Funicular railways are used to connect two points across a very steep or inclined place. You can find this kind of railway on hills or mountains, transporting people using a cable that pulls the carriage along slopes, which means you would be traveling either upwards or downwards on them.
As Japan has many elevations with a lot of tourist potential due to the presence of either religious monuments or resorts, such funiculars were built. Let’s see what the capital has to offer when it comes to funiculars and understand what makes them fun to ride!
Tokyo has some amazing hiking and sightseeing spots nearby such as the Chichibu Tama Kai National Park, which is home to several ancient shrines, attractive slopes, and life-saving rivers such as the Fuji River that helps meet the power demands of the region.
Also located in the National Park is Mt. Mitake and its interesting shrine, namely Musashi-mitake Jinja, at an elevation of approximately 929 meters. Apart from worshippers, the place appeals to adventure seekers and nature lovers who are looking to capture its thrill and beauty.
Started in the late ’20s, the Mitake Tozan Railway is one of the oldest funiculars in the country. It extends along the entire inclined surface of the mountain, with a distance of exactly one kilometer and two stops on the way. There is also a chairlift that is being operated by the same company on the mountain.
Also known as Mitake Mountain Railway, this funicular will no doubt provide you with a lot of excitement. Some mountaineers hike up to the shrine using various trails and later come down using the cable.
To reach Mt. Mitake, get on the Ome Line from Shinjuku Station and get off at Mitake Station, which would take at least an hour and a half to reach. From there, hop on a local bus (280 yen) that will drop you at Takimoto where the cable car station is present.
If you are familiar with Tokyo, you must have heard about Mt. Takao, an amazing hiking destination that is well known and easily accessible. It overlooks the city of Hachioji and is designated as a quasi-national park as it is rich in biodiversity. It is also a place of worship due to the presence of a temple atop and its prominence as an abode of “tengu,” the Japanese lesser god of mischief, according to folklore.
Established in the early ’20s, the Takao Tozan Electric Railway has a one-kilometer track with two Hitachi-made cable cars. The elevated Kiyotaki Station is in the middle of the route, at some 201 meters above ground level. The top station, namely Takaosan Station, is situated at a height of 472 meters above ground.
What is unique about this cable is that it is the most precipitous of all rails in Japan, with a maximum vertiginous angle of 31 degrees that will surely make you go dizzy. If you have acrophobia or vertigo, it is advised not to take this rail. There is also a ropeway that is operated under the same name with a length of 872 meters, often called the “Echo Lift.”
A ride on the Takao Tozan Electric Railway costs 480 yen per ride, which lasts some five minutes.
You can reach Takao Station by taking the Chuo Line. There is another line, namely the Keio Takao Line, connecting different areas of Hachioji that you can take to reach Takaosanguchi Station.
You can find many other funiculars in Japan that are as exciting as the aforementioned. Usually, sites such as shrines, temples, and historical monuments are built on hills or mountains, and funiculars like these are the perfect way to gain access to them.