National

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route featuring massive snow walls opens for season in Toyama

Kyodo

A sightseeing route that includes massive walls of snow running through the Tateyama mountain range in central Japan opened Monday for this year’s tourist season.

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, which is closed for most of the winter, connects the town of Tateyama, in Toyama Prefecture, with the city of Omachi in Nagano Prefecture in the Northern Alps by bus and cable car.

The sightseeing route is open through Nov. 30 each year, and for a while after it opens in the spring visitors can witness the impressive volume of snow as they walk through the “Yuki no Otani,” or “large ravine of snow,” which is created after snow that fell during the winter is removed from the route.

Kansai Electric Power Co. said it has started using new battery-powered buses instead of trolley buses to run through one of the tunnels that form part of the sightseeing route.

The pathway for tourists walking below the snow walls, which this year extend up to 16 meters high on each side of the road, was closed Monday due to snowstorms.

Also on Monday buses linking Bijodaira, at an altitude of 977 meters, and Murodo terminal, at an altitude of 2,450 meters, both in Tateyama, did not run due to bad weather.

The operator of the route said it is aiming to attract 1 million visitors this year, an increase of around 20,000 from last year, as the number of foreign tourists in Japan continues to grow.