What can you tell me about using cable cars?

Cable Cars - Nothing like San Francisco, though!

There are many so-called "cable cars" in Japan, but most are really ropeways. They are pre-attached to the cable and are drawn directly by pulling the cable. A cable car, on the other hand, is controlled by the driver. The cable, usually underground, is constantly moving. The driver chooses to move, stop, or reverse the motion by using levers that change the car's grip on the cables.

There is one cable car that I love in Japan, which is in the Hakone onsen area. It travels from Gora to Sounzan Station, all uphill. Although the short ride of 1.2 kilometers isn't much, it is the previous ride, from Hakone Yumoto Station on the Hakone Tozan Line, that make the entire journey a thrill. That train - not a cable car - runs up a hill so steep that the railroad uses a switchback to climb it! At one point in the climb, the driver moves from the end to end, reversing the direction the train is traveling, to complete the 2nd leg of the journey.

All along the ride, you can see steep valleys sloping to the river at the bottom and other treacherous inclines, mostly filled with pines and other trees. Stunningly beautiful in every season, you are filled with anticipation as you climb to your onsen destination.

Many people incorrectly refer to both trains as the "Hakone Cable Car." It isn't exactly like San Francisco, but it is still a great experience!

by mikekato

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