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There seems to be plenty to see in Toyama. Two of the three most sacred mountains in Japan are in Toyama. Hakusan and Tateyaya. Tsurugidake also in Toyama is said to be one of the most technically challenging mountains in Japan not requiring special climbing gear. Tateyama and Tsurugidake are both accessible from Murodo and can be hiked together given two days and a stay at a mountain hut. See photos and read more about hiking Tateyama and Tsurugidake at Hiking Japan's Mountains Although my purpose for traveling the Alpine Route was solely to get to Murodo to hike, many people ride the Alpine route for sight seeing. Especially interesting is big snow valley around April/May when the snow walls surrounding the road are as tall as 30 feet!
The Alpine Route is the name of the multi-transportation route from Ogisawa to Toyama Station through Murodo where the access trails for Tateyama and Tsurugidake begin. This is the only means of transportation to Murodo except for some special buses out of Tokyo and Osaka. Driving your own car is not permitted. However, you can have you car transported past the Alpine Route for a fee. If starting from Omachi, Nagano there are busses to Ogisawa. The Alpine Route from Ogisawa to Murodo cost 8500 yen. From Ogisawa the transportation is a trolley bus to Kurobe Dam, a walk across the Dam to Kurobeko, a cable car to Kurobedaira, a rope way to Daikanbo. and finally another trolley bus to Murodo.
From Ogisawa (left) the trolley bus brought us to Kurobe Dam. From the station it is 140 steps (right) up to the dam observatory and then back down to the dam itself, which despite the amount of money we paid to get to Murodo, we had to cross on foot! You can avoid the steps and the observatory and go straight to the dam if you wish.
People stroll across Kurobe Dam on the Alpine Route.
After crossing the dam we boarded the cable car.
The final trip from Kurobedaira to Murodo is by rope way.
The view from the rope way
During your trip you can collect different stamps at the different stations along the Alpine Route. It seems the Japanese love to collect these stamps. Every station of the Alpine Route had at least two different stamps. If you hike, all the mountain huts also had there own stamps. Sort of proof of your achievement in making it that far. It the case of the Alpine Route on a crowded day this is quite an achievement!
Once you arrive in Murodo, there is plenty to see including a variety of plants and short hiking trails. Tateyama can be done as a day trip from here. There are plenty of flat shorter trails including trails that wind past Jigoku-dani or "Hell's Valley" for the casual hiker. Also keep an eye out for raichou the prefectural bird of Toyama.
The lake next to Mikurigaike Onsen hotel has a cafeteria and an onsen and is only a 15 minute walk from Murodo station. The Mikurigaike Onsen is the onsen at the highest elevation in all of Japan.