Kurobe Dam to Kurobedaira
After just 16 minutes, we’re at the Kurobe Dam, Japan’s tallest at 186 metres. It’s a spectacular sight especially when water gushes through its gates daily from late June to mid October. A long flight of stairs leads up a concrete-covered mountain slope to an observation deck, with the climb taking around 15 minutes of huffing and puffing.
Persevere, if not for the aerial view of the dam and its leafy surroundings, then for the cool and sweet mountain water gurgling from a spring along the way. Take the al fresco flight of stairs back down the slope to get even closer to the dam – a raincoat will come in handy as you may get splashed.
Come lunchtime, we head to the Dam Rest House, a laidback restaurant with large windows overlooking the dam. The house specialty is Kurobe Dam Curry: shaped and assembled to resemble a ‘lake’ of delicious curry behind a ‘dam’ of rice, with breaded fried pork cutlets doubling-up as the sightseeing cruise ships that skim the surface of Lake Kurobe. The curry is coconut-y and similar to Thai green curry in colour. Non-pork dishes are also available on the menu.
On the way to the Kurobe Cable Car, we take a stroll around the emerald-coloured lake, along the pathway leading to the jetty. At this time of the year, it’s fringed with foliage touched by the red-and-yellow-tipped brush of autumn, my favourite season! The cable car platform is another jaw-dropping sight – perched on a steep incline, stairs lead all the way up and into the waiting carriage. The entire funicular line runs under a tunnel to protect it from snow.