The Kurobe Dam, Japan's tallest dam, was built during the 1950s and 60s in the steep and narrow Kurobe Gorge, deep in the Japan Alps, in one of Japan's greatest feats of engineering.

Since 1971, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route has allowed tourists to visit the dam and travel along the tunnels and cable cars built through the challenging terrain in order to construct and maintain the dam. Likewise, tourists have been able to travel along the narrow-gauge Kurobe Gorge Railway since 1951 to see the beautiful nature along the train line, which continues to also serves the maintenance of multiple power stations in the gorge.

But despite the proximity of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route to the Kurobe Gorge Railway, travelers have not been able to easily combine the two into a single trip, because the routes are accessed from completely different directions, and the direct link between them has been off-limits to the public until now.

However, this will change in autumn 2024, when the missing link, the Kurobe Unazuki Canyon Route, will open to the public and allow tourists to travel along the impressive, mostly underground infrastructure, which connects the Tateyama Alpine Route with the Kurobe Gorge Railway and was previously not open to the public.

Like the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, the Kurobe Unazuki Canyon Route is divided into multiple sections to be traveled by various unique means of transportation, including an elevator, battery-powered mini train, an underground cable car and a tunnel bus in a thrilling journey, which takes about three hours between Keyakidaira Station and Kurobe Dam:

  • Keyakidaira Station
  • Electric train
  • Underground elevator
  • Battery-powered train
  • Kurobe No. 4 Power Station
  • Underground Cable Car
  • Tunnel Bus
  • Kurobe Dam

Because of capacity and safety issues, the Kurobe-Unazuki Canyon Route will unfortunately not be open for free exploration by individual tourists. Instead, it will be necessary to sign up for a travel package, which includes accommodation in addition to a guided trip along the route. Four different plans (see map below) are expected to be available at costs that have not been announced yet, but are expected to be around 130,000 yen per person:

  • From Unazuki to Tateyama with an overnight stay at Unazuki at the start of the trip
  • From Unazuki to Tateyama with an overnight stay at Murodo along the way
  • From Tateyama to Unazuki with an overnight stay at Unazuki at the end of the trip
  • From Omachi to Unazuki with an overnight stay at Omachi at the start of the trip

The route was originally scheduled to open from June 30, 2024, and the travel plans were planned to go on sale from this January; however, because one bridge along the Kurobe Gorge Railway was damaged by the Noto Peninsula Earthquake, the opening of the route was delayed to October 1, 2024, and the travel plans won't go on sale until around early July.

Only a few thousand tourists will be able to pass the route per year; consequently, it can be expected that competition for the travel plans will be quite high.