Yuki-no-Otani (Snow Canyon) and Beyond at the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Originally written for the Vol.5-No.3 edition (May 13, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a world-class mountain tourism destination, where visitors can enjoy the “Japan Alps” and the Tateyama Mountain Range through eight modes of transportation such as cable car and ropeway. Snow removal operations began in February, and the full route opened to the public this season on April 16th.

After the especially cold winter this year, there was 8.7 meters (28 1/2 ft.) of snow as of March 28th – 1.2 meters (4 ft.) more than at the same time the previous year. After snow plowing, the wall of snow can reach 20 meters (65 ft.)!

The spring highlight here is the “Yuki-no-Otani Walk.” Now in its 18th year, it will be open through May 31st. Visitors can walk along the walls of snow for a 500-meter (1/3 mi.) stretch, taking in the sharp contrast between the pure white snow and the blue sky. The scale of the snow is magnificent; it makes the buses look small in comparison. Incredibly, over 10 meters (33 ft.) of snow lasts into June.

The full route of the current Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route first opened on June 1st, 1971. In commemoration of the 40th anniversary this year, various special events and offers will be available.

Summer events will continue to lure nature-seekers after the snow has melted. From July 23rd to August 7th will be the “Tanabata Festival at the Station Nearest the Stars.” Tanabata is a star festival celebrated throughout Japan, but participating in the festivities at an elevation of 2,450 meters (8,038 ft.) seems like an especially suitable place to contemplate the stars.

A major appeal of Tateyama is, of course, the hiking. There will be opportunities for guided hikes on July 23rd and 24th and on August 27th and 28th. The July hikes will have three different routes to choose from that take only a few hours each, while the August hikes will be more rigorous and take 4 1/2 to 5 hours. For all these hikes, participants will receive commemorative 40th anniversary gloves.

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is undoubtedly Toyama’s biggest tourist attraction, with a wealth of features to enjoy through most of the year.

Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now