The BEST Ever Guide to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

by Dec 24, 2023Itinerary, Japan, Travel

One of the most unique travel experiences for me in Japan was traveling from Kanazawa to Matsumoto via the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. I could have taken a boring old train between these two cities, but by taking the Alpine Route, I was able to travel at over 2,000 meters through the Japan Alps using five modes of transportation: cable car, trolley, ropeway, bus, and train.

However, maybe you’re confused like I was before I took the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. While planning my trip to Japan, I came across loads of vague and conflicting pieces of information from different websites and books. The more I read, the more confused I got. I still had loads of questions:

  •  Is it covered in my Japan Rail pass?
  • Do I buy tickets for each leg of the journey or do I buy one ticket for all the steps?
  • Can I buy the ticket on the same day as the journey or do I need to buy it in advance?
  • How do I know where to go to take the different modes of transportation?
  • How long do I get at each stop?
  • Will I have enough time to hike around?
  • Is it even worth it?

Hopefully, this post will answer all of these questions for you so you aren’t as confused as I was before your trip to Japan.

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Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route:

COST: ¥13,820 (US$97|£77|€88) for adults and ¥6,930 (US$49|£39|€44) for children from Dentetsu-Toyama Station to Shinano-Omachi as of December 24, 2023.

Check Tateyama Kurobe website for current prices.

HOW LONG: 8 – 9 hours to complete; check timetable here

OPEN: April 15 to November 30

TIPS:  Buy snacks before your trip; start your journey before 9:00 am; layers!

Is a Japan Rail Pass Worth It?

Are you wondering whether the Japan Rail Pass is worth it?

In this guide to the Japan Rail Pass, I break down the transportation prices for each of the destinations in this Japan itinerary of 3 weeks. Then I compare them to the 2024 price of a Japan Rail Pass.

You'll also find out where and how to purchase a Japan Rail Pass, how to activate the Pass when you get to Japan, and how to use the Pass. Check out the current Japan Rail Prices from my favorite travel agency in Japan or book your pass through Klook.

How to Buy the Alpine Route Ticket

There are several ways to buy your Alpine Route ticket. Click on the link for each option to find out more details. I’ll then explain step-by-step how I bought my ticket below.

Unfortunately, you can’t use your National JR Pass on this route, but you can buy a JR Area Pass that will cover the Alpine Route.

1. Buy Alpine Route Ticket Online

You can purchase your tickets online from the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route official website.

Buying online before leaving for Japan is a good idea when it’s the busy season which is April to June. These months are when a lot of people want to see the snow corridor. When I checked on tickets in March, many of the days in April and parts of May were already sold out.

You have to register first on their website before purchasing your ticket online.

Then on the day of the tour, you still need to pick up your ticket at least 15 minutes before departure from a WEB ticket counter at the train station.

2. Buy a JR Area Pass

A really good way to buy your Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route ticket is to buy the JR Alpine-Takayama-Matsumoto Area Pass. It covers your Alpine Route ticket as well as travel on JR trains between Nagoya and Toyama and between Nagoya and Shinano Omachi. The ticket is good for 5 consecutive days.

The price is US$150.20 for adults and $75.10 for children (6-11) until September 30.

You still need to pick up your Alpine Route ticket and reserve space on the cable car on the day of you do the route.

3. Buy Alpine Route Ticket on the Same Day

You can purchase the Alpine Route tickets on the day your tour starts at these train stations:

Ticket prices vary depending on your departure and arrival points. For the route I took from Dentetsu-Toyama to Shinano-omachi, it costs ¥13,820 (US$97|£76|€89) for adults and ¥6,930 (US$49|£38|€45) for children as of July 30, 2023.

The Tateyama Kurobe website is confusing. They say tickets are only available on the day of your visit. However, a few lines after that they say the tickets are valid for 5 days after the purchase date. 

Tickets go on sale at Tateyama Station 20 minutes before the first departure and Ogizawa 40 minutes before the first departure.

Check the Tateyama Kurobe’s website for the most up-to-date information.

4. Join an Organized Tour

The easiest way to do the Alpine Route is by joining an organized tour. In this way, the tour company will take care of everything for you: buying your Alpine Route tickets, reserving the cable car ride, and getting you to the start of the route.

