Monday, April 30, 2018

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route - Amazing Snow Wall in Japan

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The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, which is accessible from different prefectures, is known as the “Roof of Japan”. The entire route is 90km long, and it's not open throughout the year. There are many beautiful and breathtaking sights along the way. You can even stay at one of the hotels, if you're interested. In April, the roads up Mount Tateyama(which experiences some of the heaviest snowfalls in the world) are cleared and a snow canyon is, hence, formed. The majestic snow wall, which draws thousands of visitors who are willing to brave the long journey, is only open from mid April to mid June. Our journey from Takayama to the snow canyon took about 5 hours, and involved train rides, cable car rides and bus rides. The route closes pretty early so be sure to get here as early as possible so that you can spend ample time here.

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From Takayama, we took a train to JR Toyama Station. We deposited our luggage there, changed into jeans, and brought our coats with us. Make sure you check the train ride properly. We didn't know that we needed to change train midway, so we were both sleeping when the train master woke us up and told us that we have to get off and catch the train at the station immediately. It turned out that the train that was moving away from the station was the last train for the day, and we would have been stranded in the middle of nowhere if we missed it! We were shocked and in a daze when the train master chased after the train to stop it and we managed to get on, causing a significant delay. We were so thankful!

From JR Toyama Station, we walked to Dentetsu Toyama Station, and took a train to Tateyama Station, where we purchased a cable car ticket and ticket to the alpine route. We took the Tateyama cable car, which brought us to Bijodaira. and hopped on a Tateyama Highland bus which brought us to Murodo.

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The photos above are taken from inside the bus, as we were making our way to the snow wall.

We arrived at about 3pm in the afternoon and were really afraid that it was going to be insanely cold. To our surprise, it was actually pretty warm as the sun was blazing hot.
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"Yuki-no-Otani" Snow Wall Walk

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There's a snow maze where you can explore, and "write" something on the walls.

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Here's a photo of us at the highest point of the snow wall! We probably were the last batch of visitors who managed to go through the snow maze and do the snow wall walk. Shortly after, they closed the entire road and the maze. Once again, make sure you get here as early as possible, preferably before 2pm!

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We went into the building, which granted us access to more snow and stunning views.

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We took a slow walk around and built our snowman, Ted. Remember to bring along your shades as the sun glare is terrible and it might give you a really bad headache.

After spending about an hour playing in the snow, we went to the cafe in the building and had some food and drinks. We then made our way to Tokyo which took about 5 - 6 hours. 

There are so many things to see and do along the way — Mikurigaike, Mikurigaike Hot Spring, Emmadai, Chinoike, Tateyama Murodo, Tateyama Nature Conservation Center, Jigokudani, Mt. Murodo View Point Course and more. So, I'll recommend that you stay a night or two so as to make the arduous journey here worth the while.

We wished that we had arrived at the snow wall earlier, but we were really glad to be able to catch the snow wall during our time in Japan! It's definitely one of the most memorable once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

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Love, K

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