Near Kusatsu Onsen lies Mount Shirane (白根山), a series of active volcanic mountains that includes Moto-Shirane (本白根) and Aino-mine. Being approximately 2171 m in height, Mt Shirane would never disappoint regardless of which season you decide to travel. It offers hiking in spring and summer, skiing in winter and beautiful foliage in autumn. All year round, Mt Shirane offers a ropeway that starts from the middle of Mt. Shirane and leads you to Ainomine. From there you can catch a free shuttle bus that takes you to the main hiking course towards Lake Yugama and other crater lakes.
All in all, the view from the ropeway is definitely worth it; as it offers picturesque scenery high above the mountains, and the euphoric feeling of having the world at your feet.The ropeway operates between 9:00am – 4:20pm. You will find that a one way trip for adults cost 900 yen and a one way trip for children aged between 6-12 costs 450 yen. You can even allow pets on board! It is 200 yen for a small pet, 300 yen for a medium pet and 500 yen for a large pet. Additionally a round trip costs 1500 yen for adults and 750 yen for children. The ride will last for 8 minutes which gives more than enough time to take in the spectacular view. The speed of the ride is a slow-yet-steady 5 m/s and stretches for 2400m, giving plenty of opportunities to take that winning shot with your camera. A carriage also departs the station every 12 seconds, making the queue short. Additionally, the sturdy ropeway can support a maximum of 1800 people per hour and each carriage allows 6 people inside, thus giving plenty of room to fit all your friends.
Mt Shirane ropeway is a 20 minute drive from Nakazawa Village resort. Alternatively you can get there by catching the bus bound to Shirane Ropeway from Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal for 2320 Yen for 1 adult and half price for children. This bus also passes through Sessho Kawara (殺生河原) which literally means in Japanese ‘the riverbed that kills while alive’. The name derives from the fact that the river is so sulphuric that it is forbidden for vehicles to stop around the area, otherwise the vehicle will be completely destroyed within the hour. So although there’s no chance for the bus to pull up for you to take pictures, why not take your chances to take that picture from Mt Shirane's ropeway? So if you’re in Kusatsu village, boarding Mt Shirane’s ropeway is one of those activities that you must do.
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