Kurobe Gorge [黒部峡谷]

Kurobe Gorge Railway
Kurobe Gorge Railway

Sarutobikyo in Kurobe Gorge
Sarutobikyo in Kurobe Gorge

Map of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Kurobe Gorge is a large gorge along the middle and upper parts of Kurobe River.

The length of Kurobe River is only about 85 km.
But the headwaters of the river are at the level of more than 2,900 meters in Northern Alps.

So the rapid stream of the river has formed a long, deep and steep gorge.

Two third of total length of the river is the gorge, and it is called Kurobe Gorge.

This gorge separates Northern Alps and Mount Tateyama.

It is the greatest gorge in Japan and is a typical V-shaped valley.
It is designated as a special national treasure, and is a part of National Park.

The entrance is Unazuki hot spring resort (宇奈月温泉).

And Kurobe Gorge Railway (黒部峡谷鉄道) runs along the gorge from Unazuki to Keyakidaira at the middle part of Kurobe River.

Farther part of the gorge from Keyakidaira is called Shimo-no-rouka (下廊下).

The part is a very steep gorge.
There is a trekking route, but it has many severe and dangerous sections on the route, so only hardy hikers can walk the route.

And at the upper part of the river, there is Kurobe Dam (黒部ダム).

General tourists can visit the dam as a spot on Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.

Because Shimo-no-rouka is a dangerous section, you can't plan the route of travel from Keyakidaira to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.

Kurobe Trip

Unazuki Onsen (宇奈月温泉)

Unazuki Onsen town
Unazuki Onsen town
Photo by Toyama Prefectural Tourism Association

Fountain of hot spring by Unazuki-Onsen station
Fountain of hot spring by Unazuki-Onsen station
Photo by Kurobe Unazuki-onsen Tourist Board

Unazuki Onsen is the largest hot spring resort in Toyama Prefecture.

It is located about 15 km east-southeast of Kurobe city, and about 5 km from the entrance of Kurobe Gorge.

There are many hotels and ryokans in the valley formed by Kurobe River.
It is the good point to travel Kurobe Gorge.

This hot spring resort was opened in 1923 when the construction of Kurobe Dams started.
The hot spring water is drawn from Kuronagi hot spring located about 7 km up to Kurobe River.

There is the terminal station of Toyama Chihou Railway from Toyama city, and Kurobe Gorge Railway starts from here.

Kurobe Gorge Railway (黒部峡谷鉄道)

Kayakidaira of Kurobe Gorge Railway
Keyakidaira station of Kurobe Gorge Railway

Train of Kurobe Gorge Railway
Train of Kurobe Gorge Railway

Map of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Kurobe Gorge Railway is a railway running along Kurobe River to Keyakidaira (欅平).

Originally it is a railway for carrying the materials to some dams on Kurobe River, and was constructed in 1923.

After the completion of the dams, the railway has been operated as the scenic railroad of Kurobe Gorge for visitors since 1971.

Because of the railway for the construction, the gauge is narrow (only 762 mm).
So the cars are small.

Because this area has much snow in winter, this railway is operated from late April to the end of November.

Kuronagi station
Kuronagi station
Photo by Toyama Prefectural Tourism Association

Open-air bath of Kuronagi Onsen
Open-air bath of Kuronagi Onsen
Photo by Toyama Prefectural Tourism Association

The distance from Unazuki to Keyakidaira is about 20 km, and it takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
On the route, there are 41 tunnels and 22 bridges.

For the traveller, there are two stations on the way.

They are Kuronagi (黒薙) and Kanetsuri (鐘釣) stations.

Kanetsuri station
Kanetsuri station
Photo by Toyama Prefectural Tourism Association

Bridge near Kanetsuri station
Bridge near Kanetsuri station
Photo by Toyama Prefectural Tourism Association

Both areas are in the deep gorge and there are hot springs.
No one lives around the area, but there is an hot spring inn around Kuronagi station and two inns around Kanetsuri station.

There is no road in this gorge, so these inns open only during the period that the railway is operated.

Kurobe Gorge Railway

Keyakidaira (欅平)

Observatory of Keyakidaira station
Observatory of Keyakidaira station
Photo by Kurobe Unazuki-onsen Tourist Board

Okukane Bridge near Keyakidaira
Okukane Bridge near Keyakidaira
Photo by Toyama Prefectural Tourism Association

Keyakidaira is the terminal station of Kurobe Gorge Railway.

An observatory, a visitor center and a footbath are near the station.

The popular spot around the station is Sarutobikyo about 600 meters from the station and Hitokui-iwa about 300 meters from the staion.

Sarutobikyo
Sarutobikyo
Photo by Toyama Prefectural Tourism Association

Hitokui-iwa
Hitokui-iwa
Photo by Kurobe Unazuki-onsen Tourist Board

Sarutobikyo (猿飛峡) is the narrowest point of Kurobe Gorge and there is an observatory.

Hitokui-iwa (人喰岩) is the spot that a path runs under a huge rock of the cliff.

There are a few hot springs with small inn around Keyakidaira.

The hikers exploring Shimo-no-rouka start from here.

Shimo-no-rouka (下廊下)

Simple bridge on the trekking route

S-jikyo

Shimo-no-rouka is the deep and narrow part of Kurobe River from Keyakidaira to Kurobe Dam.
The length is about 20 km.

The river has a rapid current, and the both riversides have very steep rocky cliffs.
This area is almost inaccessible for humans.
Of course, there is no house along this area.

There is S-jikyo (S字峡) about 10 km from Keyakidaira.
It is a gorge that the river makes S-shaped curve.

Jujikyo

Hakuryukyo

There is Jûjikyo (十字峡) about 12 km from Keyakidaira.
"Jûji" means "cross", and two rivers flows into Kurobe River from right and left like a crossroad.

Hakuryukyo (白竜峡) is about 14 km from Keyakidaira.
White steep cliffs stand verticality, and the area is most dangerous to walk.

Most parts of the path are set on the wall of rocky cliff, and some sections have no path.
The hikers sometimes must climb ladders and cross simple bridges.
There are also the places you must climb the rock using a chain.

How to get here

From Toyama to Unazuki-onsen, by Toyama Chihou Railway, about 1 hour and 10 minutes by limited express, about 1 hour and 35 minutes by local train.

Or, by Hokuriku Shinkansen, change to Toyama Chihou Railway at Kurobe-Unazuki-onsen station. (The station name of Toyama Chihou Railway is Shin-Kurobe.)
From Shin-Kurobe to Unazuki-onsen, about 18 minutes by limited express, about 30 minutes by local train.

Hotels around Kurobe Gorge

Hotels around Kurobe Gorge

Other Tourist Attractions in Toyama Prefecture

Toyama city Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Takaoka city Amaharashi coast Shogawa Gorge Gokayama historic village

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