Kurobe Railway at Unazuki Onsen

The Kurobe Gorge Railway (黒部峡谷鉄道株式会社) is a private narrow-gauge railway system that operates in the gorge along the Kurobe River at Unazuki in the Toyama Prefecture. It was built to transport the construction workers and materials in and out of the gorge during the construction of the Kurobe Dam for the Kansai Electric Power Company. It was built in 1926 and extended to Keyakidaira in 1937.

The rail is still used for service and construction workers to access the dam site – which appears to be going through building phases currently. The train line was opened to the public in 1953 as a scenic sight-seeing service and it’s considered one of the most scenic train trips in Japan. The railway runs a daily schedule of open carriage trains from April to November every year, and shuts down for the winter due to the heavy snowy conditions.The startlingly green colour to the water here is due to the white granite below – I imagine in the spring it looks particularly lush and green. There are a lot of photos in this post, it was so beautiful I had a hard time editing them out. 🙂

There are multiple waterfalls down the rugged cliff sides along the route. This place has a spectacular location. The railway winds its way up the gorge past many beautiful vistas, through loads of tunnels and past several stops – some of which are open for the public to stop at and explore and others that are for the access of workers and equipment.
It got quite cold – especially in the chilly air in the tunnels and we were glad to have bought coats , scarves and beanies. I failed on the footwear front though – I should have put on my boots!Kurobe DamThe autumn colours are gorgeous.

Running alongside the length of the railway is the Winter Path – a fully enclosed concrete pedestrian tunnel that is used when it’s snowing too heavily for the trains to run, which allows the workers to continue to get access to the dam.

We could see slits in the tunnel for ventilation but I can imagine in the middle of winter – it’s bloody dark and really bloody cold walking through these concrete tunnels. Meanwhile outside in the autumn sunshine…

The water is seriously this green – I didn’t use any filters or make any image adjustments.At the end of the scenic railway track is the Keyakidaira Station where you can disembark and spend some time exploring. They have very thoughtfully built viewing platforms, a pedestrian walkway to go further into the gorge, a gift shop (of course!) and restaurants. We found ourselves some warming chicken and curry for lunch and I mostly just found that saké was helpful to warm back up again! 😀 Mr K was pretty happy wish his wash. Found a new favourite light and dry saké (I’m not super keen on the sweet ones). This one is from the Tateyama Sake Brewery and it’s called Honjozo saké. Turns out their brewery is on our way to Kanazawa tomorrow so we might try and stop by to check it out if it is open to the public. ( www.sake-tateyama.com/en/ … that’s more for me than for anyone else).

Mr K on the bridge, starting to do ‘the YMCA’… One thing we did notice was that there didn’t seem to be a lot of wildlife visible from the train. I mean, we did see some cheeky monkeys near the monkey crossing bridge on the way back but that was pretty much it. Mr K spotted this poster which was asking members of the public to report sightings of local wildlife… I have no idea what this funny looking llama crossed with a dik-dik thing is, but we didn’t see any of them.The views on the way back were just as spectacular – though some of our travelling companions mustn’t have thought so as there were many on their phones and I even saw one man sleeping on the way back.

Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous! All of the photos, no apologies. I believe the building behind this bridge with the red roofs is the Enraku – the ryokan/onsen that we have booked to stay tonight.

Oh and just because I love a good taxidermy fail – I have included this bear that I saw at the Kurobe Railway Unizaki Station! Spectacular!