Saturday, 24 September 2011

"Takao Tozan", Japan's Steepest Cable Railway

Funicular (cable car) "Aoba", Takao Tozan Railway

Mt. Takao is a convenient sightseeing area to hang around. It’s located in a western suburb of Tokyo, and only 50 minutes from Shinjuku by a commuter train of Keio Electric Railway.

After reaching Takao-sanguchi Terminal, we have three choices to get to the top... walking, taking a lift or a funicular (cable car). I like the funicular best.

The funicular on Mt. Takao was constructed in 1927 by Takao Tozan Railway Company. Although the line length is short (1.02km), it’s famous because it's the steepest railway in Japan. The maximum inclination is 31 degrees 18 minutes.

Look at the top photo. You can see a lovely funicular, “Aoba”, whose colors are yellow and green. Aoba is going up and coming to the midcourse. The inclination of the rail is not so large there, but it gets steeper and steeper toward the top of the mountain (see the upper right in the photo). Eventually, the angle reaches the maximum just before the top station, where a tunnel covers the rail. So, it’s a thrilling experience to pass through a dark tunnel with a 31 degree 18 minutes inclination by the funicular.

Last weekend, I saw innumerable holiday makers at the summit of Mt. Takao because it was a clear and sunny day. There were couples, families with small children and groups of old people. Despite the severe electricity shortage, which was caused by the nuclear power plant disaster in March, Japanese people seemed to be restoring vitality and laughter in daily life.

Superb view of the western suburb of Tokyo from Mt. Takao

More information about Takao Tozan Electric Railway (in Japanese):