Japan is one of the most visited countries in the world because of its beautiful four seasons. Depending on the season, there are various places that are must-visits. One of the many places in the country that is a primary location no matter what the season is Tateyama. While this place is not exactly one that pops up the list every time one thinks of Japan, Tateyama is still a town to visit when one is exploring the country of Japan.
Facts About Tateyama, Toyama: Map, Weather, History
Known as Tateyama-machi in Japanese, Tateyama is a town situated in Nakaniikawa District. Located in Toyama Prefecture in Japan, the town is in the region of Chubu (Hokuriku). Tateyama had an estimated population of 26,161 as of the 1st of October in the year 2016. With a total area of 307.29 square kilometers, which is equal to 118.65 square miles, the town has a population density of 85.1 persons per square kilometer.
With the coordinates of 36°39′48.8″ North and 137°18′49.3″ East, Tateyama was previously a part of the ancient Etchu Province. Its symbols are Cryptomeria Tree, Chrysanthemum Flower, and Satsuki azalea Flowering Tree. Its address is 2440 Maezawa, Tateyama-machi, Nakaniikawa-gun, Toyama-ken 930-0292. Tateyama Village was made on the 12th of May in the year 1894. However, the village was elevated to town status on the 10th of January in the year 1954.
The town of Tateyama’s mascot is known as Raijii. The “Rai” was taken from the term “Raicho,” which was the bird found on Mount Tateyama located in Toyama Prefecture known as the ptarmigan. The “jii” was taken from the term “ojiisan,” which literally translates to “old man.” The old man is said to be more than 20,000 years old and was born on the 16th of April. It is said that he walks with a walking stick and he wears a hat in the shape of three mountains that combined in Tateyama. The old man’s purpose is to guard and protect Tateyama and its beautiful nature.
For people wishing to move to Tateyama and have children, the town houses seven public elementary schools and a public middle schools. These public schools are run by the village government. There is also a public high school that is run by the Toyama Board of Education. Elementary schools in the area are Tateyama Elementary School, Takano Elementary School, Rita Elementary School, Nichuano Elementary School, Kamagafuchi Elementary School, Tateyama Chuo Elementary School, and Hokubu Elementary School. The middle school and high school in Tateyama are both called Oyama in dedicated to the shrines on Tateyama mountain.
There used to be an eighth elementary school known as Shinseto Elementary until the year 2016. However, this school closed because of the low number of students. This may be attributed to the migration of families to the center of the main town and away from the mountainous region. Oyama Junior High School in Tateyama has been considered as having one of the highest English abilities by the Education Departments in Toyama Prefecture.
Introducing Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in Japan
Probably the most famous attraction in Tateyama is the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Also known as Tateyama Kurobe Arupen Ruto in Japanese, it is a mountain sightseeing route that runs between Tateyama located in Toyama Prefecture and Omachi located in Nagano Prefecture. The entirety of the route was opened on the 1st of June in the year 1971.
With the vertical interval as long as 1,975 meters, the whole route is 37 kilometers long. 7 different kinds of public transport coupled with five different modes are used in the route. These modes are funicular, trolleybus, walking, bus, and aerial tramway.
Because the route is surrounded by nature, it was carefully constructed so as to avoid damaging the surrounding environment. Following this, there are three lines that pass through tunnels. Another reason for this is to protect the lines from snow come winter time. Out of the three lines, two of them are trolleybus lines. While there are almost no trolleybuses in the country, these two lines in the route are still maintained and used. This is because these trolleybuses do not exhaust fumes inside the tunnels.
Also known as the “Roof of Japan,” the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route goes through the beautiful scenery of Mount Tateyama located in the Japan Alps. It can be traversed with the use of a range of vehicles. The route has an elevation change of 2.4 kilometers starting from Toyama Prefecture all the way to Nagano Prefecture.
The operating period of the route differs every year. For the year 2017, the full route between Dentetsu Toyama and Shinano Omachi is open from the 15th of April to the 30th of November. The partial route between Dentetsu Toyama and Midagahara is open from the 10th of April to the 14th of the same month. From the 1st of December until the 9th of April in the year 2018, the route would be closed to the public. The route itself is estimated to be 90 kilometers in length with varying scenery depending on the season.
Lying on the border between Nagano Prefecture and Toyama Prefecture, the Northern Japan Alps is a mountain range crossed by the Alpine Route. The route is accessible from the major cities of every prefecture. As a tourist site, Tateyama has great access to the route. The prefecture also provides access for several mountaineers.
