May 4, 2017
If you’re in Japan and stuck in a big city like Tokyo or Sendai, wondering how to spend your Golden Week, you’re probably navigating through endless timetables and reviews for places to go around the country. You can simplify your plans by checking out Gunma prefecture’s wide and peaceful areas. Mountain ropeways, indoor and outdoor onsens, skiing, snowboarding, rafting and kayaking are all attractive possibilities. Ropeways in particular are a fun way to see Gunma’s high mountains. If you are afraid of heights, then try hiking instead of taking ropeway.
Doai station is one of the oldest stations throughout Japan, and there are over 400 underground stairs you have climb up to get out of the station after the train ride. From the station turn right and follow the highway (for 10 minutes) until you see MAX and lodge houses and cross a bridge.
Continue on the road, left then right through a winding pass. After one more left you will see ropeway over your head. That means you are on the right track. You can turn left (for hiking) instead of following the main road to Highway 291 and the ropeway station.
(This is the ropeway station on the right-> "From here turn left for hiking, follow that ropeway passenger cabin")
(Ropeway can lead you to ski area, too)
Hiking in Gunma can be complicated for outsiders, especially in the mountains, but there are a few lesser-known tracks worth trying. Mount Tanigawa is the tallest mountain in Gunma, and if you go to the ropeway, there is an unmarked walking track alongside with great views.
It is easy for anyone to take a train along the Joetsu line. Take the Joetsu line from Takasaki to Minakami, then change trains at the Minakami station from Minakami to Nagaoka; your destination, the Tanigawa-dake Ropeway, is close to Doai station, 2 stops (Yubiso and Doai) after Minakami. It is 1140 yen in total by train.
From Tokyo by train;
1. Tokyo to Takasaki (Gumma/Gunma-ken), (2590yen, or 5500yen,) also shinkansens are available
2. Takasaki to Minakami, (760yen) transfer
3. Minakami to Nagaoka, get off at the Doai station (There is a bus from Minakami to Doai ropeway station.)
From the Doai station turn right continue on the road, (291) left then right through a winding pass. There is a park where visitors can sit, eat and relax, also look at the rushing Tone river on the way from Doai station to Ropeway station. After one more left you will see ropeway over your head. That means you are on the right track. You can turn left (for hiking) instead of following the main road to Highway 291 and the ropeway station. Along the ropeway line, there is a trail to follow on the ground to hike. Even at the end of April, mountains covered with snow. Be careful and bring your necessities for hiking. The ropeway station has plenty of "benri" vending machines and stores to serve you food, and drinks, etc.
Read more about mountain climbing options here: https://japanhike.wordpress.com/2008/04/09/mt-tanigawa/ The website has information about hiking in Gunma ken area, Tanigawa, Akagi, Ikaho, Haruno and so on. Sometimes google maps spell Gunma as Gumma. Have fun and go out as much as possible.
A mother who is interested in taking photos, hiking, and traveling. Favorites are sewing, knitting, sipping coffee. I am very happy to be found city-cost expat community in Japan, to dedicate it to improve writing skill.