The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is one of the most scenic mountain routes, lying in the midst of 3,000m high mountains. It has wonderful features every season and is a perfect destination for those who love nature. In the past, however, only a small number of mountaineers enjoyed such features. The opening of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in 1971 made it possible for us to go deep into nature. Now, we are able to appreciate various features from different angles using four kinds of vehicles including trolleybus and ropeway. The ropeway, for example, operates for 1.7km distance and 500m elevation difference with no support towers in between, letting us to enjoy 360 degree panoramas.
The Alpine Route is closed during the long, severe winter. It opens to public every April with the first tourist highlight Snow Walls Otani in Murodo. Murodo is located at 2,450m above sea level in the middle of the mountains. In winter, the snow piles up against the mountains, creating a snowdrift as high as 20m. In spring, the snow on the road along the Alpine Route is cleared away, leaving a 500m-long passage with 20m-high snow walls on both sides. The majestic passage is called the Snow Walls Otani and is open to pedestrians until the mid June.
At the end of June, Kurobe Dam discharge begins. Kurobe Dam, completed after 7 years of work, is the greatest dam of Japan. It is 186m high and 492m long and can store 200 million tons of water at a time. During the season, up to 15 tons of water per second is spectacularly discharged from the dam with snow-capped high mountains surrounding it.
From September onwards is the season for coloured leaves at Murodo and its vicinity. As the autumn deepens, leaves gradually turn red or yellow from the places of higher altitudes to the lower, forming a palette of colours at each moment. If you take the Tateyama Ropeway, which runs for a 500m elevation difference, you will see beautifully coloured such leaves all the way along the journey.