Thursday, July 11, 2013

Komakusa Community on the Shirane Volcano Ropeway

Shirane Volcano Ropeway (godola lift)
 
The Japan Meteorological Agency made an announcement that this year's rainy season ended on July 6th in the Tokyo metropolitan area, which means midsummer has begun. Daily temperatures frequently top 35 degrees Celsius in Tokyo. The only thing I can do is escape the city and go to the highlands. I visited Shirane Volcano with my family last weekend. It is located in Gunma Prefecture, some 150km north west of Tokyo. The Shirane Volcano area is cool even in summer as the altitude of the summit is more than 2,000m.

There are several famous spots around the volcano. Natural Komakusa community is one of such unmissable places. Komakusa is an alpine flora indigenous to Japan. It is blooms with tiny pink flowers in early summer in the highlands of Japan. Kumakusa means "grass of horse" in Japanese. As its name suggests, the shape of a flower is similar to a horse's head (see the following photo). I saw countless numbers of blossoms on the fringe of an old crater wall. It was really gorgeous.

To see this natural flower community, Shirane Volcano Ropeway is convenient. It is a gondola lift, whose total operating length is 2.4km (see the top photo). Six-seater gondolas are operated every minute. It takes about ten minutes from Sanroku (foot of the mountain) to Sancho (summit) Station. The gondolas were manufactured by CWA Company in Switzerland. After arriving at Sancho Station, visitors can transfer to a chairlift, which leads to the Komakusa community.

 
Komakusa community near Sancho Station on the Shirane Volcano Ropeway