With an early start and quick travel pace, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route can be covered in a day trip from the major cities of Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka. However, to allow for a more leisurely experience, staying overnight along or near the Alpine Route is recommended. In addition, the itinerary can be easily extended to include other popular destinations in the area. Below are some suggested itineraries:

Tokyo - partial route - Tokyo (via Matsumoto)

Access the Alpine Route from the Nagano side via Matsumoto, but instead of completing the entire route, travel only to as far as Murodo, turn around and return to Tokyo the same way you came. The journey is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass and JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass except for the Alpine Route itself.

Tokyo - partial route - Tokyo (via Toyama)

Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Toyama, and then instead of completing the entire route, travel only to as far as Murodo, turn around and return to Tokyo the same way you came. The journey is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass except for the Alpine Route itself. While this itinerary is somewhat less time-consuming than the above one (partial route via Matsumoto), travelers will not be able to experience what many consider the more spectacular section between Murodo and the Kurobe Dam.

Kyoto/Osaka - full route - Kyoto/Osaka

Take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya, transfer to a limited express to Matsumoto and then to the JR Oito Line to Shinano-Omachi. After completing the Alpine Route, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen and limited express train via Kanazawa back to Kyoto or Osaka. The entire journey is covered by the Tateyama Kurobe Alpen Kippu. It is also covered by the Japan Rail Pass except for the Alpine Route itself. This itinerary can also be done in the opposite direction, but if you want to complete it in a daytrip, it is recommended to do it in the counter-clockwise direction due to a lack of early-morning connections to Tateyama.

Nagoya - full route - Nagoya

Take a limited express train from Nagoya to Matsumoto and transfer to the JR Oito Line to Shinano-Omachi. After completing the Alpine Route, return to Nagoya via Kanazawa (faster) or Takayama (more scenic). This itinerary can also be done in the opposite direction, but the counter-clockwise direction allows for an earlier start in the morning. The Alpine Takayama Matsumoto Area Tourist Pass is well suited for visiting the Alpine Route from Nagoya.

Suggested Additions

Takayama

Takayama is widely popular among both domestic and international tourists for its beautifully preserved old town. The small city offers several other attractions and a visit in combination with the Alpine Route is recommended. Hida limited express trains between Nagoya and Toyama stop at Takayama along the way.

Kurobe Gorge

The Kurobe Gorge is a beautiful, forested ravine in the rugged mountains north of the Alpine Route. Its main attraction, the Kurobe Gorge Railway, was originally built to aid the construction of the Kurobe Dam along the Alpine Route. Today, the railway no longer provides access to the dam, but sightseeing trains remain in operation as they meander through the gorge, providing lovely views of nature.

Kiso Valley

The Kiso Valley runs alongside the mountains of the Central Alps, and it is home to a few former post towns along an important trade route between Kyoto and Tokyo in the past. The post towns are preserved to look as they did during the Edo Period (1603-1867), and visitors are able to enjoy the stone paths and wooden buildings of a bygone era.

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