Overall itin – Tokyo > The Alpine route (East to West) > Kurobe Gorge > Shin-hotaka > Kamikochi > Tokyo
The Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine route is the one of the most spectacular during fall foliage season. It descends from Murodo side from 2700m+ from mid September.
We visited in mid-Oct when peak fall foliage descended to about 1800-2200m. We took a “East-to-West” route, commencing from Ogizawa (on Nagano side) and exit in Tateyama (on Toyama side). We stayed in Omachi onsen-go the night before. While no car is allowed, all have to take 6 different types of transports within this route. Even though it was on a normal day, there were loads of tourists so we had to queue up between 5 to 20min.
From Ogizawa @1400m to Daikanbo @2300m (Nagano side)
The most beautiful fall foliage was between Kurobe-daira @1850m to Daikanbo. While we were walking across the Kurobe dam @1400m, water was released from the Kurobe lake. The ride on the ropeway was the highlight, where we were in a sea of colourful foliage.
Murodo @2450m to Tateyama (Toyama side)
Once arrived at Murodo, we had a quick bite and took a walking trail of about 1hr. Fall foliage up there had passed its peak in the ponds such as Mikuriga-ike, however, we were lucky to have spotted some rare birds – Thunderbird (Raicho). We stayed in the Tateyama hotel – probably the highest hotel in Japan. Chose a French course and surprisingly it was better than expected, including its service. The next morning when we woke up we were literally above a sea of clouds. Thus, before descending we took a quick stroll along the walking trail to take advantage of clear blue sky and reflections in the ponds. Took the only highland bus, descended to Midagahara @1900m and did some trekking there for some fall foliage, though the peak had passed as well. On the way down from the bus, we passed Kobo probably @1600m and the colours were at peak! Next, we descended to Bijodaira @1100m where there were some huge Sugi trees. As it was turning late and it was well below the foliage zone, we decided to skip it and exit the Alpine route – we still had to travel to Unazuki onsen for overnight stay.