Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Slope Car on the Yatsugatake Highland

Slope car "Koi-nobori (carp streamer)" arrives at Michi-no-eki Minami-Kiyosato station

It is mid-summer in Tokyo. The maximum daytime temperature is often over 30 degrees Celsius. Yesterday's high was 34.5 degrees Celsius in the downtown area. The only thing I could do was escape to a cool highland with my family. Our destination was Minami-Yatsugatake Hana-no-mori Park (Southern Yatsugatake Flower and Forest Park) in Yamanashi Prefecture.

To enter the park, we used a slope car, because the park was situated on a hill. What is a slope car? It looks like a monorail or a funicular, but it is different from both of them. A slope car is a climbing vehicle that uses an electric motor with a rack-and-pinion driving system.

This unique system was built by Kaho Monorail Company in 2000. Connecting Magoi (Michi-no-eki Minami-Kioyosato) and Higoi (Minami-Yatsugatake Hana-no-mori Park) stations, its route length is 180 meters. The height difference between the two stations is 100 meters. The maximum inclination of the route is 40 degrees. It takes about 3.5 minutes one way. The operation is driver-less. To be exact, this transportation system is classified as an elevator under the Building Standards Act, not a monorail under the Railway Business Act. You can see a similar transportation system in Asukayama Park, Mt. Sarakura, Manna Country Club and at a resort hotel on Hakone Mountain.

A blue-colored vehicle, which can accommodate 20 passengers, is named Koi-nobori (carp streamer). It has a barrier-free structure so that the passengers on wheelchairs can easily get in and out of the vehicle while seated.

The slope car and the track