwa Roynet Hotel Toyama
    Guest Rating: 4

    Complimentary WiFi is available in all guest rooms. The hotel is located just one minute from the Arakawa tram station.

    Daiwa Roynet Hotel Toyama

    from 4,350 JPY

  • Toyama City
    Toyama Manten Hotel
    Guest Rating: 4.05

    Guests can enjoy scenic views of Tateyama from the public baths. The breakfast buffet serves both Japanese and Western dishes.

    Toyama Manten Hotel

    from 4,850 JPY

  • Toyama City
    Dormy Inn Toyama
    Guest Rating: 4.23

    A complimentary shuttle service to and from Toyama Station is available. This hotel features large public baths and is suitable for both business and sightseeing.

    Dormy Inn Toyama

    from 3,495 JPY

  • Uozu
    Kitayamakosen Ganso Niemonya
    Guest Rating: 4.64

    Renowned for their culinary prowess, this ryokan also boasts open-air cypress bathing facilities and guests can feast on Japanese glass shrimp to their hearts delight. English-speaking staff available.

    Kitayamakosen Ganso Niemonya

    from 19,260 JPY

  • Uozu
    Hotel Granmirage
    Guest Rating: 4.64

    This hotel boasts the most spacious guest rooms in Uozu and is surrounded by greenery. Complimentary LAN internet is available in every guest room.

    Hotel Granmirage

    from 6,700 JPY

  • Uozu
    Uozu Manten Hotel Eki Mae
    Guest Rating: 4.53

    Just a minute's walk from Uozu Station, this comfortable hotel offers an excellent breakfast buffet as well as spacious public baths with both open-air baths and saunas attached.

    Uozu Manten Hotel Eki Mae

    from 4,400 JPY

Hotels in Kanazawa

  • Kanazawa
    Kanazawa Hakuchoro Hotel
    Guest Rating: 4.46

    This elegant hotel is adjacently located by Kanazawa Castle and is just a 5-minute walk to Kenroku-en Garden, ideal for sightseeing. Guests can enjoy gorgeous hot spring facilities and comfortable rooms.

    Kanazawa Hakuchoro Hotel

    from 6,000 JPY

  • Kanazawa
    Hotel Nikko Kanazawa
    Guest Rating: 4.37

    Conveniently-situated near Kanazawa Station, this hotel is the tallest in the Hokuriku area and boasts magnificent panoramic views. Complimentary WiFi is available in every guest room.

    Hotel Nikko Kanazawa

    from 6,800 JPY

  • Kanazawa
    Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel
    Guest Rating: 4.06

    This centrally-located hotel is ideal for sightseeing! Just a 7-minute walk from Kenroku-en Garden and 3 minutes from Kanazawa's famous samurai homes.

    Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel

    from 9,000 JPY

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*Disclaimer: Prices shown are lowest available room rates per person per night based on double occupancy. Prices may vary from those listed above depending on room type, number of guests staying, schedule, and inventory.