Tateyama Alpine Route 立山黒部アルペンルート
In this blog post, I wouldn’t give so much explanation on how the transport of getting there. For that, please see my previous entry on Tateyama Alpine Route here and here. Do note that timetables may change depending on when you visit, so there may be slight variations between early April as well as late November.
At 6:50am, we arrived at Toyama Station the next morning. Quickly ran off the bus, we made a beeline towards the station entrance (it was literally freezing). As per our itinerary, we quickly found a washroom to change and make up – we actually ended up changing underground (not literally stripping, just grabbing more layers to wear over). We knew that we had only 1 hour to clear quite a bit of administration before taking the 8:05am train up to Tateyama Station.
First thing we had to do was to ship our luggage. Luggage shipping bound for Murodo had to be done before 9am. We quickly sent our luggage away, and as per my itinerary we had prepared to split up. Sue headed off to quickly grab us both some breakfast, while I headed in the opposite direction to book the train tickets for our JR Pass. However, what I had overlooked was that I needed her passport (and mine, since she kept both of our passports with her). Instead, I had to wait for her while standing near an area with WIFI, hoping that she would turn it on and see the message I had left. Fortunately, she did, and we managed to book the tickets relatively quickly, while she ate her lunch.
We managed to get on the train as planned, and 1 hour later, arrived at Tateyama Station. Fortunately, I had already booked the tickets for the transfer to Bijodaira, and pretty soon we were heading up towards Bijodaira!
By 9:40am, we arrived at Bijodaira. Similarly to last year, we stuffed our items into a locker, and headed out to explore the area.
9:40am to 9:47am | Tateyama to Bijodaira via Tateyama Cablecar
Bijodaira was as beautiful as the last time I remembered it, however, the seasons were completely different. The beautiful autumn leaves were gone, replaced by an equally beautiful pre-winter scene. Fortunately, again, we were the only ones on this trail as others opted to go ahead (probably had only 1 day to clear the entire route).
The route was beautifully clear, and we trudged on, watching out for the many steps and portholes along the way. It looked the same, yet completely different. I loved that I was back here, watching the same path change according to the seasons.
The entire pathway took slightly less than 2 hours of rigorous walking, and you would have to be very careful when walking along the winding road, as the buses would occasionally zoom past us (with drivers waving merrily as they did so). After about 2 hours, we arrived back at where we started, tired but ready to continue on to the next trial. The one thing Sue and I loved to do when we traveled together, was to take these long walks, especially when we were the only humans around.
Obligatory photo for arriving at Bijodaira LOL
We also decided to take a look at the observatory while we were here – I missed it the last time!
The observatory was beautiful – bright blue clouds overlooking post-autumn mountain ranges. If only we could stay here forever…
But ahead we moved – so much more to see!
11:00am to 11:30am | Bijodaira to Midagahara via Tateyama Highland Bus
The trails of Midagahara welcomed me back again, this time more beautiful than the last. Where the last time we were here we only saw brown ashy tones, strangely this time, we saw a myriad of brown, green, white and blue. It was definitely worth it coming back here again.
The various views of Midagahara was amazing – we were once again the only ones around. I loved the fact that we were able to explore the area without having anyone else around.
We continued walking on – continuing to enjoy the atmosphere, occasionally jumping over loose rocks and blue ponds. These were way more beautiful than the last time I had come, which I hadn’t thought was event possible.
We headed back to the Midagahara Hotel to get some food – ended up sharing almost the whole menu.Bought 2 teas, a cheesecake, a creme brulee, as well as a beef stew with bread. The food energized us, and the view even more so – Midagahara Hotel had glass walls which looked out unto plains. It was really nice to sit and eat while watching the nice scenery.
After which, we headed up to view the caldera. I had wanted to take this trail 1 year ago, but could not due to bear sightings. This year, I was happy enough to finally make it up! Standing at the top-most step, you could see the entire caldera, I could only imagine how beautiful it would be during summer.
Once again, we stayed at Hotel Tateyama.
Our luggage had already arrived, and we collected them quickly at the front desk. This time, we were given an even larger room, and one with a bath – the previous room only had a toilet and not a bath. The rooms were as clean as I remembered them, so Sue and I decided to take a break and rest in the hotel for the rest of the night rather than go out for more walks as we were both tired.
The view from outside the hotel room was better than it was last year – and from our window we could see that the trails were empty as well. There was no one around! We waited and chilled in our room for around an hour, before we decided to head out for dinner.