Here’s a tour that includes the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route:

Alpine Route Day Tour from Nagano

RATING: 4.7/5 (32 Reviews) | BOOK: Klook or Get Your Guide

  • Includes English-speaking guide
  • Alpine Route Ticket
  • Transport between Nagoya and the start/end of Alpine Route

5. Buy in Advance from a Train Station in Japan

In the past, you could buy the ticket ahead of time from certain train stations in Japan, but according to the Tateyama Kurobe website,

“Day tickets are only available on the day of your visit. There are no advance sales for day tickets.”

However, in the next line, they say this:

“The ticket is valid for 5 days after the purchase date. This is not a ‘free ride’ (unlimited travel) ticket.”

I would go to the station the day before as I did and see if you can purchase ahead of time.

If they do reinstate this option, here is what I did:

I bought my ticket the day before at the Japan Rail’s office called midori-no-madoguchi at the JR Kanazawa train station. Look for a green sign. It’s the same office where you go to make seat reservations.

Only foreigners on tourist visas could purchase tickets ahead of time, so bring your passport.

When I purchased mine, I needed to indicate the departure time for the Tateyama cable car.  I was also given a receipt and not the actual ticket. I had to exchange the receipt for the actual ticket in Toyama, which was the beginning of the route.

You could use your credit card to purchase the ticket.

Alpine Route Day Tour Itinerary

Below I’ll describe my tour to help you get an idea of what the route is like and to help you know what to do for each step.

I started in Kanazawa and did the Alpine Route from Toyama to Shinano-Omachi. You can do the tour in the opposite direction from Shinano-Omachi to Toyama or Kanazawa.

1. Kanazawa ⇒ Toyama


DEPART: 7:23 am ARRIVE: 7:46

Most people who do the Alpine Route from Toyama to Shinano-Omachi will be staying the night before in Kanazawa, so the first thing you’ll need to do is take the train from Kanazawa to Toyama.

This leg of the journey is NOT covered under the Alpine Route ticket so you’ll need to either use your JR Pass or pay for an individual ticket.

I took the Hakuta 554 train from Kanazawa JR Station leaving at 7:23 am and getting into Toyama at 7:46 am.

Hey! Check out my Kanazawa travel guide for tips and inspiration on touring Kanazawa.

2. Toyama ⇒ Tateyama


DEPART: 8:13 am ARRIVE: 9:19 am

The next part of the Alpine Route involves several steps that are vitally important. Check the Alpine Route website for more information or any changes.

Step #2.1: Change Stations in Toyama

Toyama has two train stations: JR Station and Dentetsu Station. You’ll arrive from Kanazawa at the JR Station but leave for the Alpine Route from Dentetsu Station.

To get to Dentetsu, you need to exit the JR Station. Dentetsu Station is about a 2-minute walk to your left.

Step #2.2: Get actual Alpine Route ticket in Toyama

If you bought your Alpine Route Ticket online, you’ll need to get the actual physical ticket. You can do that in Toyama or in Tateyama.

In Dentetsu Station, go to the WEB ticket machine and scan the QR code that you received when you bought your ticket online. You can also go to an Alpine Route ticket counter at Dentetsu Station to get your physical ticket. You just need your reservation number.

The Alpine Route website has a wonderful video with step-by-step instructions on what you need to do at Toyama Dentetsu Station.

If you don’t have an Alpine Route ticket yet, you can buy one a the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route ticket counter at Toyama Dentetsu Station.

Step #2.3: Arrange for the forwarding of your luggage

If you want to have your luggage delivered to the end of the Alpine Route at the Shinona-Omachi Train Station, you need to do it at Toyama Dentetus Station.

The luggage forwarding counter is near the ticket counter and the train platforms at Dentetsu. Check here for a map.

It costs ¥2,500 to have your luggage forwarded.

Check out the Alpine Route website for more detailed information on having your luggage forwarded.

Given the steep steps going in and out of the cable cars and the crowded conditions of the Alpine Route, it was well worth the price to have it delivered. I think it would have been extremely uncomfortable to carry my bags the whole way and incredibly rude to the other travelers.

