37 kilometers between walls of snow: the roof of Japan is spectacular

A different landscape, a step from the sky: in Japan there is an enormous corridor of snow so white that it is dazzling
37 kilometers between walls of snow: the roof of Japan is spectacular
Source: iStock

The frenzy and fluorescent colors of Shibuya, the nightlife of the Osaka neighborhoods, the spirituality of Kyoto, the extraordinary delicacy of cherry blossoms: often, when you think of Japan, this is (almost) all you tend to imagine. What if we told you that in reality there is more, that there is a place one step away from the sky capable of making those who visit it think they have been teleported to the most pristine landscapes of Iceland or Antarctica?

No, it's not a dream and it's not science fiction: it's the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, a tourist route that has attracted thousands of people since 1971 and which offers those who visit it the opportunity to have a unique experience, touching high walls of snow, drinking hot sake and immersing yourself in regenerating thermal waters.

The high walls and the paths

Also called "Roof of Japan“, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is not a place accessible all year round. In the months between July and March it remains strictly closed to the public, which allows the body that manages it to correctly control the abundant quantities of snow that fall during the coldest period.

Precisely this very accurate control led to the creation of a road 37 kilometers long in total and characterized by high walls of snow mixed with rock, now solidly stratified. As, from April to June the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route opens to the public in complete safety.

37 kilometers between walls of snow: the roof of Japan is spectacular

The walls, which take the name of Yukino-ōtani, rise from 15 to 20 meters high and flank a good part of the route and at least twenty-seven paths which divide the area into small zones. In some cases they have been transformed into real tunnels inside which it is possible to enter, not too long but certainly enchanting due to the changing light and the play of light that the sun's rays create based on the time of day.

Exploring the “Roof of Japan”

For those interested in having the experience, reaching the entrance to this suggestive place is very easy: just arrive by train at the Ogizawa or Tateyama stations and take the appropriate bus. Once you arrive, just don't be overwhelmed by the beauty of the place and stay focused long enough to decide how to explore the area. Visitors, in fact, can choose to explore the route and the surrounding area in complete autonomy or to participate in excursions, guided tours and themed walks.

A series of signs indicate how far it is possible to go and guide the journey leading to different destinations: from the Japanese temple of Oyama, where you can receive a special blessing and drink a boiling sake, to the Tateyama onsen, known for its baths sulphurous, passing through the commercial area of ​​Murodo, where you can buy souvenirs and refresh yourself with a good ramen.

37 kilometers between walls of snow: the roof of Japan is spectacular

During the opening period of the route, the so-called Yuki no Otani Festival [Snow Corridor Festival ed.] also takes place, which is divided into two macro-events: from 15 April to 21 May you can visit the coldest and wildest part of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, while from 22 May to 15 June, when the weather is warmer, you can push together with the guides towards theago Mikurigaike, dotted with floating ice, and participate in the “hunt” for capercaillie and ptarmigan.

The sighting of these two birds is rare, but according to local customs, looking for them is a good omen and, should they be sighted, it is said that one will come rewarded with an enormous fortune. Whether it's truth or legend, there's no harm in trying!

Glimpses of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

If what we have already said were not a sufficient reason to think about a trip to this wonderful place where the rules of space and time do not seem to apply, the area of ​​the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route also has other notable advantages: pristine views, not marked by human impact, which can be visited based on the week in which you are visiting. An extraordinary example is the pianura di Midagahara, a vast expanse that includes blue lakes, so crystalline that they can be reflected in their waters (or in their ice).

Another example are the Shōmyō waterfalls (which, moreover, are the highest in Japan), which in addition to being easily reachable thanks to a slope that is not too difficult to walk, are admirable thanks to a suspended wooden bridge.

37 kilometers between walls of snow: the roof of Japan is spectacular

If, in the end, you are thinking of visiting this enchanting place, don't forget to wear the appropriate clothing. And don't leave them at home sunglasses: the reflection of the sun's rays on the snow, in fact, is so dazzling that it also requires eye protection. Have a good trip!

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