While spring is blooming in Tokyo with the city's parks looking beautiful in colourful wisteria and tulips, other parts of Japan are still covered in snow. One of the country's snowiest places is the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, which connects Toyama and Nagano prefectures. It's so wintry here that the area's annual Yuki no Otani Festival (or Snow Corridor Festival) is taking place until June 25.
The festival is split into two stages, the first from April 15 to May 21 and the second from May 22 to June 25.
Stage 1: April 15-May 21
During the first stage, you can see the best of the area's beautiful winter scenery, including the striking snow corridor. The snow corridor is a 500-metre-long path along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route near the Murodo Plateau. The trail is lined by towering snow walls up to 20 metres tall. With a maximum altitude of 2,450 metres, the area sees heavy snowfall throughout winter. In spring, the road finally opens up when snowploughs clear away the snow, resulting in these massive walls. One part of the road is open for pedestrians to wander through this icy wonderland.
Running parallel to the snow corridor is the Panorama Road, which offers a different snow experience. Open daily between April 15 and May 7 from 10am to 3pm, the promenade provides great views of the Tateyama mountain range.
Before venturing through the snow corridor or the Panorama Road, make sure to check out the large snowplough that’s used to move masses of snow to the sides of the road (on display from April 15 to June 25).
Stage 2: May 22-June 25
The second stage of the festival from May 22 to June 25 focuses on the changing of the seasons, with the snow starting to recede from late May and revealing early summer greenery. During this part of the event, you can see the clear blue surface of Mikurigaike lake dotted with floating ice and snow. This is also the time to spot grouse, a rare bird that's most active in the Tateyama area from late May to late June.
To get to the Yuki no Otani Festival, hop on the Tateyama cable car that departs from Tateyama Station in Toyama prefecture and get off at Bijodaira Station. From there, it’s another 50-minute ride to Tateyama Murodo via the Tateyama Highland Bus.
For more information, check the festival website.
This article was originally published on March 30 2022 and updated on April 18 2023.
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