Staff Reports
Raina's Japan Travel Journal
by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2014/09/29 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route

View from the main trail towards Ichinokoshi

Today, Scott and I made a trip to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route to see some autumn foliage and do a bit of hiking. The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route spans between Toyama and Nagano prefectures, and is a spectacular way to cross the Northern Japan Alps by a combination of buses, cablecars and a ropeway. The route leads from Toyama City at the Sea of Japan coast to Murodo at an altitude of 2420 meters before descending into the town of Omachi in Nagano Prefecture. It can be travelled in either direction.

The Alpine Route offers beautiful scenery all year round and is one of the earlier destinations on Japan's main island of Honshu where you can see the seasonal colors. Due to its wide range of elevation, the Alpine Route features autumn colors over an extended time period. Murodo usually sees its alpine plants start coloring around late September, while the seasonal colors last into the month of November in the lower elevations along the route. Compared to last year, the colors overall were about two weeks earlier and we were really fortunate to have perfect weather conditions and beautiful autumn foliage to see.

We started our journey from the Nagano side in Ogizawa and took the trolley bus to Kurobe Dam. There were many people in hiking gear and full packs with bells attached (to ward of bears), ready to hike sections of the Alpine Route. At an elevation of about 1460 meters, the trees at Kurobe Dam were still green. However, at 1800 meters at Kurobedaira, the autumn colours were out in full force, with bright red nanakamado bushes flanking specially created pathways around the observation deck. It will not be long before the autumn colors move towards Kurobe Dam.

Hikers ready to ascend the mountains
Kurobe Dam discharging water
Inside the Kurobe cable car
Vermilion leaves

The valley that the Tateyama Ropeway passes was covered in fiery orange and red nanakamado bushes as well as other shrubbery. It made for very impressive view and drew the most gasps of admiration from all the passengers. The colors at the valley here are once again one to two weeks earlier compared to previous years and are expected to develop further, turning the valley yellower.

Once we arrived at Murodo, we started our hike for the day. The route we took brought us up and down mountain slopes, up to an elevation of about 2600 meters and provided gorgeous views of the landscape. We did a loop starting from Murodo terminal towards Ichinokoshi and as we got higher, we saw ice off the trail on the mountain slope. Then we branched off the main trail and headed for Raichozawa. This route brought us through fiery red nanakamado bushes and patches of chinguruma. We also saw alpine grass as we got closer to the campsite. Colors at Murodo and further up are at their peak and it will not be long before they start drying up.

Tateyama ropeway with Kurobe Dam in the background
Just outside Murodo terminal at the start of our hike
Delicate chinguruma in grass
A patch of snow along the main trail
Crossing over from the main trail to Raichozawa
Autumn foliage and beautiful scenery
Alpine grass in the foreground
The Tateyama Ropeway and the valley beneath it

As we approached Raichozawa, the smell of sulphur got stronger as we were near a hell valley. Unfortunately, access into the hell valley remains closed due to the emissions of poisonous volcanic gases. However, we were still able to view the hell valley from a distance along various parts of the trail. Once back at Murodo terminal, the crowd had gotten larger with tour groups and the shorter walking route was crowded with tourists.

Crossing the bridge to get to the campsite
Campsite
Sign warning about poisonous volcanic gases
Part of the steaming hell valley
Lake Mikuriga
Chinguruma
Hikers walking up a trail

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List of Posts:
2019/03/20 - Moominvalley Park opens near Tokyo
2018/12/31 - 2018 Travel Highlights
2018/10/25 - Business as usual at Tsukiji Outer Market
2018/08/19 - Hello Kitty Shinkansen
2018/05/16 - Cruising Tokyo's waterways
2018/04/17 - Wisteria blossoms in Ashikaga Flower Park
2018/01/18 - Shinanomachi, the Backcountry of Nagano

2017/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2017
2017/10/25 - The 45th Tokyo Motor Show
2017/10/11 - Dipping into the three onsen towns of Yamanaka, Yamashiro and Katayamazu
2017/07/24 - Remote Riches in Toyama
2017/07/03 - Spiritual Chichibu
2017/05/02 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2017/04/14 - Sneak Peek from Ginza Six
2017/03/21 - A bit of everything in Fukui
2017/03/13 - Nikko Toshogu Uncovered
2017/02/15 - Subculture in Ikebukuro
2017/02/07 - Travel to the Goto Islands
2017/02/06 - Nagasaki Lantern Festival

2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/12/19 - Winter Illuminations in Tokyo
2016/10/24 - The way of old on the Kunisaki Peninsula
2016/10/11 - Following the Tadami Line in Oku Aizu
2016/08/27 - Fool's Dance at Koenji Awa Odori
2016/08/16 - The three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan
2016/06/20 - Train travel into the Ise-Shima region
2016/04/03 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2016/03/08 - The hunt for Namahage on the Oga Peninsula
2016/03/02 - Sake Sangria
2016/02/20 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report
2016/01/26 - Tour de Reinan: Obama, Oi and Takahama
2016/01/25 - Tour de Reinan: Tsuruga, Mihama and Wakasa

2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima
2015/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Kankakei
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2015/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan
2015/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2015/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Dazaifu
2015/10/28 - The 44th Tokyo Motor Show
2015/10/21 - Hirado, where East meets West
2015/10/20 - Kujukushima Islands and Winter Illumination at Huis Ten Bosch
2015/10/19 - Navigating the Christian sites in Nagasaki
2015/10/18 - Cosplay at Haco Stadium Tokyo
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2015/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2015/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2015/09/16 - Nakanojo Biennale 2015
2015/08/19 - Traditional culture and hot springs of the Aizu Region
2015/08/17 - Nature and Hot Springs at Naruko Onsen
2015/08/04 - Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 2015
2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/29 - Hakodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/21 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/16 - Sendai Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/09 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/08 - Fukushima Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/06 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/02 - Nara Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/01 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/31 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/27 - Fukuoka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/26 - Kumamoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/25 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Sendai
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Tokyo
2014/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa
2014/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2014/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2014/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/10/31 - Autumn Color Report: Karuizawa
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2014/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2014/10/01 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2014/09/29 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/06/19 - Toranomon Hills opens in Tokyo
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu-Wakamatsu Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/04 - Early Tokyo Blossom Report