Hello, it’s Yuko!
Is there any places you would like to visit at least once in your lifetime?
There are many wonderful places in Japan and around the world and I have always wanted to visit the Tateyama Alpine Route. Guess what! My wish finally came true the other day!!
Today, I would like to share the wonderful scenery of Tateyama with you all.
What is Tateyama Alpine Route?
Where exactly is the Tateyama Alpine Route? It is located in Toyama Prefecture.
To get there from Kansai area, you can either drive or take a train to Tateyama Station. If you are driving, take the Hokuriku Expressway to Tateyama Station. There is a large free parking lot in front of Tateyama Station. The trip takes about 4 hours.
By train, you can take the long route from Osaka Station to Kanazawa Station by Thunderbird, then to Toyama Station by Shinkansen, and to Tateyama Station by train from Toyama Station. The trip takes less than 4 hours.
In my case, I left in the middle of the night and drove to Tateyama Station.
From Tateyama Station, take the cable car to a place called Bijyodaira, about 800 meters above sea level. The cable car ride takes about 7 minutes.
Once you arrive at Bijyodaira, a special bus will take you from there to a place called Murodo at an altitude of about 3,000 meters. The bus ride takes about one hour. Murodo is the highest point on Tateyama.
What’s the place like?
Tateyama is a mountain that preserves as much of its original nature as possible.
Japanese mountains look very green and rich in nature, but in fact, more than 60% of the country is covered with man-made forests (cedar and cypress). Because there is no food in areas where artificial forests grow, wild animals cannot live there.
In fact, Japan is a country with very little wild nature.
Tateyama is at a high altitude, and you can see a variety of vegetation and wildlife on the way to the mountaintop. It is also rich in wetlands and is registered under the Ramsar Convention.
Everyone is working together to protect the rich natural forests so that they will not be destroyed any further. For this reason, private cars are not allowed to drive from Tateyama Station to the top of the mountain.
Attractions of Tateyama in Winter
Right now, there is a lot of snow on the way to Murodo, the mountaintop of Tateyama in winter. Especially this year, there was a lot of snowfall, so you can see a wall of snow called “Yukino Ootani” (Snow Ootani).
This year, the height of Yukino Ootani is 18 meters!
My travel report!
What did I do?
There are two main ways to spend winter in Tateyama.
The first is skiing. However, there are no lifts in this nature conservation area. Everyone carries their skis on their backs and walks up to the top of the mountain and skis down.
Seeing this scene, I thought to myself, “It takes more stamina to climb than to ski…”
The second is to enjoy walking through the many snowfalls and snowfields. I enjoyed this one.
By the way, the lowest temperature was -11 degrees Celsius and the highest was 8 degrees Celsius on that day.
It is still winter now there, so not many creatures can be seen, but Tateyama is home to the thunderbirds, which are a natural treasure.
They are covered with white fur in winter, making them hard to find, but we were lucky enough to see them!
Vastness, Blue sky and the Silence
It is a field of snow all around, with only a few buildings and nothing else around. The greatness and vastness of nature can be felt very much when you are in the wide snowfield of the mountain. Also, it was a very clear day, so the blue sky seen through the clear air was very beautiful.
In addition, the whole area of Murodo is so large that even if there are many people, the distance between them does not get any closer. Therefore, you can be in a silent space.
When I was still in the silence, I could faintly hear the sound of the wind and birds singing, which was very detoxifying.
The next photo was taken at sunrise the next day. I was able to watch the sun rise slowly from the mountain in the east.
There are several mountain lodges and hotels from Bijyodaira to Murodo where you can stay overnight.
The price of a mountain lodge is about 10,000 yen (Hotels are more expensive, costing about 35,000 yen.)
I stayed at “Murodo Sanso”, which is the highest lodge, so I could see the sunrise on the next day.
The bus from Bijyodaira arrives at Murodo at 8:00 a.m., so sunrise is a privilege only for guests.
What to do in other seasons
Stargazing in summer
In summer, stargazing and trekking are available. During trekking, you may be able to see wild deer and bears.
Also, during the summer, you can pitch your tent (at a lower altitude than Murodo), so you can enjoy stargazing at your leisure.
The leaves turn very beautiful in the fall. However, because of the high altitude, the leaves begin to change at the end of September.
If you go there around November with the same feeling as near your house, you should be careful because it is already snowing.
Go to Tateyama, where the real nature awaits you
As I mentioned earlier, there are very few natural forests in Japan. Among them, Tateyama, where everyone is working together to preserve as much nature as possible, is an ecological treasure house.
It may be a little far from Kansai and difficult to get to, but if you have the chance, please visit there.