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My first real *haikyo* is still one of my favorite as it combines a quite unique type of abandoned place with a scenic hike. Wrapping itself around sacred Mt. Atago in Kyoto from south counterclockwise this abandoned cable car track offers breathtaking views, six tunnels and a great leg workout – steps for about an hour as well as two short but quite steep climbing sessions. If you are not in decent shape you might wanna think about visiting this haikyo…
When I started to research abandoned places in Japan on the internet I pretty quickly found Mt. Atago Cable Car since it is, next to the *Mt. Maya Tourist Hotel*, one of the most covered haikyo in Kansai – and one of the most accessable. Instead of taking the pilgrim’s path to Atago Shrine just take the abandoned track right next to it. You can’t miss it! (If you are able to find out where exactly Mt. Atago in Kyoto is – if you are not able to solve this little challenge you are not worth going there anyways…)
There even is a great (Japanese) homepage covering the history of the Mt. Atago Cable Car – built in 1929 it was already abandoned in 1944. If you are interested in the background of the places you go to you should have a look, especially at the old pictures from the time the cable car was still used. (If you are not able to read Japanese just click around and c/p the text into a translation homepage. More people than you might think do it that way…)
On the way up there are two challenges – the steep incline (most of it concrete steps) and two collapsed tunnels, forcing you to leave the track and climb the hill by holding on to everything nature offers. Both detours have colorful markers giving you hints which way to get up. But while the one around tunnel 3 will bring you directly back to the track, the one around tunnel 5 will lead to a path close to the already mentioned pilgrim’s way. Without spoiling your search back to the track too much: Just go straight ahead, maybe a bit to the east. A small trail will lead you back to the track.
After the sixth tunnel you almost made it to the still existing top station. Just a few minutes before that your breathtaking climb will be rewarded by a breathtaking view *not visible* from the pilgrim’s path – just after a partly collapsed bridge. More than 65 years after giving up this wonderful piece of transportation history parts of it are in pretty bad shape. Nothing to worry about, but nevertheless worth mentioning.
The top station itself is in pretty bad shape, too – but unlike the completely vanished valley station it is still standing. Basically it’s a bunch of outside walls and floors: no machines, no interior, no internal walls. To me it was nevertheless impressive, maybe because it’s a place with a history. A short one, but still a history, an entertaining one actually since this cable car lead directly to a *tourist hotel* and a ski resort – but that is another story…

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