Step #2.4: Take the train to Tateyama

Next, take the Toyama Chiho train to Tateyama. The train is included in your Alpine Route ticket.

My train left at 8:13 am and we got to Tateyama at 9:19.

3. Tateyama ⇒ Baijodaira


DEPART: 9:40 am ARRIVE: 9:47 am

When you get to Tateyama, follow the crowd up a flight of stairs the waiting room for the cable car to Bijodaira.

The line to get onto the cable car was already long when I got there even though it didn’t leave until 9:40 am.

The cable car was originally used to transport the people who were building the Kurobe Dam, which you will see later.

During my tour, the car was so crowded that it was impossible to see outside. I just stood and waited 7 minutes until it got to its destination.

4. Bijodaira ⇒ Midagahara


DEPART: 10:20 am ARRIVE: 10:50 am

Bijodaira is where you will catch the bus to one of two places:

  • Murodo
  • Midagahara

1. Bus to Murodo

One line was an express bus directly to Murodo, which is considered “the highlight of the Alpine Route” and where you probably want to spend most of your time.

Most people got on the bus to Murodo

2. Bus to Midagahara

The other bus was going first to a wetlands area called Midagahara before going on to Murodo.

I chose Midagahara, which unfortunately gave me less time at Murodo but allowed me to go for a walk in an area without crowds of tourists.

While I was waiting for my bus to Midagahara, several express buses to Murodo had already left. Finally, my bus left at 10:20 am and arrived at Midagahara at 10:50 am.

You can get out at Bijodaira, a stop on the way to Midagahara, and hike around the area. According to the Visitor’s Guide, there’s a primeval forest as old as 1,000 years. There are three also hiking loops: 2 km (1 hour), 2.5 km (1 hour 50 minutes), and 4 km (2 hours 30 minutes). If you do get out and hike around, though, you’ll have much less time to spend at the main spots on the route.

5. Midagahara ⇒ Murodo


DEPART: 12:10 pm ARRIVE: 12:30 pm

Midagahara is a wetlands area at 2,000 meters above sea level. In the fall, it’s filled with the colors of the foliage, and in the spring with the colors of the blooming flowers. Ponds will also have formed from the melted snow. I didn’t see any of that when I was up there.

Before you start looking around Midagahara, go inside the small building where the bus just dropped you off and reserve a seat on the next bus to Murodo.

I chose to leave at 12:10 pm. Buses were leaving every 40 minutes. The guy who ran things at Midagahara was pretty adamant that people reserved a seat.

The building also had lockers and restrooms. There were two bland-looking hotels at Midigahara as well. I didn’t see a convenience store or any restaurants, but there could have been a restaurant in the hotels.

According to the Visitor’s Guide, there are three easy hiking options:

1. Boardwalk short loop: 1 kilometer (40 minutes) a boardwalk through the wetlands

2. Boardwalk long loop: 2 kilometers (1 hour 20 minutes) a boardwalk through the wetlands

3. Tateyama caldera viewpoint: a hike to an overlook of a caldera (20 minutes to the caldera and 15 minutes back).

I took the short 1-kilometer hike. It was a fairly easy hike along a boardwalk through the wetlands.

In the spring, there is more water, but when I was there it was quite dry. The gorgeous views of the valley and surrounding mountains were like being in a sea of green. Another nice thing was that there were very few other tourists around, so it was peaceful.

Catch the bus to Murodo at the same place you were dropped off at.

The bus ride up to Murodo had probably the most stunning views of the whole Alpine Route, BUT you must be sitting on the left side of the bus to really be able to see the views clearly.

The bus arrived in Murodo 20 minutes later at 12:30 pm.

6. Murodo ⇒ Daikanbo


DEPART: 2:15 pm ARRIVE: 2:25 pm

Murodo is the main attraction and the highest point of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. It’s situated at 2,450 meters and surrounded by several mountain peaks at over 3,000 meters. Without many trees, it felt quite barren.

Murodo doesn’t have a lot of trees, so it felt quite barren. It was aslo incredibly windy.

The bus arrived at Murodo Terminal at 12:30.

