Kurobe Dam is one of my dream destinations where I wished to visit with my family in summer. Thanks to the Toyama Shinkansen bullet train to Toyama, we could easily visit there. I grew up while hearing a story of Kurobe Dam and how difficult it was to build. I wanted to experience and feel the scale of the Kurobe Dam and to know why it was difficult to construct. We bought a documentary video of the Kurobe Dam construction and researched about the dam with my kids beforehand.
Kurobe Dam is situated at an altitude of 1,500m and at a height of 186m it is the tallest dam in Japan. In the sudden economic boom following WWⅡ, the Kansai area, in the western part of Japan, faced a severe energy shortage. To generate additional electricity, the government invested in hydroelectric power. 10 million people worked on the dam during the 7-year construction period.
After taking long and complicated transport links, we arrived at the Kurobe Dam finally. While walking through the dark tunnel to reach the edge of the Kurobe Dam, the scenery of the Kurobe Dam appeared suddenly. We walked along the sidewalk and reached discharging water. It was an overwhelming experience to see a large amount of water flowing from the top of the start point. The discharging flow sprayed water to wet our faces. Behind the fall, we saw the huge Kurobe Lake surrounded by green mountains. The lake was the origin of the fall when it is full of water.
We saw impressive plumes of high pressure water being discharged from the dam. 10 tons of water shoot out every second. Drones or Helicopters were needed to take realistic and vivid photos of the huge Kurobe Dam. I tried to take photos by my phone and Single-lens reflex camera, but it was hard to capture the whole structure.
When we visited the Kurobe Dam, Kanden Electric Power Company’s staff were gathering logs to prevent them flowing into the dam’s intake. Kurobe River Forth Power Plant is located 10 km downstream and the difference of altitude of 545m enables the production of electric power. However, it was difficult to understand the real height and the amount of water before visiting there.
When we peeked into the fall from the sidewalk, we had a false feeling that we would fall down. The embankment of the dam was peaked and projecting to increase the strength. It was a little bit scary to see the water from the top of the embankment due to its curve.
Because we researched a lot before visiting the Kurobe Dam, we were so excited to find a huge yellow bucket located near a small exhibition area. It is a pity that my photo doesn’t tell much about how huge it was. The bucket was used to pour cement into the Kurobe Dam. Wire was suspended on both side mountains of the Kurobe Dam to move the huge buckets. We could still see the base where the wire was suspended. We could catch a glimpse of the technology and efforts of that time.
There were a small exhibition with photos and videos near the edge of Kurobe Dam, so you can take a look to know the circumstances and atmosphere of the construction site. There was a monument of caterpillar traces of the Dump Trucks and footprints of workers at the entrance of the exhibition area. This gave us an insight into the passion of people who were involved in the construction.
We strolled around Kurobe Dam, then we took the Garve Kurobe Lake Tour Boat. It was a 30-minute tour to see the Kurobe Lake behind the Kurobe Dam holding 200 million cubic meters of water. We saw several people carrying heavy luggage to their accommodation at a campsite in Tateyama Mountain Range. Our 30 min Tour Boat was much more easy-going to enjoy Tateyama Mountain Range’s green and the water of the Kurobe Lake. It cost 1,080 yen for a person and it was a great opportunity to know the size of the huge Kurobe Lake.
At a restaurant near the Kurobe Dam Station, we could not resist having Kurobe Dam Curry. It sounded too touristy, but we were hungry and Japanese curry was the best lunch at that moment. The Kurobe Dam Curry was very impactful for my kids and now they keep creating a dam with rice when we cook curry at home.
It’s all in the details:
Transportation: Tateyama Alpine Route
Stay: Hotel Tateyama