Mission Impossible – Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (Part 1)

Murodo (2,450 meters above the sea level)

I call this trip as a mission impossible journey because we were quite insane to even think of trying this route on a day trip from Osaka. Let me give a bit of background why I call it a mission-impossible trip.

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a scenic route that passes through the dynamic scenery of Mt. Tateyama in the Japan Alps with an elevation of around 2,450 meters above the sea level. If you have come across a photo on the internet that shows a highway in between two high snow walls, that’s one of the highlights of this place. There are many more attractions available on this route that stretches from Toyama to Nagano prefecture. The official site recommends you to spend at least six hours from one end to the other to enjoy all the highlights. You could start your journey from Ogizawa and end it at Tateyama station or vice versa.

Tateyama Alpine Route

From Tokyo or Osaka to either Ogizawa or Tateyama, as the starting point of the route, would require a great deal of time too. It will take at least 5 to 6 hours, assuming that you don’t miss any train connection in between.

In my calculation, we should leave very early from Osaka and reach Ogizawa around lunchtime. We have to choose Ogizawa as an entry point to start the route because returning to Osaka from Tateyama gives us a later train schedule in the afternoon compared to Shinano Omachi. If we successfully get to Ogizawa around lunchtime, we could then continue the alpine route, which the official site says, it should take around 6 hours to complete, and try not to miss the last train from Tateyama station at around 7 PM that takes us back to Osaka. Piece of cake, right?

Osaka to Ogizawa (estimated around 5-6 hour total travel of combined train and bus ride)

We left our accommodation around 5 AM trying to catch Hikari Shinkansen at 6.30 AM from Shin-Osaka heading for Nagoya. The train car was quite empty when we boarded. I guess it was still too early for other passengers.

Inside Hikari Shinkansen that connects Osaka to Tokyo

Shinkansen (bullet train) is just beautiful. It can run up to 300 km/h, which means if the plan to connect Bandung and Jakarta with a shinkansen materialises, preferably within our lifetime, then the trip should be completed in just about half an hour. A bullet train connecting Gambir station in Jakarta to Gubeng Station in Surabaya with a distance of around 800 km will only need about two and a half-hour ride on a shinkansen! I guess I might have already passed away before I could see a bullet train connecting Jakarta to Surabaya.

Shinkansen (bullet train) mimicking the shape of a bird’s beak to reduce the sonic boom as it enters the tunnels

We stopped briefly at Nagoya station and changed train to Shiojiri Station, continued on a different train until reaching Shinano Omachi station, and then rode a bus to Ogizawa.

As expected, we reached Ogizawa at 12.30 PM. Half a day passed by just to get from Osaka to the starting point of Alpine route. No turning back anymore, now we officially started the Alpine route.

Next – Part 2. Kurobe Dam


On the way to Shiojiri
Shiojiri Station – this train then took us to Shinano Omachi
Ogizawa – the start of Alpine Route and yes, that’s a mountain monkey feeling adventurous crossing in front of our bus
The view across Ogizawa station







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