The White Canyons of Toyama: Getting Up Close to Walls of Snow


“Snow Corridor” in the Northern Alps

At 2,450 meters above sea level, Murodō, the terminal for an electric trolley bus service, is known as the “highest station in Japan.” Situated at the summit of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, connecting Nagano and Toyama Prefectures via a series of trains, cable cars, buses, and ropeways, the station is completely snowed in during winter. The snow is particularly deep where it blows into valleys on the slopes to the west. Once the road is cleared each spring, it creates Yuki-no-Ōtani, the “great canyons of snow” with walls that tower 10 to 20 meters high on the sides of the road.

Getting up close and personal with walls of snow 20 meters high.
Getting up close and personal with walls of snow 20 meters high.

On the Tateyama Yuki-no-Ōtani Walk, from mid-April to mid-June, an area some 500 meters from the Murodō station is opened up for visitors to get up close with these gigantic, glittering walls. Many tourists come for this sight, as well as such offerings as giant igloos and a massive snow labyrinth to play in. There is still plenty of snow on the surrounding peaks even in the late spring, and with temperatures still not getting much above 10ºC at this time, cold-weather gear is recommended.

Access: Seven minutes by Tateyama Cable Car from Tateyama Station (the terminal on the Toyama Chihō Railway’s Tateyama Line) to Bijodaira, then 50 minutes by Tateyama Kōgen Bus from Bijodaira to Murodō.

Website: Tourism Information in Toyama (Snow Wall)

(Banner photo: Towering walls of snow extend on both sides of the cleared road. Photos courtesy of the Toyama Prefectural Tourism Association; additional information from the Toyama Prefecture Tourism and Regional Promotion Bureau.)

Toyama tourism nature Hokuriku Kurobe Tateyama Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route landscape