Kurobe Dam begins releasing water


One of Toyama Prefecture’s main tourist attractions began operations on Tuesday as Kurobe Dam started releasing water, which will continue each day until Oct 15.

The arch dam, located in Tateyama in the Northern Alps, is Japan’s highest at 186 meters. In order to drain the dam, water is released at a rate of 15 tons per second.

The daily event draws tourists who flock to witness the scene against the backdrop of the alps.

Kansai Electric Power Co operates the dam and drains water out of the structure each year during the rainy and typhoon seasons to maintain the landscape of the Kurobe River. Water has been released every summer since 1961.

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I thought the dam was releasing water to generate power as a source of renewable energy but it seems not. Why is it a news then?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

We've seen it several times since we lived near there in my wives family village. The water makes great local beer, Azumino and the water is used for growing Wasabi. The dam generates power for Kansai Electric. installed capacity 335 MW. It's a good place to visit and spend a few days up there. The highest dam in Japan.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Although it is pretty, it looks like a lot of energy is being wasted as the water plunges down to the river below. A recent article about renewable energy generation in Oregon says 'Spilling water ... without generating power would waste the potential energy while filling the river with excess air and killing endangered salmon hatching there by "giving them the "bends".'

I wonder if excess air is an issue in Tateyama.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

There are no salmon in the river. Power is generated. The release of water comes after the snow melt and to ensure safe water levels before the start of the typhoon season which starts soon.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Actually, by regulating the river's flow, the dam will hinder landscape changes that would naturally occur due to the rainy season. Also, due to economical reasons, the installed generating capacity is generally lower than the maximum available potential energy (approx 80%), meaning that at peaks, such as this one, the water has to be released. In order to fulfill its scope and cover the "baseload", a hidrocentral must stay at its nominal capacity over 99% of its functioning time, (basically same as nuclear power). Only then can the "noisy" generators such as wind or solar be included in the network.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Before the dam was built the area suffered from excessive flooding following the snow melts and then the typhoons.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

There are 4 turbine complexes in the area, which utilise water from the dam, and some are hidden from view in large caves, with just power cables coming out of the side of the hills. A complex of tunnels was built after WW2, involving some great engineering, to supply aluminium smelting in the Kansai area. To see it all takes a few days, taking the Alpine route between Tateyama and Omachi, as well as The Kurobe Gorge railway from Unazaki to Keiyakidera. A lottery held up to 30 times each year allows people inside the dam complex and along the hidden Kurobe Senyō Railway line built in the hills, a great tour if you ever get the chance. The construction of the section called High Temperature Tunnel (高熱隧道 Kōnetsu Zuidō) was difficult. The temperature of rocks there was 160 °C (320 °F) at the time. It is now cooled off to 40 °C (104 °F). Many died during the tunneling due to pre-detonation of the dynamite.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Pretty nice country. The lake and mountains are very beautiful.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I think close to 200 died building it. You can see photos there that show people carrying in supplies on their backs along ladders that had been lashed to cliffs. As wanderlust says, there were also cave-ins and floods during the tunneling.

Its about 8000 yen return to go the dam from the east (Omachi) side, so I prefer just hiking the mountains nearby. The road up there from the Omachi Onsen area is also a nice climb on a road bike. About 600m vert @5% average.

For clear skies and beautiful colours, the best time to go is autumn.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Have had the pleasure of the complete tour highly recommend a full day is required. Our Japanese friends organised for us.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm often amazed by the difference in water availability/scarcity between my two homes in California and Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


0 ( +0 / -0 )

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