4 Amazing and Breathtaking Aerial Lifts You Should Ride in Japan

  • Japan has various ropeways located in breathtaking locations that one must visit. There are approximately 170 ropeways, of which 36 are seasonal, that transport people and goods to elevated places in Japan. However, when it comes to “funitels,” a special type of aerial lift that originated from France, only four can be found in the entire country.

    If you are unaware of what a “funitel” is, they are slightly longer in size compared to a normal gondola lift and are mostly used to carry goods, thus they normally do not have seats. More and more ski resorts are making use of funitels to carry multiple numbers of people over the slopes at a higher speed. Funitels are also much safer under extreme weather conditions as they use two or more metallic cables/ropes.

    Now that you know what funitels are, check out these four that will take you over some amazing landscapes in Japan!

    1. Hashikurasan Ropeway

    Tokushima is one gorgeous prefecture home to the Onaruto Bridge and the Iya Valley. Since it is located in Shikoku, an island that is sparsely populated because of its high terrain, powerful rivers, and dense forests, one could expect amazing views like no other.

    Mt. Hashikura in the calm and less-populated Miyoshi City is a mountain deemed sacred by many locals because of the presence of Hashikuraji Temple. To reach the top of the mountain, a 948-meter-long funitel line has been created, through which a cabin could carry as many as 32 people at once.

    The unique thing about this funitel is that it is the only ‘aerial tramway’ operated in Japan. There are only a few aerial tramways in the world; they are operated to carry as many cabins as possible and have a continuous loop motion, as opposed to a normal lift which keeps running to and fro at the same time.

    Hashikurasan Ropeway Website *Japanese only

    2. Hakone Ropeway

    Started as a normal gondola lift, the Hakone Ropeway is now a funitel operating in the beautiful Hakone area visited by many people for its hot springs and volcanic activity. If you are based in Tokyo and planning to visit Odawara or Lake Ashi, you must ride this funitel as it offers a plenitude of views. It runs between Sounzan and Togendai, making a stop at Owakudani at a height of 1,044 meters.

    You can get more information about this ropeway by contacting the Odakyu Group, which is a very famous train company that connects Tokyo with nearby scenic spots such as Enoshima and Hakone. Extending over 2.5 miles (0.9 miles from Sounzan to Owakudani and 1.6 miles from Owakudani to Togendai), the ropeway takes you on a mind-blowing ride over some amazing spots that can only be seen from the top.

    Hakone Ropeway Website

    3. Tanigawadake Ropeway

    Mt. Tanigawa in Gunma is a beautiful mountain that looks spectacular all year round – it is covered in snow in the winter and makes a great spot for skiers and snowboarders, while it gets filled with colors during the warmer months, especially in autumn where red leaves take over the place. This 2.3-kilometer ropeway became a funitel in 2005, and it can carry hundreds of people on a magical ride that lasts approximately 10 minutes.

    Tanigawadake Ropeway Website *Automatic translation available

    4. ZAO Ropeway

    Mt. Zao is an auspicious mountain popular among skiers and tourists in the winter. As you climb the mountain, you would see hundreds of trees covered in rime, making them look like naturally carved giant snow sculptures. It makes for a fascinating view that attracts many. The slopes of the mountain are perfect for skiing, which is why lots of people visit Yamagata’s Zao Onsen, the best ski resort you can find in Tohoku.

    If you want to reach the highland where you can witness hard rime, take the Sanroku Line, which is a normal lift that is part of the ZAO Ropeway. However, if your intention is to reach the summit, take the 1.8-kilometer-long funitel ropeway called the Sancho Line.

    ZAO Ropeway Website

    Now that you know where these amazing funitels are in Japan and the views they offer, would you take a ride on one of them? Also, there might be more funitels coming to other places in the country in the future.