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Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Brisbane, Australia
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Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

We're thinking of doing this route in mid-May. If the weather is bad (raining) is it worth doing? It would be a long day of travel and 15 minutes of it is a walk, by what I can see from researching it.

It sounds spectacular, so we're very interested in it. Has anyone here done the Route and is May a good time?

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1. Re: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Mid-May (after Golden Week) will be a good time to visit the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route if you are interested in trying Tateyama Snow Corridor, which is open only between mid-April and May.

>>> If the weather is bad (raining) is it worth doing? It would be a long day of travel and 15 minutes of it is a walk, by what I can see from researching it. <<<

It really depends on what you would like to do/see in Japan. As I love visiting Japan Alps, including the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, it would worth doing it for me even if it rains a little. I wouldn’t do it if there is a typhoon or the rain is heavy. You may skip walking the passage if it rains. Please see

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e7550.html#snow

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2. Re: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Thanks edokko

Would we have to pre-book the trip at that time of year? If so we would then become committed to doing that route even if the weather is terrible.

The other way I've considered getting to Matsumoto from Kanazawa is via Takayama - I think the two bus rides combined would be cheaper than the cost for the Tateyama Kurobe route.

We'll probably have rail passes so the cheapest way of all for us to go from Kanazawa to Matsumoto would be along the coast to Itoigawa then down through Hakuba. Would this also be scenic in parts?

We are wanting to do a circuit - Osaka to Kanazawa to Matsumoto and back to Osaka through the Kiso Valley. We have previously done the beautiful train trip up and down the Hida Valley to Takayama so don't want to duplicate that.

Some advice would be appreciated.

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3. Re: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

OceanSkyBeach,

>>> Would we have to pre-book the trip at that time of year? If so we would then become committed to doing that route even if the weather is terrible <<<

When I travel within Japan, I’ve almost always booked hotels/ryokans at least 2-3 days in advance while I’ve taken trains without any reservations. It would be difficult to find a hotel/ryokan on the day if you don’t speak Japanese, though it may be possible. So, I’d recommend that you book a hotel/ryokan at least 2-3 days in advance for weekdays, and at least a week in advance for weekends.

>>> We'll probably have rail passes so the cheapest way of all for us to go from Kanazawa to Matsumoto would be along the coast to Itoigawa then down through Hakuba. Would this also be scenic in parts? <<<

If you want to take one of the most scenic routes seeing Japan’s mountains, taking the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route would be a great idea, in my opinion. As you know, this route is very easy to travel by public transportation (not covered by JR Pass, unfortunately.) If you decide to go to the Kurobe Route, I’d recommend that you spend one night there and enjoy the area. Also, don’t forget to bring your heavy jacket because it will be pretty cold in May. If you want to travel the cheapest route, you may skip the Kurobe Route and take JR trains from Kanazawa to Matsumoto.

>>> The other way I've considered getting to Matsumoto from Kanazawa is via Takayama - I think the two bus rides combined would be cheaper than the cost for the Tateyama Kurobe route. <<< >>> We are wanting to do a circuit - Osaka to Kanazawa to Matsumoto and back to Osaka through the Kiso Valley. We have previously done the beautiful train trip up and down the Hida Valley to Takayama so don't want to duplicate that. <<<

I’m a bit confused. Have you been to Shirakawago during your first trip? If not, it would be a good idea to take a bus from Kanazawa -> Shirakawago -> Takayama, possibly spending a night in Shirakawago. If you’ve visited Shirakawago previously, you may skip this route.

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4. Re: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

I see from the weblink that the entire Alpine route will not open until 17 April.

If we went on 11 April would we be able to do anything, ride on anything or see what? Will some sections be open?

I see from TA postings that the snow is not great this year. Is there a possibility that the route may open earlier?

Would appreciate any feedback please.

Pam

Brisbane, Australia
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5. Re: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Thanks again eddoko

I was thinking we'd just stay in Kanazawa and Matsumoto at business hotels. The exchange rate is so bad for us Aussies at the moment that this would be the cheapest option for accomodation.

So we would do the route in one day of travel.I was just wondering if we should pre-book the transport if we do the Alpine Route.

I gather that the alternative route along the coast and down through Hakuba is pretty ordinary, although it can all be done by JR?

We stayed 2 nights in Takayama last year and saw the Hida Folk Village but didn't get time to see Shirakawago. People here say to see one or the other, so I thought we could skip it this time.

I really loved the Takayama area though, so I'd be happy to get to Matsumoto either via Takayama or the Alpine route. Both sound lovely - I'm just trying to decide which route to take, and the scrooge in me is also considering the coastal route to save money.

