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June 28, 2015 - Kurobe Dam Railway - Toyama
For today, I left the sleepy town of Iiyama for the Kurobe Dam Railway in Toyama. The one stark difference I have noticed is that there are now lots of tourists -albeit of the Japanese variety. It's also been 5 days since I've seen a western traveller (Kusatsu Onsen) which is a rarity for me. As the Hokuriku Shinkansen has recently opened, you can now access Kurobe Gorge from a day trip from Tokyo.
As you can see, it looks like I've travelled a fair distance from Iiyama today but the new Shinkansen really speeds things up. It only takes 40 minutes to get between the two towns now.
Map of all locations visited in Japan for this trip: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zp0MtAJdtIro.kxeafFLd0Sjg&usp=sharing
To reach Unazuki onsen, it takes roughly 27 minutes and costs 630 yen. The ride there is also quite pretty but would get very busy during koyo or fall colours. The trip between Unazuki Onsen and Kiyakidaira is a little under 2000 yen one way and takes around 80 minutes. I also stopped at Kanesturi on the way back.
For today, I first took the second class seats all the way to the end which limited my chance to take photos due to glass on the windows as a slight drizzle. My first stop was Hitokui Iwa which is literally 3 minutes from the train station.
In the other direction is Sarutobikyo Gorge which takes around a lazy 15 minutes to reach (900 meters). Do note that it can get slippery if the ground is wet and you do go through quite a few tunnels.
On the way back I decided to take the 3rd class seats which were much more fun. I stopped at Kanetsuri station and viewed the semi-permanent snow bank.
Around a 20 minute walk from Kanetsuri station is meant to be a onsen where you can visit. Unfortunately the area of flooded (or washed away) so I had to put up with a true poor mans foot bath.
After around 40 minutes I jumped back on the train back to Unazuki onsen. Note that there are MANY tour buses around 3:30-4PM but thankfully they are on their own carriages.
So in general, I reasonably enjoyed today but unfortunately it does not compare to what I've seen in the last 2 weeks (specifically Iiyama and Tsuruoka). As such, I'm guessing that this is probably the last time I'll visit Kurobe Gorge.
For tomorrow, I'll be heading to the industrial city of Itoigawa where I'll be able to put on my geologist hat once again. Apologies in advance for potential geology lessons for the next two posts.
Japan-Guide Info: /e/e7575.html
Kurobe Train Official Website (English): http://www.kurotetu.co.jp/en/