Inside the terminal, there were a couple of restaurants and a souvenir shop. There weren’t a lot of options for snack food, however. I bought some delicious steamed buns with meat inside for ¥500 (US$4.51) each from a food cart. Pricey, but as I said, my other option was to eat at a restaurant, and I didn’t really have time to do that.

Murodo also has a hotel and several “huts” as well as a hot spring.

There was still snow in the mountains in August. In winter, this area gets some of the largest amounts of snow in Japan. However, everything was mostly green.

The central landmark of Murodo is a pond surrounded by the peaks of the tallest mountains on the Alpine Route. It’s quite beautiful but windy as heck.

According to the Visitor’s Guide, there are five “hiking” trails that traverse the pond and mountains:

 1. Mikurigaike pond – Easy – 600 meters in 30 minutes – This is a hike/walk along a boardwalk to the pond from the bus terminal and back.

2. Mikurigaike pond loop – Easy – 1.7 km in 1 hour – This is a hike around the pond.

3. Raichozawa return – Medium – 2.4 km in 2 hours 30 minutes – This is a hike along one side of the pond to the hot springs and to a lookout point over the Valley of Hell (Jigokudani).

4. Mount Murodo viewpoint – Medium – 2 km in 2 hrs 30 min. – This is a hike to a viewpoint and what looks to be up part of a mountain.

5. Climbing Mount Tateyama- Difficult – 2.5 km in 4 hours – This is a hike to Mount Oyama at 3,003 meters.

 I did part of the Raichozawa return hike. The views were nice, but there were lots of other tourists. The hike ended at the building (it could have been the hot springs) on the left-hand side in the above photo. The building had a shop that served ice cream.

While on the hike, I could see into the Valley of Hell, a valley containing noxious volcanic gases.

Take into consideration the time it will take you to do these hikes. If you really want to spend more time at Murodo and/or do the Mount Murodo viewpoint hike or visit the hot springs, then you’ll need to skip Midigahara. When I was there, the last trolley bus out of Murodo left at 4:30 pm.

To find out how to get to the next leg of the Alpine Route, Daikonbo, look for a green sign with a departure time on it and say “for Daikonbo.”

Stand in the line for Daikonbo. The line I was in for the 2:15 bus wasn’t very long. The next trolley would have left at 2:45.

The trolley bus took 10 minutes to go through Mount Tateyama. We popped out on the other side of the mountain at Daikonbo at 2:25 pm.

7. Daikonbo ⇒ Kurobedaira


DEPART: 2:40 pm ARRIVE: 2:47 pm

Daikonbo is a transfer point for the ropeway down to Kurobedaira.

There’s a viewing platform where you can look out over the valley, but that’s about it.

When you get out at Daikonbo, just follow the green signs to the ropeway. The green signs go toward Shinano-Omachi and the blue signs go toward Toyama.

The signage on the Alpine Route makes it super easy to do for someone who’s always getting lost.

Daikonbo is a great place to stop for photos of the Japan Alps, a lake formed by the Kurobe Dam, and a Ropeway.

I took the ropeway at 2:40 and it arrived at Kurobedaira at 2:47. 

The views from the ropeway were some of the best of the Alpine Route day tour. 

8. Kurobedaira ⇒ Kurobeko (Kurobe Dam)


DEPART: 3:00 pm ARRIVE: 3:05 pm

Kurobedaira is the place where you transfer from the ropeway to the cable car that will take you down to Kurobeko.

There’s a viewing platform and a place to eat.

The cable car to Kurobeko took 5 minutes, leaving at 3:00 and arriving at 3:05. Like the cable car that I took earlier, I couldn’t see anything outside, and it was terribly crowded.

Check Out These Popular Tours in Japan

9. Kurobeko ⇒ Kurobe Dam ⇒ Ogizawa

TRANSPORT TO OGIZAWA: by foot and trolley bus

DEPART: 3:35 pm ARRIVE: 3:51 pm

The Kurobe Dam is similar in importance to the Japanese as the Hoover Dam is to Americans. It’s Japan’s tallest arch dam.

When you get off the cable car, walk through a tunnel.

