Kachikachiyama Ropeway「カチカチ山ロープウェイ」 is located along the lower eastern part of Lake Kawaguchi and this ropeway takes visitors from Kawaguchiko-han station「河口湖畔駅」 (altitude: 856m) to Fujimidai station「富士見台駅」 (altitude: 1075m) on Mount Tenjo (1104m).
The ropeway operates at 5-10 minute intervals and it only takes 3 minutes to get to the top, where visitors can take in the panoramic view of both Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. Some people consider this to be one of the most breathtaking views in Japan!
Autumn foliage can be also seen here along the path of the ropeway from early to mid-November.
Cute cartoon-like statues of a Japanese raccoon dog (tanuki) and rabbit (usagi) can be found almost everywhere – from the entrance of the ropeway, on top of the ropeway cars, as well as at the observation deck at Fujimidai station.
It wasn’t until I was writing this post and did a little research on these characters that I discovered there is a cruel and gruesome story behind them which is definitely not a kids’ fairytale! Mount Tenjo is the setting of a Japanese folktale “Kachikachiyama” (i.e. Mount Kachikachi or click-click mountain), which the ropeway is named after and in this story, a rabbit seeks revenge (on behalf of an old Japanese couple) on a thieving Japanese raccoon dog by setting him on fire and drowning him in a river. Gosh…and I thought they looked so cute and innocent!!
At Kawaguchiko-han station「河口湖畔駅」:
Inside the building:
My round-trip Ticket for the ropeway:
Even the signage here have tanuki and rabbit motifs!
There are 2 ropeway cars plying the route and one has a tanuki atop it and the other has a rabbit.
I didn’t manage to get a good photo of the ropeway car with the rabbit but you can see parts of it in the picture below.
A souvenir ink stamp (free) can be obtained from the arrival/departure platform – all you need is to ensure you have a blank piece of paper with you. Sometimes these tourist spots do provide some paper but it’s good to always carry some in your bag (just in case you want to collect similar ink mementos!).
Ok, let’s go check out the view!
Wow…we can see almost all of Lake Kawaguchi from here!
Information boards on Mt Fuji and the story of Kachikachiyama can be found at the observation deck.
On a clear day, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Mt Fuji.
I just had to take a panoramic shot!
In spring, you can take pictures of Mt Fuji and cherry blossoms in the same shot!
Another shot of Mt Fuji and the Fuji-Q Highland theme park can be seen in the direction of 8 o’clock in the photo below.
This is the scene from the folktale where the tanuki was carrying some firewood on his back and the rabbit used two stones to start a fire with a click-click sound (i.e. kachi kachi) and when the tanuki asked the rabbit what the sound was, he replied that it was kachikachiyama and that they were so close to the mountain that they could hear it.
There is a free photo-taking service at this spot and you can get a complimentary postcard with your picture on it. Of course, a bigger (and nicer!) picture is available for purchase at ¥1000 but there is no obligation on your part to buy it. The postcard/photo can be collected at the counter located outside the teahouse/souvenir shop about 10 min after you’ve had your picture taken.
Here’s a look at the complimentary postcard…
…and the bigger photo which can be bought at ¥1000 – which do you think is nicer?
On the observation deck, you can also find the heart-shaped Bell of Tenjo「天上の鐘」, which is one of the photo spots with Mt Fuji as the backdrop. The Japanese believe that this is a “power spot” for good health, as well as success in love. 本当に？ 面白いですね！
Refreshments and some souvenir items can be purchased at Tanuki-Chaya「たぬき茶屋」, which is probably the only refreshment stop on Mt Tenjo.
One of the most popular souvenir items at this shop is the Kachikachiyama Senbei「カチカチ山せんべい」, which is a rice cracker snack.
More antics from this pair…
In addition, bird watchers may like it here as there are quite a number of feathery friends to look out for. I spotted a Japanese White-Eye (Zosterops japonicus), also known as the mejiro「メジロ」…
…and also chanced upon the Brown-Eared Bulbul (Hypsipetes amaurotis), also known as hiyodori「ヒヨドリ」.
Most visitors tend to purchase a round trip ticket for the ropeway but if you can afford to spend more time here, there is a hiking trail from the observation deck down the forested mountain slope, which takes about 45 minutes to get to the bottom. Hydrangeas bloom here from mid-July to early-August so you can see them on the way down.
Several other hiking trails also exist and there is a different trail which takes you from the observation point uphill to a small shrine at the summit of Mount Tenjo (10 min), and from there the trail continues on to Mount Mitsutoge「三つ峠山」 (1785m). This is a popular day hike (about 3½ hours) with good views of Mount Fuji. Ask at the Kawaguchiko Tourist Information Centre for a map if you are keen to go hiking.
I ended my trip here with one last look at Mr Rabbit who looked like he was deep in contemplation…
1163-1 Azagawa, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minami-tsuru-gun, Yamanashi, Japan.
|1st April to 15th April||
|16th April to 15th Oct||
|16th Oct to 30th Nov||
|1st Dec to 28th Feb||
|1st Mar to 31st Mar||
In English – http://www.fujikyu.co.jp/en/leisure/leisure13.html
In Japanese – http://www.kachikachiyama-ropeway.com/
I usually prefer to check the Japanese websites as they contain more detailed information than their English pages but I guess it depends whether you can understand Japanese (or perhaps use a web translation software?).
Adult: ¥720 Round-trip; ¥410 One-way
Child: ¥360 Round-trip; ¥210 One-way
Discount coupons for the ropeway can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre at Kawaguchiko station or from this link – http://www.kachikachiyama-ropeway.com/contents/common/images/pdf/ticket20140426.pdf
10 minutes on foot or 5 minutes by Fujikyu Bus from Kawaguchiko Station「河口湖駅」.
Retro buses (Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus “Red Line”) depart every 20 mins from Kawaguchiko Station and take between 11-16 min to reach the Sightseeing Boat/Ropeway Entrance bus stop (also called the Yuransen Ropeway Iriguchi bus stop 遊 覧 船・ロ ー プ ウ ェ イ 入 口).
A 2-day pass for the Kawaguchiko Line (i.e. Red Line) is available for ¥1030, while a 2-day pass for all Retro buses (both Red and Green Lines) costs ¥1340.