Ride this scenic gondola up stunning Mount Tengu to find a range of activities as well as lookouts with award-winning views.
Even on Hokkaido, an island with many phenomenal views, the Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway offers a memorable experience. Head south from central Otaru to the base of Mount Tengu, a prominent 1,747-foot (532-meter) peak rising high above the city. Ascend the iconic ropeway to enjoy unbeatable views and experience the various attractions offered at the mountaintop.
Hop into the 30-person gondola and prepare for a unique journey. The ropeway itself travels 2,410 feet (735 meters) in just 4 minutes. At the top you’ll have stunning views of Otaru city, the port and Ishikari Bay.
On a clear day, look west toward the Shakotan Peninsula and try to make out Mount Shokanbetsu in the distance to the east. The views here are so good that they earned Mount Tengu a star in the Michelin Green Guide Japan. Visit after dark to enjoy a vista of Otaru’s twinkling lights, considered one of Hokkaido’s prettiest night views.
Pause at the mountaintop restaurant, Tenguu Cafe, whose 82-foot (25-meter) window counter offers a wide array of stunning outlooks and good food. Browse keepsakes in the center’s souvenir shop or visit Otaru Ski Museum, an exhibition space with about 400 items relating to Japan’s illustrious skiing history.
Enter Tengu Hall to learn about the mythical creature that gives Mount Tengu its name. This distinctive Shinto spirit, with long nose and angry red face, once had a reputation for nastiness but is now thought to protect the mountains and forests. Peruse roughly 700 varieties of Tengu masks before heading outside to rub the lucky nose of a large Tengu sculpture, with different techniques for different goals.
Other activities include visiting a chipmunk enclosure and a shrine lit with lanterns. Take the 25-minute hike around the top of the mountain.There’s also a downhill bobsled track for exciting summer entertainment. In the winter, opt for skiing or snowboarding instead.
Make your way to the Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway by driving or by taking a 20-minute bus ride from the Otaru train station. The gondola runs every 12 minutes throughout the day. Check the website for hours and information on attractions open during your visit.