Hello! I hope you have an amazing week. It’s so cold in Tokyo right now and sometimes it rains that it become colder. I heard this winter is colder than the winter before. Speaking of winter, last April I went to Toyama to see the giant snow wall in the Alpine Route. If you remember, I went to Alpine Route before at the end of summer. You can read more about the post here. I have to say that the experience in summer and winter are quite different.
Last time, we took the route from Tateyama to Nagano. This time, we took the other around. We leave Shinjuku by bus around 10AM in the morning and we reached at Shinano-Omachi around 1PM. Shinano-Omachi is an onsen-town close to Hakuba Ski Resort.
I actually left my phone at the bus, so I took a taxi to Hakuba to retrieve my phone. Japan is really safe that I got my phone back.
Back to Shinano-Omachi, we stayed in a Ryokan in Omachi-onsenkyo. We need to take bus or taxi from Shinano-Omachi station to Omachi-onsenkyo. Shinano-Omachi is the starting point for Alpine route if you come from Nagano-side. There’s a bus that can take you to Ogimachi from Shinano-Omachi or Omachi-onsenkyo.
The local bus from Shinano-Omachi cost around 1,330yen, but I think I got it cheaper from Omachi-onsenkyo (around 990yen). When I arrived at Shinano-Omachi, it was raining and the weather is a bit cold. My suggestion if you want to go to Yuki no Otani, wear a proper warm coat and waterproof shoes. Don’t forget to bring sunglasses too because it’s so bright on the top of the mountain.
I went there on April 28th and normally you cannot find sakura flowers anymore at Kanto Area during that period. However, you can still find some sakura left at Shinano-Omachi area.
We stay in this Ryokan called Alpine Route Hotel at Omachi-Onsenkyo. Most ryokan in Omachi-onsenkyo offer a luggage shipping from Omachi to Tateyama for around 1000yen per luggages. We asked the hotel to ship our luggage to our hotel in Tooyama. If your hotel do not provide the shipping office, you can always find shipping service at Ogimachi or Tateyama (if you come from Toyama side).
We started to go up to Alpine route the next day. We were lucky because it was sunny. You have to know that Yuki no Otani walk might be suspended if the weather is bad. We arrived at Ogimachi and we bought our ticket there. The entire ticket from Ogimachi to Toyama station cost around 9490yen. Of course if you stay at Murodo or Midagahara you can opt for another ticket price. For full info please refer to their official site here.
Because we came from Ogimachi side, the first stop is the Kurobe Dam. Kurobe Dam is one of the most famous hydropower in Japan. In summer (July – Mid Oct) you can see the the water released from the dam and if you go to the observation point, you can see the rainbow at the dam mouth. On April, the river is frozen and therefore there’s no water released from the dam.
At this time, you can still go to the observation point, however you have to use the indoor path because you cannot use the outdoor stairs.
From Kurobe Dam, we took the cable car to Kurobedaira. In each stop point, usually there’s a rest area where you can eat and buy food. However, the biggest and spacious rest area is located at Murodo because that’s where the hotel located. It might be crowded during the lunch time, you need to plan where to rest and where to leave according to your schedule.
The view from Kurobedaira is really nice and you can also walk around the area to take picture. I did not wear a proper waterproof boots so I did not walk around that much.
From Kurobedaira, we took tunnel trolley bus to Daikanbo and Murodo. By the time we reach Murodo, it was already lunch time, so we stopped at the restaurant to eat.
From the restaurant I could see the entrance to Yuki no Otani. I’d like to remind you that during this period, Yuki no Otani walk is really crowded. I went there 3 days before the golden week and the place was already full of tourist. Don’t go there during the golden week because you might spend 1 hour just to wait for your transport.
After lunch, we walked around Murodo before going to Yuki no Otani. Actually around Murodo, about 20 minutes walk, you can find Mikurigaike Pond. This crater pond from Mt. Tateyama is one of most famous spot at Murodo. From June you can see the peak of Mt. Tateyama reflected in the pond. However, around April the snow is still quite thick and therefore going to the pond might be a bit difficult.
There’re a lot more stroll spots around Murodo and I think you’ll need several hours to explore everything. If you’re interested with them, you can check all the famous spot and activities in Murodo here.
Yuki no Otani
I did not really walk around Murodo because my main goal in this trip is the Yuki no Otani. After walk a bit around Murodo, we headed to the Yuki no Otani.
Tateyama gets a lot of snow every year. On average, the snow can pile up to 7-meter-high and the highest accumulation is 20-meter of snow wall. The best time to see the giant snow wall is on April until June. After June, the snow is slightly melted and the wall becomes shorter, but you usually can enjoy the snow until August. It’s really amazing isn’t it because August is summer, but you can still enjoy the snow.
you can walk around the 500-m path of snow walls. The road is divided into 2 part, the left side is for the bus to take you to Bijoudaira. The walking path might be closed if the weather is bad or due to the snow-clearing job. Please wear sunglasses and wear a lot of sunblock because it’s really bright up there. Wear waterproof boots too because the road is really slippery.
(this is the highest point of the snow wall, around 20m)
From Murodo, we took the bus to Bijoudaira. When I visited on Summer, the scenery is really nice and you can see the waterfall from the bus. However, this time the scenery is pure white. The bus also did not stopped at Midagahara or Tengudaira.
From Bijoudaira we directly took the cable car to Tateyama station because there’s nothing to see around Bijoudaira during this season. We started our journey from Omachi-onsenkyo at 8AM in the morning and we reached Tateyama station around 4.15PM in the afternoon. Even though some spots are full of tourist, this time we did not have to wait long for the transportation, and thus making the whole journey even more comfortable and pleasant.
We rest a bit at Tateyama before we took the train to Toyama station. At this point, the temperature had risen significantly, but it was still cold.
We reached our hotel in Toyama around 6PM. We stayed at the same hotel as before (Alpha One Hotel Toyama) and when we reached there, we already found our luggage there. I’d totally recommend you using this luggage shipping service because then you don’t have to carry a lot of things with you at the mountain.
I’d recommend you to try this Yuki no Otani or at least the Alpine Route experience. However, avoid the long holiday and if you’re not sure to go there yourself, there’re a lot of local tours that offer package to Alpine Route.
The cons of the trip will be:
- Time consuming. Took the whole day in the mountain and another 1-2 days if you want to stay at Nagano or Toyama.
- Transport is a bit pricey
- Crowded at certain period of time
However, the view and the experience you got is irreplaceable.
We stayed another night at Toyama before departing to Kanazawa. Stay tune and follow me to Kanazawa at the next post. As usual, your comments will always make my day!
Thanks very much for your great description of the Alpine Trail, we are going in April this year from Omachi as well.
Thank you for your comment. I hope you will enjoy the trip.