Although the weather has warmed up a bit around Japan, one place has recently begun its biggest celebration of the snow. The Snow Corridor Festival held at the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a beautiful spectacle that is unique to the country and only available to view for a few months annually. This year marks the 51st anniversary of its first clearing. Here is everything you should know.
The Snow Corridor on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is not just a local attraction. These towering walls of snow found in the Japanese Alps have captivated people from around the world. Covering a distance of around 500 meters and standing about 20 meters high, this route is an annual display of craftsmanship and natural scenery. A team of snow plow operators work together every year to carve a magnificent path through the snow that has amassed during the winter, resulting in the clean-cut walls that thousands of visitors come to admire.
The Snow Corridor is a small—but the most famous—part of a larger, 30-kilometer route that runs from Tateyama Station to Ogizawa Station in Toyama Prefecture.
At first, it was just wide enough for a bus to pass through, and led to plenty of iconic photos of passenger buses driving along the almost perfectly vertical snow walls. It has been made wider over the years to accommodate a footpath for visitors to walk through. The height of the wall depends on the snowfall each year, with the highest recorded walls reaching 23 meters in 1981. That’s as tall as a seven-story building! The walls were immensely popular with tourists in Asia and the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route has become one of the largest mountain sightseeing routes in the world.
Besides the tour buses that run inside the corridor, there are many other sights and ways to traverse the Alpine Route. You can take a cable car from Tateyama Station to nearby Bijodaira Station or the Toyama Chiho Railway. For those who want more of a bird’s eye view of the scenery, try the Tateyama Ropeway, an aerial tram that runs more than 1.7 kilometers and has claimed the title of longest one-span ropeway in Japan.
As access to the snowy attractions is time-sensitive, you will want to make sure that you plan accordingly. The Snow Corridor Festival opened on April 15 and will welcome visitors until June 25. Make sure to bring some layers, a good camera, and a traveling companion to share the views with. For any details on ongoing campaigns at Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, check out the official website below.