A dramatic and memorable way to travel from the Sea of Japan coast across the Alps to Nagano-ken or vice versa, using a combination of buses, trains, funicular and cable cars, is to follow the Tateyama–Kurobe Alpine Route (立山黒部アルペンルート; w www.alpen-route.com). The 90km route is only open from mid-April to mid-November, depending on the snow, and is at its busiest between August and October, when on certain sections you may have to wait a while for a seat or a spot on the cable car (numbered tickets are issued for order of boarding). Delays apart, it takes about six hours to traverse the roof of Japan; the spectacular views fully justify the ¥10,560 one-way ticket. Start early so you have some time to wander around along the way.

Starting from Toyama, take the Toyama Chihō Tetsudō line to the village of Tateyama (立山) at the base of Mount Tateyama (45min; ¥1170), one of the most sacred mountains in Japan after Mount Fuji and Mount Hakusan. Board the Tateyama Cable Railway for the seven-minute journey (¥700) up to the small resort of Bijo-daira (美女平), meaning “beautiful lady plateau”. One of the best parts of the journey follows, taking the Tateyama Kōgen bus (55min; ¥1660) up the twisting alpine road, which early in the season is still piled high on either side with snow, to the terminal at Murodō (室堂). Only five minutes north of the bus terminal is the Mikuriga-ike, an alpine lake in a 15m-deep volcanic crater and, twenty minutes’ walk further on, Jigokudani (Hell Valley), an area of boiling hot springs. There are also several longer hikes that you can do around Murodō, which is the best place to end your journey along the Alpine Route, if you’re short of time or money. There are several places to stay in Murodō: try Tateyama Murodō Sansō (立山室堂山荘; t 076/465-5763; ¥10,001−15,000), also a good place to head for lunch if you want to avoid the crowds at the Hotel Tateyama (t 076/465-3333, w www.alpen-route.co.jp/h-tateyama; ¥30,001−40,000) at the head of the Tateyama tunnel.

The next section of the journey – a ten-minute bus ride to Daikanbō (大観峰) along a tunnel cut through Mount Tateyama – is the most expensive (¥2100). The view from Daikanbō across the mountains is spectacular, and you’ll be able to admire it further as you take the Tateyama Ropeway cable car (¥1260) down to the Kurobe Cable Railway (¥840) for a five-minute journey to the edge of the Kurobe-ko lake formed by the enormous Kurobe dam (黒部ダム; w www.kurobe-dam.com). Blocking one of Japan’s deepest gorges, the dam is a highlight of the trip, and there are also boat trips across the lake (30min; ¥930) and some excellent hiking. An easy thirty-minute walk along the lake to the south gets you to a campsite, and if you have gear and the Tateyama topographical map – available in any major bookstore – you could continue for days along some of Japan’s most spectacular hiking trails.

From the cable railway you’ll have to walk 800m across the dam to catch the trolley bus (¥1260) for a sixteen-minute journey through tunnels under Harinoki-dake to the village of Ōgisawa (扇沢), across in Nagano-ken. Here you’ll transfer to a bus (40min; ¥1330) down to the station at Shinano-Ōmachi (信濃大町), where you can catch trains to Matsumoto or Hakuba. You can buy a ticket covering the whole trip at either end (¥10,560).

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Japan features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Japan House: a new cultural crossroad between Britain and Japan

Japan House: a new cultural crossroad between Britain and Japan

Travel to Japan has boomed over the past year, with over 300,000 UK visitors rushing to the country in 2017. But if you want to experience the country's exquisi…

22 Jun 2018 • Eleanna Zanga insert_drive_file Article
In search of the secret to long life in Nagano

In search of the secret to long life in Nagano

People in Nagano, Japan, live longer than virtually anywhere else on earth. But what’s the secret of this success? Our writer Shafik Meghji travelled across…

16 May 2018 • Shafik Meghji local_activity Special feature
Kyushu's living stories: exploring Japan's unsung corner

Kyushu's living stories: exploring Japan's unsung corner

This year Japan celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration – the event that returned the emperor to the throne, and set the country back on th…

09 May 2018 • Neil McQuillian local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs