Mt. Tateyama (立山), elev. 3015 m, and Mt. Tsurugi-dake (剣岳), elev. 2999
m, are without question two of
spectacular mountains in the Northern Japan Alps, if not in all of
Japan. Since the 20th
highest mountains in Japan, respectively,
are fairly close to each other, they are usually
climbed together and like Mt.
Shirouma-dake can be easily done in a
This is what I did, actually, leaving on a Friday night from Shinjuku,
Tokyo, via the Alpico highway bus and returning
back to Tokyo late on a
The 1-way bus fare from Shinjuku to Murodo is ¥13,000 and from
Osaka/Kyoto it's ¥11,000.
By far the most exhilarating part of this journey was the last 200 m or
so before reaching the summit of Mt. Tsurugi-dake. Chains, ropes,
ladders, and even built-in metal staircases were the
order of the day along this route, but the most hair-raising spots were
the two so-called “crab”
The first exciting crab section is called “kani-no-yokobai” (see pic
below), which in Japanese means crawling sideways like a crab. The
other one, as you have probably already guessed, is called
“kani-no-tatebai,” meaning crawling upwards like a crab, a pic of which
is in my photo album below.
(crawling sideways like a crab),
near the summit of Mt. Tsurugi-dake (剣岳)
I must admit that it wasn’t nearly as scary as it looks, but let’s be
clear, it’s not a place for mistakes, so if you slip and fall, there’s
a very good chance you’ll meet your maker.
addition to my primary targets for this trip....the Tateyama
of Oyama (雄山, elev. 3003 m) &
Onanji-yama (大汝山, Tateyama's highpoint) and Mt.
Japan highpoints along this route worthy of mention are Mt.
Bessan (別山, elev. 2880 m) & Mt. Masago-dake (真砂岳,
elev. 2861 m), the
37th & 43rd highest mountains in Japan, respectively.
One of the things that I like best about the hikes from the Murodo (室堂)
terminal is the breathtaking vistas one can see in the Murodo Valley
and throughout the Tateyama range, including a great view of Lake
Kurobe, which you can see in the photo album below. I also climbed Mt. Yakushi-dake
starting from Murodo (室堂).
I hope you'll have time to check out the slideshow below of my Flickr
photo album of this fabulous mountain climbing trip. I have a feeling
you're gonna agree with me
about the gorgeous scenery I saw. No disrespect to my own home country,
but we don't have anything even close to this in Texas, which may help
explain why I've lived in Japan SOOOOOO long.
Pics of Mt.
Tateyama (立山) & Mt. Tsurugi-dake (剣岳) Japan's 20th
highest peaks, respectively Oct. 5-7,
2001 (View entire
album at a glance here.)
My Google Map of Mt. Tateyama (立山) &
In Oct. 2009 I created the customized map below, as I thought it'd be
cool to see all of Japan's 25 highest mountains at a glance. Google
Maps recently added the Google Earth feature to their maps, which
offers a very impressive 3D view if you have Google Earth installed on
Using GE's tilt & rotate features, you can actually "fly"
around Mt. Ai-no-dake (間ノ岳), Japan's 4th highest mountain, and Mt.
Shiomi-dake (塩見岳), Japan's 9th highest mountain, as if you were in an
Route Map of Mt. Tateyama (立山) &
(Mouse over graph to see elevations & place names.)
Transport from Hell
The only mistake I made on this trip was to take it on the three-day
Sports Day weekend in early October. The hiking trails and mountain hut
where I stayed, Kenzan-so (open late June to Oct. 10), were
not so crowded, but the transport
services along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route on
Sunday when I
left were CRAZY.
The first segment from Murodo (室堂), the tunnel trolley bus, was no
In fact I was able to hop on it at 3:15 p.m., only 10 minutes after I
finished hiking. But in Daikanbo, I lost over 2 hours waiting for the
Tateyama cable car due to the holiday crowds. As a result, when I
finally got back to Shinano-Omachi Station (信濃大町駅), it was too late to
train back to Tokyo.
Fortunately, a Japanese guy at the station suggested we share a nearly
one-hour taxi ride
over to Nagano Station, where we could catch a shinkansen bullet train
back to Tokyo. Although this turned out to be a tad pricey, the payoff
was that I was able
to reach Tokyo
Station by 11 p.m. and sleep in my own bed that night.
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