With the unique mountain environment as seen in the Alpine Route, many people would naturally want to witness and experience the place. However, despite the appreciated love and effort coming from tourists and visitors, it is imperative that the governing body of the route maintain and protect this unique mountain environment. The goal of the route is to be the foremost ecological tourism site in the world. Even the vehicles used in this site is electrical and “green” to avoid high emissions.
A Guide on Tour: Seasonal Attractions Like Snow Wall
Even though the route itself is only open for half of the year, this place is highly recommended to be visited any season of the year. During any season, the area shows the beauty and uniqueness of nature. The scenery actually alters depending on the altitude, which makes the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route distinct and special.
During the arrival of the spring season, the Alpine Route offers a different kind of experience. Instead of gardens and flowers, the area is still surrounded by snow. One of the main attractions of the route is the snow wall, which is 18 meters in height. People can see the clear, blue skies as they watch from the bus. Between the walls of snow, white snowcapped peaks can be seen. The best time to witness the snow walls is in the month of June.
Because the route itself is closed in June, there are fewer visitors in the area. This is actually also a good thing as guests are able to have a more relaxed sightseeing experience without the crowd. Furthermore, weather in June is warm and can be predicted. A white ptarmigan can sometimes even be seen while walking on the snow fields around Murodo. These ptarmigans are sometimes called “the messengers from God” by the locals of Tateyama. It is said that these birds bring happiness to the people who chance upon them.
It is during the summer season when it is best to sightsee, climb, and nature walk in Murodo. Tress with broad leaves come into bud during this season. Furthermore, the ice in the lake behind Kurobe Dam begins to melt during this season. The water is also sometimes even released in a magnificent way for the delight of sightseers. Hiking courses in Murodo also let hikers see the Tateyama mountain range. It takes around an hour to go around Mikurigaike as the reflection of Tateyama can be viewed in the lake.
Visiting around the month of June through August is highly recommended for nature-lovers. Guests are welcomed with spectacular landscapes as well as alpine flowers and autumn leaves. The fall colors are usually at their best from late September to early October. Slowly but surely, these colors descend the mountain slopes beginning from late October until early November.
Because temperatures in Murodo are typically 12 to 15 degrees below the temperature in the plains underneath, heaps of snow can still be found even until the month of July. Visitors can walk in and play with the snow even if it is no longer winter season. The leaves begin to change hues starting at the end of September. It takes about six weeks for them to change colors and last until the start of the month of November.
The changing of colors usually starts in the higher areas and gradually descends down the mountain. This is quite unique as there are no alternative sites that have this huge change in terms of altitude. As the season changes, visitors may actually be able to see the contrast of color created by nature. It is possible to see white snow at the peak of the route, autumn leaves of red and orange hue in the middle, and fresh green leaves at the bottom of the mountain.
Come the month of November, the best place to go to is the highest station located on Mt. Tateyama, Murodo. Snowfall sometimes comes a bit earlier than usual and visitors may experience snow in as early as late September. However, snow from this early snowfall may melt within 2 to 3 days. However, beginning early to mid-November, snow falling from the sky would no longer melt, signifying the winter season in Tateyama. The views depict a “Snowy World” that can be enjoyed by visitors prior to the winter lockout.
The primary attraction of the route is the Tateyama Mountain Range. With its spectacular scenery, the range is a portion of the Chubu Sangaku National Park. Different vistas depending on the season of the year can be enjoyed by guests. For people wishing to experience the new snowfall in the area, one may opt to stay in Omachi IN.
An important thing to take note of is that services for the Tateyama Kogen bus (Bijodaira-Murodo) may be suspended due to bad weather such as intense snowfall and high winds. Hence, there is the possibility of delays in the schedule. Information about the service conditions is available on the top page of their website as well as from their local station officials.
The Different Sights to See in Tateyama
Aside from the route, there are still other places to visit in Tateyama. Number one on the list is the Kurobe Dam. Recognized as the tallest dam in all of Japan, the Kurobe Dam stands at 186 meters high. Completed in the year 1963, it actually took 7 years just to complete the construction of this dam. This is because there were various difficulties that were faced in the duration of this project that also resulted to more than 170 people losing their lives over it.
At present, the dam serves as a support for a hydropower plant in supplying electricity to the region of Kansai. Considered as one of the main attractions along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, the dam provides a “show” wherein water is discharged in a spectacular manner through its gates. This is typically done on a daily basis from late June to mid-October.
There are also various modes of transportation when traveling within the route such as the Tateyama Cablecar, the Highland Bus, the Tateyama Trolley Bus, and the Tateyama Ropeway. Each mode of transportation provides a different kind of experience when traversing the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Each type also costs different depending on how fast and how convenient the type of transportation is. Regardless of the mode of transportation, guests would surely enjoy not just the view but also the experience that the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route can offer.