A frightening yet exhilarating way to travel for free in rural Japan. 

While Japan’s modern cities boast some of the world’s fastest and most advanced transport, in the countryside there are other ways to get around. One of those ways is by cable car, and not just any cable car – in some remote pockets of Japan, there are human-powered ropeways called yaen.

Yaen literally translates to “wild monkey”, and these small cable cars are so-called as they’re usually located on the banks of rivers and deep valleys, moving from one side to the other like wild monkeys travelling from tree to tree.

These yaen can be hard to find, so when our reporter Masami heard of one at Totsukawa Onsen Hotel Subaru in Nara Prefecture, she headed out to the remote location to try it out for herself.

When she arrived, she found the yaen was a small wooden cart attached to a number of suspension ropes, which were securely bolted to a cement wall.

▼ Oh, and did we mention that there were snakes here too?

The presence of snakes on land helped Masami shrug off any concerns she had about getting into a tiny wooden box suspended in mid-air, so she stepped inside and detached the lever from the pole, setting off on her self-powered journey.

▼ Take a look at the smooth start to the journey below.

The natural slope from the river bank meant Masami could sit back and enjoy the first part of the journey without having to do anything at all. However, the cable car soon came to a stop about halfway across, which was actually nice as it gave her a moment to admire the view from her little box before moving along again.

She didn’t want to be suspended in the middle of nowhere forever, though, so she reached down and started tugging on the rope to move the cart towards the other side.

That’s when she realised she should’ve brought some gloves along to protect her hands from the blisters that were beginning to form on her palms.

▼ With each pull, Masami inched closer to her destination.

Thankfully, Masami eventually made it across the stretch of land, and actually enjoyed herself while she did it!

Masami highly recommends travelling by yaen, so if you ever find yourself in Nara, be sure to give it a try. Not only will you feel a sense of accomplishment after carting yourself across the riverbed, but the experience of floating along on your own private ropeway is one that you can add to your list of travel stories, which may include running away from Nara deer.


Totsukawa Onsen Hotel Subaru / 施設名 十津川温泉ホテル
Address: Nara-ken, Yoshino-gun, Totsukawa, Hiradani 909-4

Photos © SoraNews24
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