23rd December 2012.
Upon finding out that there might be a chance of clear weather in the morning, we headed straight for Shin-Hotaka, hoping to catch a glimpse of the snow-capped mountains of the Japanese Alps before the weather gets worse.
We visited the ropeway the previous day but the mountains further down from Hirayu Onsen was shrouded in thick fog and it was drizzling. The visibility was extremely poor.
What a huge contrast it was on our second trip to Shin-Hotaka! The skies cleared up, revealing a beautiful azure skies and the best part, a clear panoramic view of the surrounding mountains of Shin-Hotaka. The majestic white peaks of the Japanese Alps were simply breath-taking.
The Shin-Hotaka Ropeway (新穂高ロープウェイ) is known for its double decker gondola cars and most notably its sudden climb of 1000 metres up the side of the Hotake Mountain Range. The ropeway is separated into two parts. The first part is a 200 metre climb to Nabedaira Kogen where the Shin-Hotaka Visitors Center is located with some restaurants around it.
The highlight of the ropeway is the second part where the double decker ropeway climbs over 800 metres to the station on top, at an altitude of about 2150 metres and in the process, allowing its passengers to catch a picturesque panorama of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
At 2150 metres, the snow was very thick, with snow walls taller than 170 cm. Despite the cold temperatures of below zero, we had a great time enjoying the views and being amazed by the trees with icicles or snow sculpted by the strong winds. It was magnificent.
The entire return trip cost 2800 Yen and I recommend making the long journey here just to see the views here. Just make sure you check the weather beforehand and the webcam images before making your way here.
This is also very popular attraction among locals and tourists alike, so expect a crowd even at its opening time during the holidays and weekends.
After a great trip to Shin-Hotaka, we returned to Takayama to board our bus to our next destination : Shirakawa-go.
When in Japan, one shouldn’t miss out on exploring its vending machines….we spotted one that sells hot food similar to the one Anthony Bourdain tried French Fries on his highway pit stop in A Cook’s Tour featuring his trip to Atami hot springs from Tokyo.
Out of curiosity (and partly hunger), I had the Yakisoba. It came out piping hot with shreds of cabbage, ginger and pork. The noodles was a tad dry but evenly coated with sauce. Surprisingly, it wasn't mashy at all. Overall, I thought it was not bad.
Shin-Hotaka Ropeway (website)
To get there, you can take a Nohi Bus from Takayama Bus Terminal, it takes about an hour and cost about 2100 Yen if you take a one-way trip and 4200 Yen for a round-trip. Using the 2D Shin-Hotaka Pass, 4000 Yen for unlimited rides along this route for 2 days, allowing you to stop by and visit Hirayu Onsen and various other onsens along the way as well.
Check the Nohi Bus website for more information on the buses too.