Upon exiting the tunnel, I found myself outside on a pedestrian bridge that crossed over the dam and the same lake I had seen from the ropeway.

Kurobe Lake was created by the dam.

Even though the clouds looked ominous, it never rained until after I had finished the route.

The lake was to my right side, while mountains and a valley covered in trees were to my left side.

On the other side of the dam, go through a tunnel to get to a trolley bus.

After going through the tunnel, I had to get in line and wait over 10 ten minutes for the trolley bus to Ogizawa. You can see that the space is small and there are lots of people waiting. Don’t worry! There are tons of buses, so if one bus fills up, there are others to take.

The trolley bus takes a little over 15 minutes to go through a tunnel to the other side of the mountain at Ogizawa.

10. Ogizawa ⇒ Shinano-Omachi


DEPART: 4:00 pm  ARRIVE: 4:35 pm

There’s not a lot to do at Ogizawa–just a large parking lot and a place to get some food and drink.

In Ogizawa, get on a bus going to Shinano-Omachi. I got on at 4:00 pm. Because I bought the OPTION TICKET the day before, the ride to Shinano-Omachi was free. If I had bought a same-day ticket, I would have had to pay extra for the bus ride.

The bus made one stop at Omachi-Onsen before reaching Shinano-Omachi at 4:35 pm. Some buses go on to Nagano.

11.  Shinano-Omachi ⇒ Matsumoto


DEPART: 5:15 pm ARRIVE: 6:15 pm

Shinano-Omachi is the transfer point for other destinations in Japan. You can take a train to Hakuba or Matsumoto. Hakuba is supposed to be a good place for hiking.

The bus dropped me off a little bit to the right of the train station. The luggage pick-up spot is to the left of the station. There’s a sign in English outside a building indicating it’s where you deliver and pick up luggage, so it’s easy to spot. Also, the building is more formal than what I experienced in Toyama.

The train station in Shinano-Omachi is very small. There are only 4 tracks.

The Alpine Route ticket ends here. You can use your JR Pass or buy individual tickets.

I waited about 45 minutes for the train to Matsumoto, which left from track 3.

When I first got on the train, it was pretty much empty. But the train stopped at every single station and gradually filled up until it was packed with commuters going home from work. The view from the train window was some of the most beautiful rural scenery I saw in Japan. Mountains upon mountains with bright green rice fields and traditional Japanese homes and shops.

When to Do the Alpine Route

The most popular times to do the Alpine Route is spring and fall.

Spring (April – June)

This is the time when people flock to see the snow corridor. If you don’t know what I mean, check out these pictures of the snow corridor here or search for the Alpine Route snow corridor. The Japan Alps gets a lot of snow. In the spring, it’s possible to plow a pathway through the snow turning the roads into a corridor with snow piled on each side as high as 18 meters. It’s possible that the route is closed due to bad weather, which means you’re out of luck. The Alpine Route website recommends going in June because the snow corridor is still at 10 meters high, there are fewer tourists, and the weather is more predictable.

Summer (July – August)

In the summer, you can still see a little bit of snow. But generally, everything is very green. It’s a good time to go hiking.

Fall (September – November)

The Alpine Route is a great time to see the fall foliage. The leaves start turning color first at the top of the mountain in September and then the further down you go, the leaves start turning later in the season in October. It makes for an interesting sight when you look down from the top to see the upper half red and yellow and the lower part still green.

Winter (Dec – April)

The route is closed from December 1 to April 9.

What to Wear

When I was there in August, I wore my fleece and windbreaker over a short-sleeved shirt and pants. I took it off and put it on again continuously as the temperature changed throughout the day. It was extremely windy.

At other times of the year, visit the Alpine Route’s official website to find out what to wear for each season on the Alpine Route.

Where to stay in Kanazawa

The hotel I stayed at in Kanazawa has closed down, but I found a boatload of alternatives at all price points.

Prices don’t include tax and are what a Genius level 3 member of would pay for the cheapest room.

I always book a place to stay on either or Agoda.

Budget Accommodations in Kanazawa

I found so many good budget options that I had a hard time finding just one place that I would stay at, so I listed all three.

