People used to travel on a ropeway between department store rooftops overlooking today’s scramble crossing.

With its mix of old and new traditions, technology and architecture, Japan is a fascinating place to visit. For some of us, though, the lure of Japan’s past is particularly great, and recent colourised photo collection releases have been introducing us to a whole new realm of forgotten landscapes around the country.

One of the most intriguing forgotten landscapes comes to us from Tokyo’s Shibuya Station, which first opened in 1885, at a time when it was surrounded by rickshaws and quiet residences. The introduction of new rail lines brought more traffic to the area in the decades that followed, transforming it into a lively shopping and entertainment district by the 1950s.

The photo below shows the area outside Shibuya Station in the ’50s, where you can see the statue of Hachiko (erected in 1948) at the bottom left, and the intersection that would one day become the famous scramble crossing (below right).

It was around this time that Shibuya added another unusual sight to its ever-growing cityscape, with a sightseeing cable car that took passengers from one department store rooftop to the other, at a point where the above photo may very well have been taken.

Called the “Hibari-go“, the cable car began operating in 1951 and was able to hold up to 12 passengers. Thankfully, photos of the ropeway still exist, showing what the cable car looked like when it was in action.

Ropeways like this were usually set up in remote locations like country mountainsides, where they were used to transport people up relatively long distances. This cable car, however, ran a mere 75 metres (246 feet), from the seventh floor rooftop of one building down to the fourth floor rooftop of the other. According to historical records, there was no other way of accessing the rooftop of the lower building, so the cable car ran as a return ride for passengers.

▼ These photos show passengers making their way into the cable car, and the uniformed ladies who helped to operate it.

This image shows where the ropeway was originally located, above today’s Hachiko exit at Shibuya Station, running between two department store buildings which have since been rebuilt.

Though the trip was short, passengers would’ve been able to view the distant skyline during the journey, with Mt Fuji visible in the distance above the low-rise buildings of the time.

The rounded, cute-looking cable car, whose name “Hibari” translates to “Skylark“, was established as a pleasure attraction for travellers and shoppers. Today it’s remembered with a sense of fond nostalgia, a sentiment captured perfectly in this old film, which shows rare footage of the cable car in action.

Sadly, the cute cable car’s existence was short-lived, as it only ran for two years, ceasing operations in 1953 when the taller department store building was remodelled to become an 11-storey structure.

While it’s hard to imagine a ropeway running between buildings at Shibuya Station today, it’s nice to know that the cable car is still remembered fondly by many. As Shibuya currently undergoes a massive overhaul, with new high-rise developments scheduled to be completed by 2027, it’s nice to take a moment to look back at the area as it once was, in the years shortly after the beloved dog Hachiko waited faithfully for his master at the station.

Source: Japaaan
Featured image: Twitter/@douteimugaku
Insert images: Wikipedia Commons, Flickr/Dick Thomas Johnson (edited by SoraNews24)