Planning a big trip to somewhere exotic, and yet eye-opening? Set into motion your dream of travelling across the breathtaking Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (pronounced ‘Alpen’). The Route, that is set to re-open in April, is tucked between the Hida Mountains and stretches out from Toyama Prefecture to Nagano Prefecture. Our writer Adelina Tan navigates the language barrier and various modes of transport, to discover the beauty of the place.
Nagano to Ogizawa
My day begins early in Nagano to the pitter-patter of a light drizzle. I dash with Misaki – my guide from Tateyama Kurobe Kanko, the company operating most of the transportation across the Alps – to a bus stop at Nagano Station, where the 9am express bus for Shinano Omachi waits.
There are four express busses in a day, with the earliest departing at 8.15am and the latest at 2.05pm. Onboard, a recording plays announcements in Japanese, English and Chinese. The ride is over an hour long with postcard-pretty scenes outside – of quaint towns, water flowing over rocks large and small, leafy trees, and the Hida Mountains.
At Shinano-Omachi station, we head to the Alps Roman Kan, a small souvenir shop, to have my luggage forwarded to Toyama. It’s worth the 1,300 yen (about RM47) and a must for indulging your fantasies of traipsing around the Alps like Heidi, as bulky luggage will slow you down and trip you up. A winding bus ride later, we arrive at Ogizawa (1,433 metres) and board the Kanden Tunnel Trolley Bus, unique in that it’s powered by electricity to minimise pollution.