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It was 5-hour journey from Shinjuku, two stops, I can barely open my eyes at the second stop even though I wanted to use toilet badly. I reached Nagano at 5am, it was so freaking cold, and the sun was yet to rise. I grabbed a sandwich for my breakfast, pray, clean up and change into a new outfit while waiting for Shinanoki Souvenir Shop to open. The Alpico Bus from Nagano to Ogizawa was scheduled to depart at 8am, and the ticket can be bought from Shinanoki.

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetShinanoki Souvenir Shop is located at the ground (1st Floor) Nagano Station at the East Exit, near to Escalator. It opens from 7.30am to 7.30pm daily

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetBus to Nagano will be at the platform 5

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetAlpico Bus, this is how the bus will look like. Platform 6 to Hakuba

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetAnother 2-hour journey from Nagano to Ogizawa, and I feel sleepy but the scenery woke me up, for the first hour, before everything went black again. ohh sleepy head

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetI change my seat to the right side of the bus for this beautiful village

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetI can relate this to a movie scene I watched few months back, 白ゆき姫殺人事件 The Snow White Murder Case

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetA friend said, the colder the place the fastest it gets to the new phase, beautiful autumn foliage

Kurobe Dam
It was 10.30am when I reached Ogizawa, low peak season, less tourists, no long queues,  I bought my one way ticket to Dentetsu Toyama Station in Toyama where I will be staying for one night. Most of the tourists that day were the local itself, Taiwanese and Thailander.

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetIf you are planning to go there during the peak season, it is best to print this out and hand it over at the counter for a faster service. Alpine Route Ticket in PDF

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetGet into the Kanden Tunnel Trolley Bus to get to the Kurobe Dam Station

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetIt says, Welcome to Damudamu-kun no Sanpomichi. 220 stairs start here. Please step up slowly. Thank you Tomo-chan for the translation.

Carrying 30L backpack was quite challenging for my small frame (my weight is less than 40kg), and when I saw these green stairs to hell haha I almost faint, and I need to climb 220 stairs to get to the Observation Deck, but once I get to the top, I told myself, if earth could be this beautiful, I can’t imagine how beautiful heaven could possibly be.

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetNo words can perfectly describe my feelings, it was a combination of aghh… it felt like I could cry rainbows, unicorns, gummy bears and all pretty and imaginable and yummy things in the world. I spent more time relaxing and enjoying the view, rather than taking photos.

DCIM100GOPRO Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetThe sun was shining, so do the windy, keep blowing, felt like a competition between them two. It reminds me of The Wind & The Sun

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetOn the other side of the Observation Deck

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetThey said the 10 tones of water discharged from this dam producing a beautiful rainbow. You can only witness it from late June to mid October, so plan your schedule wisely if you’d like to witness it!

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetI’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

DCIM100GOPRO Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetThe pro of getting to a place during low-peak season, less crowd, more chances to take photos

DCIM100GOPRO Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetThe wind was blowing hard, at this stage I feel blessed to have extra weight on my back, or the wind will blow me away

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetAt first I thought that climbed down the stairs will be lot easier, NO, it was an outer stairs, where the wind still blowing hard, I had to wait for a while. There’s a couple, the boyfriend was hysterically climbing down the stairs, he must be an Acrophobia. I did too, but not as serious as him and I told myself not to look down.

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetThe Observation Deck, there are a new observation deck for a close up view of the water discharge

DCIM100GOPRO Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetI want to eat Ice Cream but I was freezing cold, so I just sat for a while

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetI saw them trying to take a group photo, and I understand how bad you want everyone to be in the picture, so I asked them if they’d want me to take their picture. The next thing I know, I was in the photo too.

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetKurobe Dam to Kurobeko station is 15minutes walking distance, from there I travelled by Kurobe Cable Car to Kurobedaira

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetKurobe Cable Car’s driver, ummm well it is not the typical cable car we used to have, it has its own railway inside the tunnel, they should name it Tunnel Cable Car.

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetYou can exit the train station to witness the scenic mountain and botanical garden, outside the station, I opt to continue my journey to the Daikanbo Station via Tateyama Ropeway

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetAs mentioned previously, I have height fright, nothing too serious, I hate cable cars, I don’t feel safe but this is totally different. The Tateyama Ropeway was packed and I was squeezing myself near to the exit door, did I look down? Yeah. Did it scare me? No.

