Tateyama Alpine Route
Corridors of snow
Saturday 18 April 2015
Yet another early start to catch the first train north from Shiojiri. This got me to Omachi for around 8am where I locked my bike up near the station, leaving all but my most valuable luggage behind with it. I'd been in Japan long enough to realise theft is all but unheard of here.

From Omachi, I took the (expensive) shuttle bus to Ogizawa, the starting point for the Tateyama Alpine Route.

The Alpine route is a tourist attraction that traverses the 37km from one side of the Hida mountain range to the other. In order to travel the entire length, one must utilise no less than 5 distinct modes of transport including funicular, trolleybus and an aerial tramway. I was only travelling half the route from the east side, then returning to the same end later in the day.
An electric bus starts the journey, taking us through a tunnel to the Kurobe Dam. This has to be crossed on foot before hopping on an underground funicular, then a dramatic aerial tramway. Another short underground trolleybus and we'd arrived at Murodou station (2,500m) and the highlight of the route.

As I stepped out at Murodou the sun was breaking through the early morning mist and the sky turning blue. The snow corridor section is every bit as spectacular as I'd hoped it would be, with walls of snow up to 20m high on either side of the road. After half an hour wandering through and taking photos I decided I was as close to freezing as I was prepared to get and headed back indoors for some food.
In the afternoon, I did the route in reverse to end up back at Omachi station just after 3pm, relieved if not surprised to find my bike and luggage just as I'd left them. I stayed the night at K's house Hakuba, a few stops further up the line and had an amazing Japanese / Italian pizza at a small pub in the village.