Toyama 富山市 is a small town located in the Chubu region, on central Honshu. While preparing for my itinerary few months back before the trip, I’ve included Kurobe Gorge or also known as Kurobe Kyokoku in Toyama as one of my must visit places in Japan. A fun Torokko Electric Train rides across the scenic scenery, between the mountains.
It was an hour and 15 minutes train rides from Toyama (town). I woke up early to catch the train from JR Toyama Station to Namerikawa, then transferred to Chiyo Railway Line to get to the Unazuki Onsen Station. As an alternative, you can travel from JR Toyama Station to JR Uozu then walk for 15minutes to the Shin-Uozu Station (Chiyo Railway Line), cheaper than the first route, but I was quite concerned about the timing and train schedule at the Kurobe Kyokoku, so I preferred the first option. You can always refer Hyperdia‘s train schedule for a smooth journey while in Japan.
It was raining when I reached Unazuki Onsen Station. Exiting the station, turned right and walked about 5 minutes to the Unazuki Station, the first station for an hour Torokko Electric Train ride through nature. I bought a ticket from Unazuki Station to Kanetsuri Station, and skipped Keyakidaira Station (I didn’t have enough time to complete the route). The fare was ￥2420 return, go to this link for more info on the train schedule, fare or anything you’d love to know about Kurobe Kyokoku (Gorge)
Kurobe Kyokoku Tips.
1. Choose a seat on the right of the train (the one near to the platform), as most of the scenery can be seen clearly from here. I was lucky enough to get that seat.
2. Get your camera ready most of the time, however there will be announcement when you are reaching attractions spots, they will say something like this, “minasan~ get your camera ready” the announcement will be in Japanese, but whenever you heard CAMERA, it’s a hint! They even stop for a while so you can get a chance to take some photos
3. There are three types of trains, regular passenger train (open air, and the cheapest), relax passenger trains (covered by window glass) and special passenger trains (the most expensive, and covered by window glass) and I personally will choose the regular train, not just because it’s cheaper, but you are able to take photos without any reflection of the window glass
I came up with a plan, to do video recording for the outbound journey and taking photos later, on my way back to Unazuki Station. So I set up my GoPro, hold it tight and tearfully enjoy the beauty of nature. There will be few pit stops all along the journey, but they will only allow you to depart at these three main stations, Kuronagi (only if you want to go to Kuronagi Onsen), Kanetsuri and Keyakidaira (last station).
I was alone, the other group went to I-don’t-know-where, it was still raining and a little bit slippery, then I met this uncle, he can speak English fluently. He told me about the Onsen, we talked for a while before I went down to the Onsen myself and took some photos, umm no I wasn’t going to take a bath haha. To be honest, I wanted to but I never tried the Onsen yet, being a Malay, taking off your clothes and being seen by others (although from the same gender) is kinda embarrassing, and private Onsen? I was pretty sure it will ripped off all my money, maybe next time.
An hour later I rushed back to Unazuki Onsen, this time was even luckier, I had the whole wagon for myself and I started to take photos in a moving train, it didn’t stop for us to take photos anymore (it explained the blurry shot I’ve taken)
It was still raining (heavily) when I get off the Kurobe Kyokoku’s train, the weather was getting colder, even though I wore three layers, inner wear, my long top, and my so called winter coat. I rushed to the Unazuki Onsen Station, bought the ticket to Shin-Uozu Station, I pray hard, to be able to get to the Takaoka Station before 4pm, to catch the last bus to Suganuma (my next destination, and to where my hostel was located).
While waiting for the train to Toyama-Takaoka, I once again met an aunty, that I met earlier at Kanetsuri, the one that insisted to help me take photos. We had a little chit chat, despite of my poor Nihon-go pronunciation and lack of vocabulary, we still be able to have a fun conversation. Oh! I didn’t take any photos with her, she politely said no when I want to take her photos earlier, so I have no guts to ask for the second time. Before I left, I hugged her goodbye, and she said, お気をつけて、いってらっしゃい, simply means, take care.
Train rides from Uozu Station to Toyama Station took about half an hour, then transit to the other train to get to Takaoka Station, for another 20minutes. Once I get to the Takaoka Station, I told myself, there’s no room for mistakes, and there’s no plan B, and I must get into the bus to Suganuma no matter what. Get the bus schedule from Takaoka to Suganuma/Gokayama/Shirakawago here.
At this time, out of no where I seem to understand what the ticketing lady told me when I asked her where can I get a bus ticket to Suganuma. The bus ticket, need not to be purchase in advance, you need to get that ‘ticket’ while you get into the bus (honestly, I still don’t really understand how it works, I’ll explain further later) So, continue with the ticketing lady, she then pointed out where can I get the bus, and yeah I said thank you and run to where she pointed and….I couldn’t find the right bus. Imagine I run from one corner to the other corner with my 30L bag pack. Later, the lady run towards me, keep saying sorry for not guiding me to the bus as what she supposed to do, and showed me where the bus was, told the bus driver to drop me off at Suganuma. Relieved. I didn’t get a chance to thank that lady properly haha.
And yeah about the bus ticket, once you get into the bus you need to get a ‘ticket’ (is actually a white paper ahhh I didn’t take any photo for reference, with a number printed out on that paper. Then you see there’s a tv screen, displayed number and bus fare, I guess, once you get to your destination, your number with the fare amount will be shown and you need to pay the same amount shown, I guess. I don’t really know actually how it works, but how do I know how much do I need to pay for my bus ride? I googled and listed down everything.
It was getting dark when I almost reach Suganuma, it was really dark actually, and I had to walk like 10 to 15 minutes (or might be less, because I was freaking out) to get to the Gassho Hostel, for a night stay. Passed through a tunnel, it felt like Japanese Horror Movie, all I can imagine was Sadako (from Japanese Movie, Ring) coming out and crawled towards me haha!! I almost cry haha, but again I told myself, a U-TURN wouldn’t change anything, I will not gonna get any bus to the town anymore. Be brave was the only option left, so I kept on walking in the dark, thank God I brought my mini torchlight with me, I finally arrived at Gassho Hostel, and Kyoko-san, the manager was making a vegetable soup for the so-called night’s party.
I met new friends from Hong Kong, Spain and Thailand. It was great to share opinions, and we didn’t realise it was already 11pm (curfew!) and we had to say goodnight and back to our own room, and I slept under the Kotatsu (for the first time of my life), because it was so cold and it kept me warm throughout the night, and I slept soundly.
Wonder why there’s no photos after the Kurobe Kyokoku’s post? again, all my devices run out of battery, and I only saved my phone’s battery for Suganuma because the Gassho Hostel’s map was saved in my phone (which the battery only left 10% when I reached Suganuma)
I’d love to be alone while writing so I can pour all my emotion into it.