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Some silly conversation
Ichie: Owhhh Ju-on!!
Me: Where??
Ichie: There (pointing at the girl’s reflection)
Me: =.=”

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetTateyama Tunnel Trolley Bus to get me from to Murodo from Daikanbo

Murodo
Murodo is another heaven on earth. Trekking trails, withered grass and the peak of the Mt Tateyama set against the volcanic crater lake, Mikurigaike.

DCIM100GOPRO Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetI put on my gloves, too bad it didn’t stop me from freezing, it’s wool half-finger glove, bought it two years ago in London, because I thought it’s kinda cute, but not a good choice of gloves and the wind made it even colder.

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetTrekking trails, once you step out of the Murodo Station

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetThe lake, a dark blue lake, It feels like someone has put a magic spell on it, you can’t stop staring, despite of the cold and windy weather, I was at the edge of the lake, stood still. They said spring will be even beautiful, summer snow. But this is fine with me, a clear blue sky, fluffy white cloud, patches of green and brown summit against the dark mystic blue lake. I fall in love, again, and again.

DCIM100GOPRO Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetYou’ll find me in the forest, next to the lake 

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetMikurigaike was also known as “a kitchen pond for God” by the local

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetDo you know that you can climb up the Mt Tateyama and ski down during winter? They have few hiking courses as well. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Walking Map

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetHot Springs, you can take a bath here, even though you are not staying in the hotel

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Toyama
I took 3.15pm Tateyama Highland bus from Murodo to Bijodaira, you can choose to stop over at Midagahara or skip it. I had to skip it, I need to get to Toyama before it’s getting too dark, as I hadn’t studied the route to my hostel yet. I fall asleep, during the 50mins bus riding, but I half awake when the driver slowing down the bus at some attraction points.

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetFrom Bijodaira I took Tateyama Cable Car to Tateyama Station

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetTateyama Station

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetA small and quaint town (well actually, it was taken outside the Tateyama Station)

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetIf you travel backward, from Tateyama to Ogizawa, get your ticket here!!

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetOnce I get to Tateyama station then I realised, the next train will be at 5.26pm, ouch which means, I will only reach Toyama around 6.30pm. I wandered around, had matcha ice cream and wait patiently. The train arrived as scheduled, it’s an old-school train, ahhh vintage should be a proper word I guess, and I fall asleep again, it’s an hour journey, what else should I do?

Dentetsu Toyama Station is a train station for Toyama Chiyo Railroad, it is located near to JR Toyama Station, I walked to Toyama Station, too bad my pocket wifi, handphone and almost everything were run out of battery, and I have to depend on my ability reading the old-school map. It was 15minutes, almost 20minutes walking from the train station, it was the cheapest hostel in Toyama, so I think I shouldn’t complain much. Still, this was one of the expensive hostel for my trip (my 2-night staying in Kyoto was even cheaper)

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetI spent a night at Ryokan Kiyota. I was so happy that I own the room for myself. It was Japanese Traditional Ryokan, a little bit creepy, haha but I love it anyway. It felt like Ju-on will be crawling out from one of the sliding closet doors, luckily I was too tired and fall asleep with the TV on.

Gosh.. how many times did I fall asleep today?

Why Alpen Route is a must?
1. The only trolley bus in Japan can be found here
2. Murodo Station is the highest station in Japan (2450m)
3. The longest unsupported ropeway goes to Tateyama Ropeway
4. Highest hot spring in Japan is Mikuriga-ike Hot Spring located at Murodo
5. The beautiful Shomyo Falls is the highest waterfall in Japan
6. As known, Kurobe Dam is the highest dam in Japan, with 186m
(source: Kurobe Dam pamphlet)

Alpen Route Tips & Tricks
1. The Snow Corridor only opens from mid April to mid June
2. Instead of going to Nagano from Shinjuku, you can go to Matsumoto, and travel via JR train and local bus to Ogizawa. Highway Bus Info
3. Aghh I can’t think of any but I will keep this section up to date

Do you know that I love the smell of the grass after rain?

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3 thoughts on “Alpen Route, Heaven on Earth

  1. This was really helpful! I’m planning to make this same trip mid – late November this year. Thank you for posting with so much detail !

    Like

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