Japan’s most beautiful arch created through the legacy of Kurobe Dam

Japan’s most beautiful arch created through the legacy of Kurobe Dam

Classified as one of the century’s largest construction projects, the tallest dam in Japan celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. The beautiful arch of Kurobe Dam and its massive appearance still attract many visitors. How about visiting it during the autumn colors season, when the dam rises majestically amidst the colorful wild nature? I will also introduce the popular local dish “Kurobe Dam Curry”.

Japan’s best dam

japan’s most beautiful arch created through the legacy of kurobe dam | japan’s best dam

Kurobe Dam has the shape of a half-cut bowl and is the tallest in Japan with its height of 186 meters. The dam’s beautiful arch is 492-meter long and 8.1-meter wide, making it possible for pedestrians to walk over. But why do people keep visiting this concrete cold construction? Are they impressed only by its beautifully designed arch because of the mechanical function?

Kurobe Dam took 7 years to construct and is considered one of the century’s biggest industrial projects. After you get off the trolley bus and walk into the tunnel which leads to the dam, you will see many monochrome photos inside telling the story of its construction. Please pay attention to every photo. Then the figure of the dam after the tunnel will be even more impressive.

The photo with the beautiful arch is taken from the observatory next to Kurobe Dam. It can be reached by climbing 280 stairs, but the panorama is definitely worth seeing, so be sure to go all the way up. Water is discharged every year from June 26 till October 15, while the autumn color season starts from late October.

The stairs which look like going to the sky

japan’s most beautiful arch created through the legacy of kurobe dam | the stairs which look like going to the sky

These are the stairs which lead to the dam’s observatory. They are built around the concrete-covered mountain slope and look like going up to the sky. From the observatory you can see Kurobe Dam against Ushiro-Tateyama mountain range.

The giant bucket

japan’s most beautiful arch created through the legacy of kurobe dam | the giant bucket

On the way to the top there is a platform with a giant yellow bucket. That is a concrete bucket which was used during the dam’s construction. It’s as tall as two people, but next to the grand scale of Kurobe Dam it looks really small. There are also some wires and a giant pulley on display, so you can inspect them while having a short rest.

The local dish “Kurobe Dam Curry”

japan’s most beautiful arch created through the legacy of kurobe dam | the local dish “kurobe dam curry”

If you feel a little peckish during your walk, you should try the local specialty “Kurobe Dam Curry” which originates from Nagano prefecture’s Oomachi city. It was served for lunch to all foreign members of the International Dam Conference held in Oomachi. Japan’s local gourmet is becoming popular internationally.

The rest house next to Kurobe Dam is a popular place to try the dish. Make sure to taste the original version at the closest restaurant to the dam. On the photo to the front is Kurobe Dam Curry (1050 JPY). It is green because of a spinach base which represents the emerald color of Kurobe lake. The curry has garlic and is moderately spicy, ideal for adults. In the back is the kids curry (1050 JPY). It has some apple and is a little sweeter. The sauce used has a refined taste, unexpected for a rest house lunch at a touristic spot. Even the rice is shaped as an arch.

“Kurobe Dam Rest House” Open: 7:30~ 17:00 Open between April 10 and November 30

The “shatter belt”, a symbol of the difficult construction

the “shatter belt”, a symbol of the difficult construction

This springing water symbolizes the “shatter belt” which hindered the construction of Kurobe Dam for a long time. Now the tourists can drink it for free. It is cool and refreshing.

For the people back then this water was a big enemy. Struggling with the shatter belt where 660 tons of water and mud gushed per second, it took 7 months for the construction workers to dig 80 meters. The trolley bus now passes along the shatter belt area for about 7 seconds.

Kurobe Dam is characteristic for the harmony of the human-made concrete arch and the nature-made Northern Alps mountains. There are many good angles to see the dam from, but the view of the glittering autumn colors around the gorge against the snowy mountain range of Ushiro-Tateyama is really marvelous.

In 2013 Kurobe Dam celebrated its 50th anniversary.

It produces electricity enough for 1 million households for about one year, and is a symbol of the rapid economic development of Japan after the war. A legacy which still continues to supply energy for our daily lives.

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