We decided to visit Kurobe Dam located in the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Kurobe Dam was constructed after extremely hard toil in the 1960’s. Tourists can only visit from the middle of April to the end of November due to the heavy snow and severe weather in the Kurobe area.
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route was opened in 1971, after improving the condition of the transport links as a result of the construction of the Kurobe Dam. Here is your quick guide to making the most of a visit to Murododaira at Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route for one day.
View of Tateyama Mountain Range
We enjoyed the landscape of the Tateyama Mountain Range, consisting of Mount Oyama (3,003m), Mount Oonanji (3,015m) and Mount Fujino Oritate (2,999m), from the Hotel Tateyama.
Sometimes, I forget Japan is a mountainous country due to living in Tokyo on the Kanto Plain. We continuously saw Tateyama Mountain from Toyama Station until arriving at Hotel Tateyama. I was impressed to arrive in the middle of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route finally after taking several complicated forms of transport.
Mirror like surface of the Mikuriga-ike Pond
Murododaira is the key station to visit the Kurobe Dam and the Tateyama Mountain Range. It is also a beautiful place for a walking trail. When we visited, we didn’t prepare any equipment for climbing mountains, but we could enjoy a walking trail at Murododaira.
A well-maintained sidewalk runs through Murododaira, so it was easy to hike without special gear for climbing except rain gear. The weather was changeable at 2,450m altitude and we had to walk in rain or foggy weather sometimes.While walking the sidewalk to see alpine plants, suddenly a millar-like pond appeared in front of us. Mikuriga-ike Pond was created by a volcanic eruption and there were no fish in it. The circumference is 630m and the depth is 15m. It took one hour to walk around the pond.
The path and guide maps were well maintained, so we had no worries to walk even in the foggy conditions. We saw reflections of the scenery of the Tateyama Mountain Range in the mirror like surface of the Mikuriga-ike Pond. It’s one of the most picturesque spots for a stroll at Murododaira.
Climbing to the Ichinokoshi Hut
We wanted to go to the top of Mt. Oyama, but we were just wearing casual summer clothes and running shoes, so we gave up to climb this time. Instead of reaching the top of Mount Oyama, we went to the Ichinokoshi Hut (2,700m) which was located in the middle of the path to Mount Oyama.
We saw many local elementary school students climbing Mount Oyama with their teachers. It’s a 4-hour round trip to the top of Mount Oyama from the Murododaira Station.
Climbing to the Ichinokoshi Hut was different from walking around the Mikuriga Pond or Midagahara on the plain boardwalk. We had to walk on the remaining snow. Rangers maintained the route well and we felt safe not to slide down into the bottom of the valley. However, the atmosphere was totally different from hiking at suburban Tokyo small mountains and it gave a greater sense of tension than usual.
Murodoyama Observation Deck
After we had climbed to the Ichinokoshi Hut, we went to the Murodoyama Observation Deck. We needed to go back to the entrance of the route to the observatory. This route was also a real mountain path with snow and steep slopes, but it was much easier to walk than hiking to the Ichinokoshi Hut.The distance to the Murodoyama Observation Deck was shorter than the way to the Ichinokoshi Hut from the Murododaira Station. The view from the deck gave a good understanding of the Murododaira area at a glance. Our kids got into snowball fights near the observatory under the summer sunshine in August. It takes about 3-4 hours to walk around the Murododaira Station. We could just stroll around for a short walk and enjoy various kinds of scenery. There are not many slopes in Murododaira, so you can really enjoy one of the highest peaks in Japan.
It’s all in the details:
Transportation: Tateyama Alpine Route
Hiking: Midagahara Hiking