Which would be the most interesting way, in your opinion, to get from Kanazawa to Matsumoto?

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6. Re: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

If you start and end from Osaka or Kyoto, the best route (also the most expensive) is to do the Alpine Route eastward from Toyama/Tateyama and spending the night in Matsumoto. From Matsumoto, work yourself back westward by bus/train to Takayama via beautiful Kamikochi. From Takayama, again take bus to Kanazawa via Shirakawa-go/Ogimachi. From Kanazawa it is about 2 hr. direct JR to Kyoto, add another 30 min. if going back to Osaka.

Even not staying overnight in Kamikochi or Shirakawa-go, the 2 places are worth visiting for their beauty.

While in Matsumoto, another scenic side-trip is Daio Wasabi Farm, the largest wasabi farm in Japan.

For the Alpine Route, I don’t think you can pre-book the different means of transport. It’s like a giant conveyor belt, cable-cars and buses keep running once they are filled.

Weather is a big factor for the Alpine Route. We went in 2007 during the later part of April. Unfortunate for us, it was still snowing, and together with strong wind, we couldn’t walk out to the Snow Corridor. All we managed was have lunch in Murodo and continued on. At the Kurobe Dam, it was so windy that we could hardly stand, let alone admiring the scenery. Looking back, I think it’s wise to go later in the year, in May or even early June when the weather should be more stable though the snow walls may not be at their highest.

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7. Re: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Thanks William. That's very helpful.

I am thinking of doing our trip in the opposite direction to what you suggested:

Day 1. Train from Osaka to Matsumoto via the Kiso Valley, stopping to look at Tsumago and maybe Magome on the way (stay night Matsumoto)

Day 2. Matsumoto(stay night Matsumoto)

Day 3. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route East to West(stay night Kanazawa)

Day 4. Kanazawa(stay night Kanazawa)

Day 5. Train back to Osaka.

Is it better to do the Alpine route West to East?(fewer people going in that direction perhaps?)

Alternatively, after the Alpine route finishes we could get the train from Toyama to Takayama, stay the night there and the next day get the bus to Kanazawa via Shirakawago.

Or we could skip the Alpine Route altogether and get the bus from Matsumoto via Kamikochi to Takayama and the next day to Kanazawa.

I need to work out our final route so that I can book the accommodation.

If the weather is really bad, then we'd be better off abandoning the idea of the Alpine Route, but we won't know that until we get there.

Sorry this is so long-winded, but I want to get the Toyoko Inns in Matsumoto and Kanazawa booked soon before all the rooms disappear.

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8. Re: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

It’s perfectly OK to do the Alpine Route from east to west. I think there is less crowd doing that direction which may work to your advantage. You’re right about the weather condition, you won’t know till you get there. But going there in May stands a better chance of not meeting snow.

The only set-back I see in your route is that you’ll miss out Kamikochi en-route. If you have more time in Takayama, you can do a side-trip to Kamikochi which is definitely worth visiting.

Going to the Kiso Valley and stopping by Tsumago and Magome on your way from Osaka to Matsumoto on the same day seems too rush. The area really deserves a couple of days, if not more, IMO.

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9. Re: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

OceanSkyBeach,

>>> I gather that the alternative route along the coast and down through Hakuba is pretty ordinary, although it can all be done by JR? <<<

Re traveling between Matsumoto (松 本) and Itoigawa (糸魚川) by JR Oito Line, you may (or may not?) enjoy the view between Matsumoto and Minami-Otari (南小谷); however, there are many tunnels between Minami-Otari and Itoigawa (about 1hr) Also, as trains between Minami-Otari and Itoigawa would not have any toilets, you may want to go to the bathroom before your ride if you take a train between Minami-Otari and Itoigawa.

>>> Which would be the most interesting way, in your opinion, to get from Kanazawa to Matsumoto? <<<

I personally enjoyed the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route a lot, but can’t tell you what to do. If you end up taking the Kurobe Route, please write a trip report!

:-)

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10. Re: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Pam,

>>> If we went on 11 April would we be able to do anything, ride on anything or see what? Will some sections be open? <<<

According to their official website, they are planning to open the section between Shinano-Omachi (信濃大町) and Murodo (室堂) as well as the section between Dentetsu-Toyama (電鉄富山) and Midagahara (弥陀ヶ原) effective April 10, 2009.

As you know, the route between Midagahara and Murodo won’t be open until April 17.

>>> I see from TA postings that the snow is not great this year. Is there a possibility that the route may open earlier? <<<

I really don’t know. It may depend on the weather during the month of March.

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