Thursday, October 23, 2014

Aerial Tramway and Boat Tour in the Chichibu Area

Gondola number 2, "Bambi", of the Hodosan Ropeway
 
Mt. Hodo is a small mountain in the Chichibu area of Saitama Prefecture, which is located 70 km northwest of Tokyo. Following my visit in 2012, I headed to this scenic spot again last month. To reach its 497 m peak, it is convenient to take an aerial tramway, called Hodo-san Ropeway.

Hodo-san Ropeway was opened in 1961 by a subsidiary of Chichibu Railway. It delivers passengers between Sanroku (foot of the mountain) and Hodo-sancho (summit of Mt. Hodo) stations in 5 minutes. The route is only 832 meters long. The height difference between the highest and lowest points of the route is 236 m. A total of 2 gondolas, which can hold 50 people each, are operated every half an hour at the speed of 3.6 meters per second.

The riveting steel gondolas, which were manufactured in 1960 by Nippon Sharyo, look aged and out of date, but the classic design is very nostalgic and my favorite. They are gondola number 1 called Monkey and number 2 called Bambi, which was named after the fawn in the famous Austrian fairy tale.


After visiting Mt. Hodo, I descended the mountain and headed to Arakawa River, where I enjoyed a boat tour, which paddled down the river on a traditional boat without an engine. A local waterman piloted the boat and shot the meandering rapids perfectly. It was a thrilling adventure for holidaymakers. Cool!

The nostalgic aerial tramway and the splashing boat... early autumn in the Chichibu area is a satisfactory spot to visit.
 
Arakawa River boat tour near Nagatoro Station