Mountains of around 3,000 meters are strung together to comprise the Tateyama Mountain Range, such as 3,015-meter Mount Onanji, 3,003-meter Mount Oyama, and 2,880-meter Mount Betsuzan. Tateyama is one of the three sacred mountains of Japan along with Mount Fuji, Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, and Mount Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture. The harsh terrain generally prevented people from reaching this area, excluding shugendo mountain ascetics and mountain climbers, until recently. In 1971, Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route was opened and it enabled ordinary tourists to tour Tateyama. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route goes through the Northern Japan Alps Mountain Range from Toyama to Nagano prefectures, with cable cars, buses, ropeway, and trolleybuses. Go to Bijodaira from Tateyama Station on the Toyama Chiho Tetsudo railway. Bijodaira is a 1,000-meters-above-sea-level plateau and has some 140 giant Japanese cedars called Tateyama-sugi which are more than six meters around. You can enjoy basking in the woods or bird watching on beautiful walking trails. Transfer to the Kogen (plateau) Bus to Murodo at 2,450 meters, and enjoy seeing Shomyo Fall, one of the largest waterfalls in Japan with a 350 meter fall, and Midagahara on the way. Hannoki Fall can be seen near Shomyo Fall in the thawing season, usually from April to July. Midagahara, a high moor at altitude 2,000 meters, is blessed with abundant alpine flora. There are walking trails in the moor. The bus cannot go to Murodo during winter due to snow cover. In mid April the road is opened to traffic. As snow removal operations proceed, 20-meter high snow walls are created on both sides of the road. Until the end of May, the majestic snow corridors called “Yuki no Otani” attract many people.
As the bus approaches Murodo, your horizons widen and the overwhelming beauty of Tateyama Mountain Range comes into view. There are walking trails around Murodo. Mikuriga-ike Pond has mysterious blue water. Mikuriga-ike Onsen is a hot spring which is located at the highest elevation of any hot spring in Japan. Rocks yellowed by sulfur and white fumarolic gas are seen in stark Jigokudani Valley. About 330 snow grouses, which are national natural treasures, live around Tateyama and especially many of them live around Murodo. Thus chances of seeing them are high. Their protective color is very different depending on seasons; in summer brown and in winter white. If you climb two hours from Murodo bus terminal, you can reach the Mine main shrine of Ozan Shrine on the top of Mount Oyama.
Tateyama trolleybus connects Murodo to Daikanbo, and runs 2,300 meters above sea level, the highest place for a bus running anywhere in the world. Daikanbo commands splendid panoramic views of the mountains. Transfer to Tateyama Ropeway and go to Kurobe-ko Station. You can also have a fine view from the ropeway. It takes 15 minutes from Kurobe-ko Station to Kurobe Dam Station by foot on the dam. Enjoying seeing Lake Kurobe and Kurobe Dam as you go. Kurobe Dam is the largest arched-dome type dam in Japan. Panoramic views of the mountains are spectacular. A trolleybus brings you from Kurobe Dam Station to Ogisawa Station, Nagano Prefecture. Change to a local bus and go to Shinano Omachi. Omachi Onsen on the way, surrounded by white birches and Buna beeches, is a hot spring resort built in 1964. Riding various types of vehicles is enjoyable enough, but walking and enjoying the sights all along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route at your own pace in a leisurely manner is highly recommended.