Hodosan Ropeway Nagatoro
The Hodosan ropeway offers not only magnificent views, but a shortcut to the top of Mt Hodo (Hodosan). Mt Hodo is a vibrant mountain with great views in Nagatoro Town, a picturesque and tourist town of the Chichibu District. In recent years, Hodosan is a popular place to watch the sunrise. And for the first sunrise of the year (hatsuhinode) on New Year’s day annually, the ropeway operates from early morning accordingly. Chichibu district incorporates many of Saitama’s famous tourist retreats. The area is popular with Tokyoites and tourists from both Japan and abroad due to its relative proximity to Tokyo.
Mt Hodo Facts
Hodosan is not the tallest peak in Chichibu, but it offers one of the best viewpoints of the Chichibu area. In fact, at 497.1 metres Mt Hodo is smaller than the 634 metre Tokyo Skytree. However, it is taller than the highest observation deck of Tokyo Skytree, which is 450 metres off the ground. The Tokyo Skytree observation deck is just three metres short of the Hodosan Ropeway Sanjyou (lit. summit) station, at 453 metres.
Many opt to hike up to the summit of Mt Hodo. It is not a particularly strenuous or long hike so it is popular with families and novice hikers. There are some very scenic routes you can take too. The hike takes about an hour in total. It is also popular for people or families to chose to hike up to the top of Hodosan and take the ropeway back down.
Hodosan Ropeway Base Station
The literal translation of the station where you get the ropeway to go up the mountain is “base station”. This station isn’t quite at the base of the mountain at 212.7 metres high.
Hodosan Ropeway Top Station
The 240 metre incline to the summit station at 453 metres, takes only five minutes. The mountain summit is only a few minutes walk from the station where you alight. There is a great viewpoint at the back of this station.
The ropeway carriages are called Bambi and Monkey. Both are yellow, I would guess they were modelled on the beautiful yellow of the wintersweet that the mountain is famed for. They take up to 50 passengers at a time, although anything more than 30 is a squeeze. And on a crowded day, they do take the 50 which unfortunately does inhibit viewing.
Things to do near the ropeway stations
Close to base of the Hodosan ropeway is the famous and stunning Hodosan shrine. At the top of Mt Hodo there is also a branch of this shrine. Both are renowned power spots. The summit shrine has wolf komainu which while common in Chichibu are not so common elsewhere.
Near the summit there are several gardens such as the Wintersweet garden, plum blossom groves and cherry blossom trees. (More information on the seasonal scenery of Mt Hodo further down the post). There is also is a rest area with a reasonably priced restaurant close to the summit station.
The small zoo is a short walk from the top station, marked clearly with distance along the pathway from the top station. The zoo has only a few animals including rabbits, deer, Japanese monkeys, raccoons, pigs, a sheep and a couple of tortoise. It costs 430 yen for adults and 220 yen for children. If you have a Saitama Mama and Papa’s card you can get a discount on the entrance fee.
Both stations have ticket windows, ropeway staff, vending machines, commemoration photo spots and toilets. The station at the base often has a sales stall at the front of the station. The station at the top has stunning views and a picturesque flower area at the back of the station. There is also a “Peace” bell here too. They have two coin operated rides for children at this station too.
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#Wintersweet – the aptly named winter blossoms; they have the most delightful sweet fragance. And look at that #yellow ! #yellowblossom At the wintersweet garden #ろうばい園 on the top of #mounthodo #宝登山 in #Nagatoro #長瀞 #Saitama #lifeinjapan #長瀞ろうばい園 #宝登山ロウバイ園 #visitsaitama #visitnagatoro #saitamawithkids
View from Hodosan Ropeway
On our last visit to Mt Hodo this past long weekend we took the ropeway up and down. My family (four kids aged 4 to 9 years) had already been hiking and would be exploring for the rest of the day so we knew it would be the better option this trip. We didn’t have much of a view on the way up due to the crowds, but we timed it to be near the front of the line on the way back down. Thankfully, we were able to stand right by the front window and had a panoramic view:
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#Hodosan #ropeway in #Nagatoro in the #chichibu district of #saitama from https://www.insaitama.com Descending from 453 metres. Great views and only a 5 minute ride. #saitamawithkids #visitnagatoro #winterinsaitama #lifeinjapan ＃長瀞 ＃秩父 ＃宝登山 ＃宝登山ロープウェイ ＃埼玉 ＃ロープウェイ #myfirstigtvpost
The scenery changes through the seasons thanks to the variety of flowers, plants and trees on Hodosan. Currently, the Wintersweet are coming into full bloom. Next month (February) the famous plum blossoms will sprout followed closely by cherry blossoms. May brings azalea and the start of the Alpen Rose which bloom until around the middle of June. In November you can appreciate the autumn leaves and the year ends with winter sakura in bloom until around the end of the year.
In recent years, Mt Hodo has become a popular place to watch the first sunrise of the year. In accordance with that, the ropeway runs early on New Year’s day. In 2022, the ropeway will start at 6 am. Furthermore, there will be shuttle buses from Nagatoro station to the base ropeway station from 5.40 am. People using the ropeway on New Year’s morning will be gifted a pocket warmer called a Kairo in Japanese. At the summit station there will be tonjiru and amazake on sale, so you can keep warm while watching the sun rise!
Hodosan Ropeway Information
Adult and children over 12 years old – 480 yen
Children aged between 6 and 12 years – 240 yen
Children 5 years older and under are not charged
Adult and children over 12 – 820 yen
Children aged between 6 and 12 – 410 yen
Children 5 and under are free
You can bring a pet (no larger than a dog) on the ropeway, but you must pay. There is a discount for anyone with a disability handbook. They also have discounts for groups. If you own an official 2019 Saitama Prefecture Diary you can get a 10% discount on fares for the ropeway.
The ropeway doesn’t run during the week in winter unless the area is busy and then they will fire it up. They often don’t run to their weekend timetable either. On our last visit, the schedule said there was one ropeway every half hour, on the hour and half hour, but due to the crowds they actually ran them every ten to fifteen minutes.
The official guiding hours are:
First ropeway from both the base and summit stations is 9.40 am. The next one is at 10 am and then after that every half hour until 5 pm. There is one last carriage from the summit at 5.20 pm.
On New Year’s day the ropeway starts at 6 am to accommodate visitors going to watch the first sunrise from the top of Mt Hodo.
Access Hodosan Ropeway
By foot you walk straight up from Nagatoro station (with the station at your back). It is a straight run, all uphill, until you come to the roundabout (a rarity in Japan) in front of Mt Hodo Shrine. You can either go left at the roundabout and walk along the road or use a tranquil mountain pass from the car park of Hodosan shrine. It takes about 20 to 25 minutes.
There is a free shuttle bus from Nagatoro station to the ropeway base station during busy periods such as the Wintersweet festival in January and February.
If you can come by car you can park near the base station. Go left at the roundabout at the front of Hodosan shrine. Map at the bottom of the post with the car park marked. Parking costs 500 yen for the day.
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While researching this article I typed “Is Nagatoro” into google. I was planning to confirm that Nagatoro is a town (not a city), but Google predict brought up “Is Nagatoro worth visiting?” Unequivocally the answer is yes. Apart from this quaint ropeway, the stunning view and the seasonal flowers of Mt Hodo, there are many other attractions in Nagatoro. You can enjoy all the usual trappings of a tourist town (hot springs, historic buildings, amusements, activities etc), but moreover this stretch of the Arakawa river is particularly beautiful. The area is renowned for water activities, the steam locomotive and camping. There are many campsites, one of which is very close to the foot of Hodosan: