| Centrip Editorial Board
Enjoy a stunning landscape adorned with a snow-covered mantle and a perfect starry sky with the Shinhotaka Ropeway
Did you know that you can enjoy the beautiful winter scenery in the Chubu region of Japan? Gifu Prefecture, home to the Hida mountain range, also known as the Northern Alps, is a rare snow-covered area in the Chubu region. Particularly in the mountainous areas, it is recognized as one of Japan's leading heavy snowfall regions during winter. The mountains present a breathtaking view covered in a layer of snow, and at night, you can even enjoy a sky full of twinkling stars. There is a tourist spot that offers such an experience: the Shinhotaka Ropeway in the Okuhida Onsen region, within the Chubu Sangaku National Park.
Breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views
Riding the Shinhotaka Ropeway takes you to the observation deck on the rooftop of Nishi-Hotaka Guchi Station, located at an elevation of 2,156 meters. From this vantage point, you can enjoy a panoramic view in all directions, including the Hida mountain range featuring Kasagatake, Yarigatake, Hotaka Renge, Yakedake, and even as far as the Hakusan mountain range. The beauty of the expansive 360-degree panorama has earned it a two-star rating in the Michelin Green Guide Japan.
Moreover, this ropeway itself features a highly unusual two-story gondola. Being the only place in Japan where you can ride a two-story gondola, it attracts a large number of visitors throughout the year who come to enjoy the changing natural landscapes of the four seasons.
In spring, summer, and autumn nights, a Stargazing Service is operated for a limited time, offering celestial events to observe the seasonal night sky from the observation deck. It has been announced that this exclusive event will be held for the first time in winter this year.
In winter, the air is dry, and there is less water vapor in the atmosphere, leading to increased transparency in the sky. This allows for a clearer view of the starry sky. The Quadrantid Meteor Shower, which occurs during this season, reaches its peak activity in the first half of January. Therefore, it may be possible to observe numerous shooting stars showering down across the sky.
Winter Only: Nabedaira Kamakura Village
The Shinhotaka Ropeway consists of two ropeways, the first ropeway and the second ropeway, which you can take to reach the observation deck. Right next to the second ropeway station, Shirakaba-daira Station, the Nabedaira Kamakura Village opens for a limited time in winter. Dome tents inspired by igloos are set up here. Inside these tents, you can enjoy various traditional craft experiences like making a Sarubobo (a red doll symbolizing safe childbirth, good marriage, children's growth, and good health), Kumihimo (Japanese braiding), and Kami Ema (paper votive plaques). You can also taste locally brewed sake made from pure-delicious local water. In the station premises, you can buy and enjoy Hida beef roast beef sushi or a bento box filled with specialties from Hida at the 'Takeout Panorama' snack corner.
Adjacent to Shirakaba-daira Station is the Shinhotaka Visitor Center Sangakukan, with a naturally flowing hot spring open-air bath called Kamitakara-no-Yu. Enjoying tranquility in a hot spring while gazing at the snow silently piling up makes for a Japanese winter scene.
Alternatively, you might want to try a unique experience available only here – walking on powder snow with snowshoes .
How to get there
There are two main ways to get to the Shinhotaka Ropeway: one from Takayama and the other from Matsumoto.
When heading from the Nagoya area, whether you go through Takayama or Matsumoto, the travel time doesn't vary significantly. If you choose to go through Takayama, you can take the route from Chubu Centrair International Airport to Nagoya Station, then take JR or a bus to Takayama, and finally, take a bus from Takayama to Shinhotaka via Hirayu. If you are traveling from Nagoya to Matsumoto, it takes approximately 2 hours by JR Limited Express Shinano.
For those going through Takayama, the Marugoto Value Ticket issued by Nohi Bus is a cost-effective and convenient set ticket. It includes a round-trip ticket from Takayama Bus Center to Shinhotaka Ropeway, as well as a round-trip ropeway ticket. In addition to these, the ticket comes with various benefits such as discounts at hot spring facilities and souvenir shops. You can choose between a 2-day free plan and a 3-day free plan according to your itinerary. For more details, please check here .
When heading from the Tokyo area, you can take the JR Limited Express Azusa from Shinjuku to Matsumoto, and then take a bus from there to Shinhotaka via Hirayu. Alternatively, there is also a direct highway bus from Shinjuku to Shinhotaka.
Experiencing the Shinhotaka Ropeway, where you can enjoy the snowy landscapes of Japan's Northern Alps and the panoramic view of the starry sky unique to the clear winter air, will undoubtedly become an unforgettable memory of your journey, perhaps a memory for a lifetime. Dress warmly and consider visiting for a memorable experience.