| Centrip Editorial Board
Experience the Thrills of Winter: Take the Komagatake Ropeway to Senjojiki Cirque, Japan's Highest Station, for Snow Play with Your Kids
Snowshoe tour around Senjojiki Cirque, the highest station in Japan
The Japanese Alps, AKA the Roof of Japan, is a majestic mountain range featuring towering peaks over 3,000 meters high. The Komagatake Ropeway takes you directly under the mighty Mt. Hōken in the Central Alps, offering a thrilling journey to Senjojiki Cirque, Japan's highest station perched at 2,612 meters. What's more, the 950-meter vertical ascent from the ropeway's starting point at Shirabidaira is the highest in Japan.
The Komagatake Ropeway offers convenient access to an elevation of almost 3,000 meters and is a favorite destination among foreign travelers seeking breathtaking views of Japan's four seasons. At Senjojiki Cirque, you'll be captivated by the alpine flora in bloom during the summer and the stunning hues of autumn foliage. But when the snow falls, Senjojiki Cirque transforms into a winter wonderland perfect for snow play with your kids.
During the winter season at Senjojiki Cirque, guided tours are offered that provide a thrilling opportunity to revel in the stunning panorama of snow-clad mountains and enjoy playing in the snow with snowshoes. Snowshoes are essential gear for walking on snow, allowing you to walk on soft snow without sinking. Children can also join in the snowshoe tour for an unforgettable experience. Once you try snowshoeing while taking in the magnificent winter scenery, you'll undoubtedly become hooked. So don't miss the chance to don your snowshoes on your next trip to Japan and indulge in a fun-filled snow play adventure!
Snowshoeing with children
Suganodai Bus Center
Private vehicles are not permitted to enter Shirabidaira, the starting point of the Komagatake Ropeway. If you plan to travel by car, you will need to park at the Suganodai Bus Center parking lot and take a bus to Shirabidaira.
At the Suganodai Bus Center, you can purchase a combo ticket for the bus and ropeway. The round-trip fare is 4,200 yen (half-price for children). The bus ride takes about 30 minutes from Suganodai Bus Center, located at about 850m, to Shirabidaira, at an altitude of about 1,800m. During winter, the bus departs every hour starting at 8:00 am. Just hop on the red bus and head for Shirabidaira.
Fat Komagatake ropeway
Disembark from the bus and hop on the ropeway from Shirabidaira. Although the ropeway ride lasts only 7 minutes and 30 seconds, it covers a height difference of 950m! The view outside the window transforms rapidly into a breathtaking world of snow-capped mountains that one might have only seen in movies.
At an altitude of 2,612m, Senjojiki Cirque is the highest station in Japan and the last stop on the ropeway. Upon disembarking, you'll be taken aback by the chic atmosphere, which defies the expectations of a typical mountaintop station.
Connected to Senjojiki Cirque is Hotel Senjojiki, which features a range of amenities, including restaurants, souvenir shops, and a new VIP lounge. The hotel offers overnight stays for the visitors to admire the incredible starry skies at night.
You can book snowshoe tours at the front desk of Hotel Senjojiki, which is open from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. You can rent the necessary equipment, including snowshoes, poles, and boots. Once you have everything you need, ready yourself for -20ºC and explore the snowy wilderness
Snowshoeing in the Senjojiki Cirque
When we visited Suganodai, the weather was clear but worsened as we gained altitude. Unfortunately, there was a slight snowstorm near Senjojiki Cirque, resulting in poor visibility (it's said that Senjojiki Cirque experiences clear weather only about 50% of the time in winter). While we would have preferred to visit on a clear day to capture the spectacular views of snow-capped mountains, the children were still thrilled to see their first snowfall.
In the frigid weather, the children trailed closely behind the guide, heedless of their parent's worries (Are they okay?!). They were thrilled to be ascending the mountain. A short distance from the ropeway station, we played in the snow. They frolicked to their hearts' content on the powdery snow that was forgiving even if they tumbled down. After about 30 minutes, the kids couldn't handle the cold any longer, and we headed back to the ropeway station.
Hotel Senjojiki Restaurant (2612Cafe&Restaurant)
Upon finishing our snowy adventures, we headed back to Hotel Senjojiki for lunch at a restaurant. Recently renovated, the restaurant has a stylish atmosphere and provides stunning views of the snow-capped Southern Alps, visible through its windows on clear days.
The restaurant offers more than standard menu items like curry and rice, omelet rice, and hot dogs. They also serve a specialty dish of Komagane City called Komagane Sauce Katsudon. This unique dish features rice topped with shredded cabbage and a cutlet dipped in sauce. Its slightly strong seasoning is quite addictive. It's a hearty dish, and the warm rice tasted even better after playing in the cold snow, and the children gobbled it up in one go.
Snowshoeing in Shirabidaira
Shirabidaira, where the ropeway ends, offers an opportunity to experience snowshoeing. The altitude is 950 meters lower than Senjojiki Cirque, so it's not as cold, an option if the weather up top isn't ideal.
The area around Shirabidaira is full of freshly fallen fluffy snow, as it is a place where not many people pass by. It was the first time for the children to play in such heavy snow. They forgot about the cold and had a great time running around.
Access from Nagoya to Komagatake Ropeway
When using a car, enter the expressway from the Nagoya IC and get off at the Komagane IC via the Chuo Expressway from Komaki JCT. From the Komagane IC, it is a short distance from the Suganodai Bus Center. The trip takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes. In winter, snow tires are necessary as the road may be icy.
You can also take an express bus from the Meitetsu Bus Center to the Suganodai Bus Center.
When using the train, take the Limited Express, Wide View Shinano, from JR Nagoya Station and get off at Shiojiri Station. From there, take the JR Chuo Main Line to Tatsuno Station, board the JR Iida Line, and get off at Komagane Station. It takes about 3.5 to 4 hours.
The scenery of deep snow mountains is like a scene from a movie, making the snowshoeing experience there unforgettable. The Komagatake ropeway will transport you to a surreal world in no time, where you can easily immerse yourself in playing in the snow. While you enjoy the winter wonderland, take all the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the cold. Your visit to Senjojiki Cirque and Shirabidaira will be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure not soon forgotten.