Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Highlights
One of the main attractions of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (and certainly one of the most photogenic) is the road up the mountain which is sandwiched between the towering so-called "Great Walls of Snow." Taking a stroll next to these up to 5 meter tall walls of packed snow is rather otherworldly and gives you a quite clear idea of just how much snow falls here (hint: it's A LOT). Besides just experiencing the walk through the icy corridor and snapping pictures, carving your name or a message into the snow is a popular activity. Just be careful of your fingers; the snow is packed pretty hard, so you might need to use something like the tip of your umbrella or a pen to make your own mark.
To reach the Great Walls of Snow ("Yuki-no-Otani" in Japanese), take the funicular from Tateyama Station to Bijodaira (7 min., JPY 700 one-way) and then the bus to Murodo (50 min., JPY 1,660 one-way).
The Alpine Route is known for its myriad modes of transportation, like steeply inclined funiculars and trolley buses that cut right through the mountain. Perhaps the most well-known ride of the route, though, is the Tateyama Ropeway, a gondola-type aerial lift that spans more than a kilometer and a half without a single pylon between its two terminals. This makes it the longest such aerial lift in Japan and allows for both a smooth ride and uninterrupted views of the beautiful landscape, including the surrounding mountains and Kurobe Dam's reservoir below. The view is gorgeous in all seasons, from autumn's brightly colored foliage and winter's blankets of snow to the new life of spring and verdant greenery of summer.
Coming from Murodo (see above), take the Tateyama Tunnel Trolley Bus to Daikanbo (10 min., JPY 2,100 one-way). From there down to Kurobedaira, the ropeway is about 7 min. and costs JPY 1,260 one-way.
The waters of Shomyo Falls majestically crash a total height of 350 meters, an elevation exceeding that of even Tokyo Tower. Shomyo Falls is technically four smaller waterfalls in succession, but the combined distance makes it the tallest waterfall in Japan. In the spring months it is joined by its seasonably fickle twin, Hannoki Falls. Hannoki Falls is fed by snow melt, so it is typically only viewable alongside Shomyo during later spring and early summer (April - July). The mist-filled valley Shomyo Falls calls home is beautiful and atmospheric--lined by rocky crags and lush vegetation and split down the center by a clear, azure river--and it makes for a lovely mini-hike up the hilly path to the waterfall itself.
Shomyo Falls can be reached by sightseeing bus from Tateyama Station. The bus is available from late April until November 10 (20 min., JPY 500 one-way).
Check out our pictures from when we visited the places above!