Ophelia Ding


Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

I can’t quite believe it’s already November. This semester is flying by (as semesters always do) — but this one in Tokyo feels especially fleeting. Senior year, stay a little longer, please?  

My attempts to squeeze every second out of my time here in Tokyo have resulted in a balancing act between getting the most out of the city and making my way out of town. Two weeks ago, my friends and I went for the latter, and spent the weekend away in the mountains. Best. Decision. Ever. It was so rejuvenating, and a welcome break from the monotonous day to day routine that being a student can sometimes become. With Kshitij’s glowing recommendation, we travelled to the famed Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in northern Japan. 

This route is a seven part sightseeing trek across the Tateyama Mountain Range (aka the Japan Alps), and takes an average of 6-8 hours to complete. Here’s a quick breakdown of our weekend trip (cleverly hashtagged #imallthewayalp by David).

A quick map of our Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route trek. We traveled from the Toyama side to the Shinano-Omachi side. (Photo Credit: Japan Guide)

Leg 16 hour overnight bus from Tokyo to Toyama
I don’t think “bus” is the right word to use here, it was more like beds. Seriously, this Willer Express bus was decked out! There were comfortable fully reclining seats and head canopies (psst, Greyhound — take note!). I was pleasantly surprised by how rested I felt in the morning. Japan really knows how to do it when it comes to travel. I think the exact word used in my Frommer’s guide was “coddled,” and I couldn’t agree more! Traveling, even on an overnight bus, is so seamless and comfortable.

Miranda and Jun testing out the head canopies, aka the best defense against ugly sleeping photos. ;) 

Leg 2: Toyama Station to Tateyama Station
Amidst confusion and a sleepy haze, we officially began our trek of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route upon arrival at Toyama Station. Our first train up to the mountains was charmingly old fashioned, and had a single exit door where the conductor hand-checked tickets. It felt straight out of a movie with the light flooding in and the mountain range outside our window. 

That light though! Cue "All of the Lights" - Kanye West

Leg 3: Tateyama Station to Bijodaira
I know my descriptions of these legs will be comprised mostly of “beautiful,” “stunning,” and “breathtaking,” so I’m officially commencing the “let the photos speak for themselves” portion of the blog post. ;)

This photo makes me want to start a #mirandainthewild series!

Leg 4: Bijodaira to Murodo

Murodo was especially stunning –- it felt like I was plopped straight into a painting!

Team #imallthewayalp's new album cover.

Leg 5: Murodo to Daikanbo.

Panorama, Polaroid style!

me and my favorite adventure bud!

Leg 6: Daikanbo to Kurobedaira

Leg 7: Kurobedaira to Kurobe Dam

Way to many dam/damn puns were made here!

Leg 8: Kurobe Dam to Shinano-Omachi Station. Alpine Route fin!
After our exhausting trek across the Alpine Route, we spent the night in the loveliest Airbnb near Shinano-Omachi Station. Our thoughtful hosts, Chie and her husband Hayashi, were so sweet. Their hospitality was beyond anything I could have asked for — from picking us up and dropping us off at the station, to bringing us to the supermarket, to home-cooking dinner for us — they were incredible. Their charming place was nestled deep in the countryside, complete with a fireplace and adorable kitchen. 

Look how beautiful that copper kettle is! I want one for my kitchen now. ;)

The boys making breakfast Ron Swanson style -- good ol' fashioned bacon and eggs. 

Chie and Hayashi had five free bikes (!) for us to use, and we took advantage of them. Our scenic route out to Lake Kizaki was straight out of an old Japanese movie, and was the perfect ending to our trip. 

Those colors! 

Major heart eyes for everything here. 

Huge shoutout to the #imallthewayalp crew for such a relaxing weekend, and to Chie and Hayashi for such a delightful stay. Until next time!