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Route 158 difficult to drive ? 2007/9/2 02:53
Hello!

We like to rent a car in Matsumoto and drive via National Park/Kamikochi to Takayama.

I read the the route is only 1 lane and that there are stones in the road etc.

Would you rather recommend to take the bus to get to Kamikochi and continue with bus to get to Takayama?
I know already that in the National Park the car is not allowed.
It would be just convenient to get there from Matsumoto any time and leave Kamikochi any time, too.

I am used to ride narrow roads, but they can be exhausting.

What do you think? How would you travel this rather short distance?
By the way: we will keep the car after Takayama anyway since we visit Noto/Wajima ...

Is snow a topic around Kamikochi, late October on route 158? I could not find information when winter starts. I thought about November/Dezember ...

By the way: I am very happy to go there soon!
by Marie  

... 2007/9/2 08:27
I drove it a few times. It is a relatively narrow road. One lane in each direction. Lots of curves, tunnels, trucks and buses. Not the easiest road to drive, but it should pose no major problem to a normally skilled car driver.

I read the the route is only 1 lane and that there are stones in the road etc.

I never encountered stones on the road. But considering its location in a valley, I guess it sometimes happens that rocks fall onto the road.

Would you rather recommend to take the bus to get to Kamikochi and continue with bus to get to Takayama?

It is personal preference. If you feel comfortable driving, I would do so.

I know already that in the National Park the car is not allowed.

That's right. You would have to park your car on a parking lot at the entrance to Kamikochi and catch a shuttle bus or taxi from there.

Is snow a topic around Kamikochi, late October on route 158?

I don't think so. In any case, I recommend to take the toll-tunnel (750 Yen) rather than going over the mountain pass.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Rte 158 2007/9/2 09:48
Route 158 is a beautiful drive, scenery-wise. Like Uji said, it is curvy, with many tunnels, and lots of trucks and buses use it. But it's not what I would call 'difficult', it just takes attention. There are restaurants and gifts shops here and there to take a break. I particularly like the huge plaza on the left, some kilometers after Hirayu...I forgot the name. There is a nice gift shop there, but you will see the same things in Takayama.
Definitely take the tunnel after Kamikochi, there is a small toll but the alternate road IS difficult and narrow. Years ago it was the only choice, and I didn't think anything of it; I drove it again two years ago and thought, 'how did I ever do this?' So unless you want that experience, don't do it!
The tunnel is quick and easy.
As you leave the tunnel and start climbing, be sure to take time to look around to the right and left; if the weather is clear you can see some magnificent mountain views.
As you know, you can't drive to Kamikochi but there is a lot of parking in Sawando and frequent buses. On a weekend in October it could get pretty crowded.
An alternative to Kamikochi (though I love Kamikochi and think it one of the most beautiful places in Japan) is Shin-Hodaka onsen; take a right at Hirayu and it's maybe twenty or thirty minutes up the road. There is a ropeway there that when the weather is clear, has a beautiful view. The last time I was there, though, in August, the line was so long I decided not to go up...I had to be someplace else that day!
If you go towards Shin-Hodaka, avoid the bear park whatever you do. Unless they have changed it recently, it's quite depressing.
by Spendthrift rate this post as useful

.... 2007/9/3 18:23
We drove this route last August, ie: 2006 and it was fine. Overall a lot tamer than say Alpine routes and if you think of it as a country road instead of a highway, you'll be fine. No stones just some pebbles here and there. The scenery does improve after Kamikochi so look out to stop and just breathe in. The scenery becomes more Alpine as you descend into Takayama, with firs and flowers by the roadside (probably not when you'll travelling) and a gurgling river. Definitely take the toll tunnel. Right up until Kamikochi closes, I think there'll still be a fair bit of traffic so snow should not be a problem. I've also driven in winter from Tokyo to ski resorts (not near Takayama though) and if it's any consolation, they generally do a pretty decent job in de-icing the roads in Japan.
by mthk rate this post as useful

Thank you!! 2007/9/3 22:57
thank you very much!

I am happy to read that it is 1 lane in each direction and not just 1 lane for both.
:-)

Sinde we will stay overnight in Matsumoto we will have the whole day to arrive in Takayama!

I am looking forward to meet this scenic drive.

Thank you once again.
Marie
by Marie rate this post as useful

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