Enjoy a taste of traditional Japan in self-operated Edo period cable car

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?

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