May 26, 2015


Toyama prefecture(富山)is at the Japan Sea side, in the Chubu region(中部). In recent years, its Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is getting more and more popular with both locals and foreigners.

Indeed, this route through the Northern Japan Alps is really spectacular. Though it is only opened from mid April to end November. Also, the famous snow corridor that can go up to around 20 m high can only be seen from April to mid June.

The starting/ending points are Toyama city in Toyama prefecture and Omachi(大町)in Nagano prefecture(長野). (either direction is fine) The whole route is well-linked by buses, cable cars, ropeways etc.

When I went in early June 2013, I covered the route in a day, and pace was comfortable. Only stopped at Murodo(室堂)ー the middle and also the highest point of the route at 2450 m above sea level, to walk along the snow corridor and have lunch. I also checked out the lake and huts nearby and spotted a thunderbird(雷鳥), rare species that can be found in the region. It was really difficult to trek in the snow due to the poor grip of my boots, so I didn't stay too long.

For people who start late or prefer to spend more time at each stop for hiking etc, it is possible to stay overnight in Murodo.

Other than snow wall, the Daikanbo(大観峰)area has really magnificent views of the surrounding mountains.

For visitors going from late June to mid October, although it is not possible to see the snow corridor, they would get to see huge amount of water being discharged through the Kurobe Dam, sometimes forming rainbows. Autumn foliage can also be seen from late September to early November.

It costs around 10000 yen for all the transportation 1 way, and there are baggage forwarding services from one end to the other, costing around 1500 yen per luggage.

Another attraction in Toyama is Kurobe Gorge which I have not been to yet. Toyama also has 1 of the 3 great Buddha statues in Japan, along with Nara and Kanagawa.

Also, in spring months, it is possible to see Hotaru Ika(蛍烏賊)near Namerikawa(滑川)seaside. (The rather famous sight of Toyama Bay glowing blue.) I made reservation for a Hotaru Ika tour in 2015, that departs at around 3 am daily in spring provided weather is good. Unfortunately, weather was bad that day, so it was cancelled and replaced by a theater show. Though I actually saw Nino from Arashi shooting for a variety show outside of the Hotaru Ika Museum! More than compensated for the cancelled trip I guess :P

Other than Hotaru Ika in spring, Toyama is also a good place for other fresh seafood. White shrimps (白海老)is a local specialty.

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