1. Guest House Pongyi

AVERAGE PRICE: US$24/dorm | BREAKFAST: Not included | RATING: 9.5 (55+ Reviews)

  • Traditional Japanese-style house that is still very comfortable
  • Warm and friendly atmosphere
  • Kind, welcoming, and knowledgeable owners
  • Access to washing machine and kitchenette
  • Staying here is perfect for those looking for Japanese culture on a tight budget


2. Kanazawa Guesthouse Stella

LOWEST PRICE: US$27 | BREAKFAST: Not included | RATING: 9.2 (63+ Reviews)

  • Located right next to the historic geisha district—Higashi Chaya
  • The guesthouse has private rooms with shared bath for only US$27—what a deal!
  • Owners are friendly and knowledgeable
  • Free coffee and tea
  • Staying here is perfect for those on a budget who don’t want to do a dorm room


3. Machiya Guesthouse Carta

AVERAGE PRICE: US$46 - $66 | BREAKFAST: included | RATING: 9.6 (65+ Reviews)

  • Beautiful traditional Japanese-style guesthouse with modern touches
  • Lots of history and culture
  • 15-minute walk from Kenrokuen Gardens
  • Shared bathroom, shared kitchen, shared lounge
  • Japanese-style garden
  • Japanese-style rooms with tatami mats
  • Very kind owners
  • Staying here is perfect for those looking for Japanese culture on a budget


Mid-Priced Accommodations in Kanazawa

Kanazawa has a few comfortable mid-priced hotels around the train station and within walking distance of the gardens.

4. Hotel Kanazawa Zoushi

AVERAGE PRICE: US$122 - $163 | BREAKFAST: Included | RATING: 9.4 (119+ Reviews)

  • Newer hotel with both traditional and modern features
  • near Omichi Market
  • Very stylish and cozy
  • Includes a Japanese-style breakfast
  • Comfy beds


Luxury Accommodations in Kanazawa

Kanazawa has lots of traditional Japanese-style homes to rent that are stunningly beautiful.

5. Kanazawa Machiya Kenroku

AVERAGE PRICE: US$250 | BREAKFAST: Not Included | RATING: 9.7 (40+ Reviews)

  • Traditional Japanese-style samurai house with modern conveniences and comforts
  • 3-bedroom villa
  • Perfect for family or group who wants a traditional Japanese cultural experience


6. Maki No Oto Kanazawa

AVERAGE PRICE: US$420 | BREAKFAST: Included | RATING: 9.5 (6+ Reviews)

  • This traditional Japanese-style hotel is located in the heart of the historic geisha neighborhood—Higashi Chaya
  • Modern comforts and conveniences
  • Garden, terrace, restaurant, spa


Where to Stay in Matsumoto

I recommend staying around the train station for convenience.

The prices I list here are what a Genius Level 3 member would get for the cheapest room.

I usually use either or Agoda to book my hotels in Japan.

Matsumoto doesn’t have as many good options as Kanazawa does, but here are my recommendations based on my experience and research:

Budget Accommodations in Matsumoto

Here are some popular and convenient places to stay in Matsumoto for those on a budget.

1. Hotel M Matsumoto

AVERAGE PRICE: US$21 | BREAKFAST: Not Included | RATING: 8.0 (1,392+ Reviews)

  • I stayed here during my trip to Matsumoto and really liked it.
  • Clean and comfortable
  • Great location
  • Lots of amenities
  • Superior capsules come with your own small room with a desk and locker


2. Couch Potato Hostel

AVERAGE PRICE: US$32/dorm; US$70/private room | BREAKFAST: Not included | RATING: 9.5 (186+ Reviews)

  • This hostel gets great reviews
  • Friendly and social vibe
  • Close to castle but far from train station
  • Has both dorm and private rooms
  • Very comfortable


Mid- to Upper-Range Accommodations in Matsumoto

There aren’t that many highly-rated hotels in Matsumoto.