The dinner spread was as delicious as I remembered the last time. We stuffed ourselves full of hot food, and decided to head to the onsen for a quick shower. The onsen, too, was deserted when we entered.
While Sue repacked our luggage (we had done some shopping after dinner), we waited for the sky to get dark. Finally it was dark enough! We turned off the lights and tried some night photography – by we I meant me. Sue just set in the dark waiting LOL.
My first proper night shot – not counting the one I took in Perth
Finally, after half an hour of freezing calibrations – I had this beauty. Affirmed that we were on the right track, we bundled ourselves in all our clothes and headed out – hoping to grab more beautiful shots without the window frame being in the way.
But by the time we had gone out, no stars were to be seen. The clouds had covered them all up completely. Disappointed (but hey at least we got 1 shot!) we headed back to our room to rest for the night, not realizing what a surprise will come tomorrow!
Next morning, we woke up obliviously – got showered and changed, before I opened the window, and got the best surprise of my life.
It snowed! We headed downstairs for breakfast, which included the same buffet as last year, and the bundled up to explore the snowy peak! Of course, we had asked the staff prior to leaving if it was safe to walk.
The snow was so thick that we could hardly see where we were going. We stumbled around the peak happy to see snow, but at the same time, the snow was hitting us in the face, and it was painful.
We ended up throwing snowballs at each other, sliding down the different paths. We had originally intended to go down to the caldera, but decided that the visibility was too poor. Our faces were getting snow-punctured, and we finally admitted defeat. It was however, fun to walk around the snow-laden area while screaming at each other from the top of our lungs to out-shout the wind in our ears!
Daikanbo 大観峰 & Kurobedaira
12:15pm to 12:25pm | Murodo to Daikanbo via Tateyama Tunnel Trolley Bus
We returned to Murodo Station, and then took the bus to Daikanbo. Since we had missed the sunrise, we headed up to the observatory to see the views. But upon reaching the observatory, we burst out laughing.
We couldn’t see ANYTHING! The board which showed us what we were supposed to see stood there mocking us, reminding us that the snow also came with some side issues… which involved us mostly not being able to see where we were going!
1:00pm to 1:07pm | Daikanbo to Kurobedaira via Tateyama Ropeway
As we descended Daikanbo towards Kurobedaira, the snow cleared, and the views returned. At Kurobedaira, we could now see the mountains ahead of us, so we stopped by the observatory again for more views.
There was hardly anyone around even at Kurobedaira. We had managed to go through almost the entire stretch of the Alpine Route without encountering many people.
Kurobe Dam 黒部ダム
1:40pm to 1:45pm | Kurobedaira to Kurobe Dam via Kurobe Cablecar
Kurobe Dam once again marked the end of our journey. It was as beautiful as I remembered, and even colder. However, of course, Sue and I loved the cold, so we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves walking around the Dam, with the wind blowing at us.
The views here were still slightly post-autumn, but we managed to catch a rainbow appearing cheekily while we were waiting! It was an utter surprise, but a great one!
From Kurobedaira, we took the same route back as the last time back to Matsumoto. At Shinano Omachi, we collected our luggage – though we had to wait awhile as we were earlier than expected. After collecting our luggage, we than had to wait for our train to Matsumoto.
Matsumoto 松本 & Hotel Trend Matsumoto
We arrived in Matsumoto and headed straight to our hotel, Hotel Trend Matsumoto.
Check In & Out: 1st November 2016 to 2nd November 2016
Cost: SGD$88.96 for 2 persons, Twin Room
Hotel Trend Matsumoto was a small businesslike hotel, about 5 minutes away from Matsumoto Station. However, we were slightly disappointed by the room. Not because it was small, which was something we were accustomed to, but it was also one of the not-so-clean hotel rooms that we had been in for awhile. The carpet was dusty and somewhat grimy, so we were both quite glad to only stay here for a night.
Other than the cleanliness factor, the hotel was pretty okay – it catered to all our needs fairly well.
From our hotel, we decided to head out for some dinner! We roamed around to get our bearings for tomorrow, and ended up buying some bread for tomorrow’s breakfast! We were about to resort to fastfood for dinner, but Sue saw a small restaurant serving beef bowls, so we decided to try it out.
We also made friends with a nice lady who we ended up eating and chatting with, but quickly headed back to get some fruits, before returning back to our hotel for the rest of the night. We were tired!