Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route – From Foliage to Snow

We were at the base of the Tateyama Kurobe mountains. The hills around us were transformed by the beautiful colors of the Autumn leaves. In Japan, the leaves are called, “kouyou” or “momiji”. The Japanese admire “kouyou” just as they admire cherry blossoms in spring. We were delighted at the sight of the colored foliage.

Heading up the mountain, we were to ascend 1,975m and would experience a temperature drop of 10 degrees when we reach the top.

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is just 37 km in length, but to tackle this route, there are no other ways but to use 7 different public transports with 5 different modes, namely funicular, bus, trolleybus, aerial tramway, and walking.

On the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, as we ascended from the foot of the mountain, the autumn leaves display a wide range of colours including  Yellow Minekaede (one of maple varieties) and Dakekamba (Erman’s birch) as well as red Nanakamado (Japanese rowan) could gradually be seen as we proceed to the summit.

As usual, the best sights you saw were the sights while you are moving. While the funicular railway was making a steep climb, with all the trees seemed slanting, the views outside the funicular window were just picturesque. The fact that the funicular was quite full and that it was making a steep climb did not stop me from taking some photos from the funicular’s windows.

Not bothered with giving an impression to the fellow passengers on the funicular that I am sort of camera bug, I took a few more photos of the colored foliage on the way up the mountain.

As we proceeded higher up, we changed to a tired Trolley Bus with snow chains. The autumn spectacle of the multi-coloured leaves disappeared and gradually gave way to a snow scene. Snow was falling. The fall of snow that has completely turned the area to white, really compelled us all.

We were finally at 2,450 meters above sea level, at Daikanbo, the highest point of the Alpine Route. Daikanbo is located between Murodo and Kurobe-daira stations, where visitors transfer from the Tateyama Trolley Bus to the Tateyama Ropeway, or vice versa.

For the first time in many years we experienced  a snow world with different shades of black on the mountains.

We were thrilled by the marvelous snow landscapes.

Daikanbo is arguably the best viewing spot on the Alpine Route. An observation deck outside the precipitous offers the splendid view of Ushiro-Tateyama Mountain Range and Lake Kurobe.  Here we have a beautiful view of the mountains and the Lake Kurobe down below.

So, we have experienced the  beautiful colors of the fall foliage and the drastic change to the bleak and white and black of the snow capped mountains.   We made our way down, taking the ropeway (mountain cable car).

On the way, we have a great view of the beautiful Lake Kurobe.

We walked the whole length of the tallest dam in Japan at Kurobe and were happy to see colored foliage once again on this other side of the mountain  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

43 thoughts on “Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route – From Foliage to Snow

  1. Michael, this is a beautiful series illustrating the diversity of the landscape! That red-leafed tree in the first photo stands out in such stunning contrast to its audience of more subdued foliage onlookers. ~ Kat

  2. What spectacular scenery! Makes our mountains in North Wales look miniature ^_^ Having grown up on the Continent (Germany) it was strange to read *Alpine* in your title (normally associated with Germany, Austria, France or Italy over here) yet having seen your photos it makes perfect sense. What a great day you must have had!

    • I was also impressed by Snowdonia in Wales. I think the Japanese relate this to Alpine more for travel marketing purpose. Glad that you like the post Mrs. Boardwell! Regards, Michael

    • Huang Shan needs a lot of climbing. This one needs changing many transport modes, not a lot of walking; although the walk at the Kurobe lake and dam was just lovely. Thanks for the comment! Michael

  3. Some latitude you were on here … a landscape that goes from softness to brutal and unfriendly – still beautiful. Fantastic series of photo .. my favorite is the last one.

  4. Stunning, what a beautiful country. Were you cold at the top? When we were in Lucerne Switzerland, we took the train up to the outlook on top of Mt. Pilatus (2,132 meters or 7,000 feet) and returned via cable car to Lucerne, very beautiful and stunning views but I froze.

    • The snow was falling. The coldest part was in the Trolley Bus with a lot of glass window areas but not much heating. There wasn’t much wind, we felt pretty alright on the top, in the open, even though it was snowing. Thank you Booomdeeadda!

  5. Hi Michael,

    May I know what time did you travel there? I am going to Tateyama Kurobe on Nov 5th 2013. Will I still get the autumn foliage on lower plain of the route? (Kurobe dam, Bijodaira, Midagahara)? Or it will already completely covered by snow?


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