3. Dormy Inn Matsumoto

AVERAGE PRICE: US$63 | BREAKFAST: Not Included | RATING: 8.3 (440+ Reviews)

  • Chain hotel found all over Japan
  • Has onsen and sauna
  • Clean and comfortable
  • Good location not far from train station
  • I’ve stayed in Dormy Inn hotels and have been more than happy with them


4. Onyado Nono Matsumoto Natural Hot Spring

AVERAGE PRICE: US$120 | BREAKFAST: Not included | RATING: 9.0 (450+ Reviews)

  • Comes with a Japanese onsen (hot springs)
  • Rooms have views of the city and mountains
  • Good location—6-minute walk from train station
  • Comfortable and modern conveniences


Where to get more information

Final Thoughts: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

I hope you have found this Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route day tour itinerary useful. It’s a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed!

Just make sure to leave Toyama before 9:00 am to give you enough time to do some hiking around Murodo. Plus! Bring snacks with you to save time and money.

The prices, exchange rates, and times listed here are the ones as of July 30, 2023. They are meant to give you an idea of approximately how much you will need to spend and how long it will take you to visit each place. Since things change, please double-check the information on the websites I have provided.

Thank you! I hope you have an amazing trip to Japan!

For more guides and itineraries on Japan, check out my Japan travel guide page.

Best Resources for Your Trip to Japan

Book Your Flights for Japan

Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Japan. They will turn up results for all airlines including major ones and local airlines. You’re going to find EVERYTHING that’s available and thus get the cheapest price.

Book Your Accommodations for Japan:

The best hotel booking sites for Japan are and Agoda. They have the biggest selection, and they consistently churn out hotels and hostels at the lowest prices of any other booking site. Another website for backpackers and budget travelers is Hostel World.

Book Your Tours for Japan:

The three best tour booking sites for Japan are Viator, Get Your Guide, and Klook. Viator has the biggest selection. Get Your Guide has terrific customer service. Klook specializes in tours in Asia.

Get Connected when in Japan:

You’ve got 3 options for staying connected in Japan: a pocket WiFi (what I used), a physical SIM card, or an eSIM. Several companies offer eSIMs for Japan. I recommend getting one through Klook or Airalo.

Book your Japan Rail Passes:

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Get Your Rail Pass for Tokyo

Get an unlimited train pass for most metro lines in Tokyo. They’re good for 1, 2, or 3 days. I always get the 3-day pass.

mountains with autumn foliage on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
snow-capped mountain with lake in foreground on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route


  1. Thanks for this useful summary but there is an error, which we know about well as we have been in business here for 5 years – you said; “Shinano-Omachi is only the transfer point for other destinations in Japan. You can take a train to Hakuba.”. This is analogous to saying “Los Angeles is just the gateway to other parts of California – you can take a train from LA to Orange County.” There, in fact LA is the much larger place and here Omachi itself is the biggest drawcard of them all Omachi is TRIPLE the size of Hakuba – Omachi is a city of 30,000 with 4 supermarkets, 5 or 6 schools, a hospital etc – whereas Hakuba is just a village of under 10,000 with just 2 supermarkets and no hospital. The Alpine Route is only PART of Omachi – but there is plenty more in Omachi – there is more hiking and climbing in Omachi than in Hakuba. (Hakuba is the winter ski mecca though). Guests often stay in Omachi 4 or 5 DAYS to fully sample it – here is an album of quick video snippets showcasing Omachi. It is best to base in Omachi for 4 or 5 days and take all this in, including 1 day allocated to The Alpine Route – either returning to Omachi the same day, or making The Alpine Route the final day here and the departure leg – moving on to Toyama (or vice versa – arriving via The Alpine Route from Toyama into Omachi and then staying in Omachi for 4 or 5 days, then moving on to Matsumoto for 1 day to see Japan’s oldest castle, and then on to Kamikochi area for another 4 or so days. Hope this correction helps anyone planning to stay in this beautiful area. Thanks again to the author for writing about The Alpine Route. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for this information! I will definitely changes to this post. Sadly, Lonely Planet and most other guidebooks and blogs in English don’t say much about Shinano-Omachi. They only mention Hakuba.

  2. Omachi showcase videos —

  3. Hmm, seems the Akismet spam prevention is overactive?

    • Thank you for the videos!

