TOYAMA, Japan (Kyodo) -- A sightseeing route featuring tall snow walls that runs through the Tateyama mountain range in central Japan opened Monday for this year's tourist season.
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, which is closed over most of the winter, connects the town of Tateyama in Toyama Prefecture and the city of Omachi in Nagano Prefecture in the Northern Alps by bus and cable car.
The sightseeing route is open through Nov. 30 each year and visitors can walk through a pathway next to the snow walls called the "Yuki no Otani Walk" created by snow removal work.
Kansai Electric Power Co. said it started using new battery-powered buses instead of trolley buses to run through a tunnel that forms part of the sightseeing route.
The pathway for tourists walking around the snow walls, as tall as 16 meters each side of the road this year, was closed Monday due to snowstorms. The bus service for part of the route, between Bijodaira, at an altitude of 977 meters, and Murodo at an altitude of 2,450 meters, both in Tateyama, was also closed due to bad weather.
The operator of the route said it aims to attract 1 million visitors this year, up around 20,000 from the previous year, considering the growing number of foreign tourists.