Mission Impossible – Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (Part 2)


Tateyama Alpine Route

Kurobe Dam

We finally reached Ogizawa after spending six hours on the train from Osaka (part one). Ogizawa is a transit station before our first destination, Kurobe Dam. If you notice on the graphic above, there are a few places that visitors can see in this Alpine route, but we realised we had already lost half a day so we needed to think efficiently of our remaining time and where to go. We decided that we would just pass other places but to spend more time at Kurobe Dam, Murodo and maybe Midagahara or Bijodaira. 


Ogizawa station

Despite our excitement to start the journey right away, we found that there would be another waiting time here at Ogizawa station. There are fixed schedules for the electric buses to take the visitors to Kurobe dam and the next departure was in about 40 minutes. Nooooo! There was nothing else we could do but waited and spent the time studying the route.

hmmm.. do we have enough time to complete the journey?

Half an hour before the departure, people started to line up. We had no choice but to line up as well. It wouldn’t be fun if you already waited for 40 minutes only to find out the bus was full and you should take the next departure time.

It was starting to feel cold as we boarded the electric bus. I could feel the cool breeze blowing our faces gently as we boarded the cute electric bus. The buses took us slowly into the tunnel, piercing through the Mt. Akazawadake

Electric Bus between Ogizawa – Kurobe Dam
Leaving Ogizawa and heading straight into the tunnel cutting trough the belly of Mt. Akazawadake

Arriving at Kurobe Dam, you could choose two routes to explore, either going up the 220 stairs to the observation deck with a majestic view of the whole dam or taking a shorter route directly to the dam area. We made a mistake, we opted for the observation deck, not only because of the climb was excruciating but we then ended up spending much longer time than we wanted to, out of the limited hours we had that afternoon. The climb was especially tough for us who didn’t really exercise much back home in Jakarta, so it took a while before we got to the viewing deck.

This kid was still going strong and overtaking us as we climbed up the stairs
A breathtaking view of Kurobe Dam

After World War II as Japan’s economy grew exponentially, the country experienced severe energy shortage. The answer was to build a dam to generate hydroelectric power. The construction then began in 1955 and took five years before it started to fill the reservoir with water. Eventually, the dam was completed by 1963 with a total cost of $142 million. Ten million people reported working on the construction, of which, 171 workers, sadly, had to sacrifice their lives. Kurobe dam contains almost 1.6 million M3 water that generates 1 billion kWh annually.

It spills out water at 906 m3/s – that’s like almost 1 metric tonne of water per second!


Human’s engineering marvel



Kurobe Dam from the bridge



We didn’t realise that it was almost 2 PM already. My wife and I hurriedly walked across the bridge heading for the cable car station that would take us to our next destination Murodo.

Continue to Part 3

Further References









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