  4. You’re welcome. Yes the reason is because many Australians live in Hakuba for the ski season – that’s why there is plenty of English information about it. But Omachi is actually the much bigger place – Hakuba is a “mura” (village). Omachi is a “shi” – (city). They are adjacent counties anyway (ie. sharing a borderline) – like L.A. County and Orange County. Feel free to delete any double posts i made – it seems the video link wasn’t sticking so i retried 3 times and so may have ended up making superfluous posts – apologies.

  5. Great blog! Do you know if the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Option Ticket can be purchased earlier than 5 days ahead of time?

    • Hi Gisela! Thank you! Yes, you can buy the ticket more than five days before as long as you buy it online. Check out the section of my article on How to Buy the Alpine Route Ticket and option #2.

  6. Hello – this is an extremely helpful post. Most of the others I found tend to cover the Nagano-Toyama route instead of the other way round. Thanks for this!

    I have a question on using the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Option Ticket. From the post it seems that the ticket covers all the transportation on the route in terms of fares, but reservations may still be required.

    Are you able to share a bit more on the following?:
    i) Which portions of the route require reservation? I think the post mentions that the bus from Midagahara to Murodo needed a reservation, but were there any others?
    ii) How does the system work once you have the option ticket? Do you simply show it to the staff at the stations and they will let you board?

    Thanks very much in advance. Cheers!

    • Hi JY, Thank you! No reservations are needed on the route. I reserved the train ride from Kanazawa to Toyoma (you don’t need to, but I like to reserve because then I can confirm which platform the train is leaving from), which is not covered in the Alpine Route ticket BUT is covered under my JR Rail Pass.

      I also had to indicate the departure time for the Tateyama cable car when I purchased the Alpine Route ticket.

      The other reservation was when I arrived in Midigahara, I had to go to this little hut (where the bus drops you off) and go to this old guy with a clipboard. He had a list of bus departure times for Murodo. I had to choose a departure time with him to reserve a spot on the bus. I remember one family didn’t do this and when they tried to get on the bus, he seemed upset but he let them on anyway (it wasn’t full). I think he was upset because the family just messed up the guy’s system. Japan is super efficient and they have a system to keep everything running smoothly. They don’t like it when people screw it up.

      Other than those three times I needed to reserve a departure time, you just show the ticket to the staff whenever you want to board a bus, trolley, cable car, etc. If the bus or ropeway is full, you wait for the next one. Everything leaves at specific times and in Kanazawa, you can get a schedule that has all the arrival and departure times for each leg of the journey.

      I hope this helps!


  7. Hi Julie

    We would like to add Nagoro scarecrow village within your itinerary, do you know how we could do this please?

  8. Hii, i found your post and it is very helpful. Just wondering if the Option Ticket mentioned above are still available now? I tried searching for it on the Alpine route website but the only thing that i’ve found is the information about the purchase. If there’s no more Option Ticket, is it better for me to purchase Day Ticket one day prior to the departure date at JR Kanazawa Station?

    • Hi Evelyn, Do you mean that the option tickets are all sold out? You could try buying them at the train station in Japan, but I’m not sure if you can buy them the day before anymore. I would at least try buying them on the day you want to do the Route and if they’re all sold out, have a Plan B.

  9. Hello Julie, Can’t wait for our trip! We were inspired by and are following your itinerary for our upcoming trip to Japan in May. We are unsure about the luggage transfer info that is posted for the Alpine Route. On the Baggage Forwarding website link you gave, it indicates that the “first train is 10am”. I am hoping that we can deposit our luggage with them earlier than that, and assume that “first train” just means that the batch of luggage starts en route to Omachi at that time? It is very confusing at this point. We want to leave for Tateyama on the 8am-ish train and would deposit luggage before that time. Are we ok to do that? Thanks.

    • Hi Christa,
      Yes, the info on their website about baggage transfer is confusing.

      I think the 10:00 am means that you need to drop it off by 10:00 am because 10:00 am is the time that the train that carries the baggage is departing. So, you should be ok if you take the 8:00 am-ish train.

  10. Hi,
    Would like to ask the best way to split this route into 2 days.
    Where to stay iat night.
    Arriving from Kanazawa on October 2024

    • Hi Gila, I recall there being 2 places along the route with hotels: Murodo and Midagahara.


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Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.


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