Niseko Hirafu Summer Gondola

The summer gondola in Hirafu is a great way to get up on Mt. Annupuri and enjoy the view of Mt. Yotei, the mountain landscape, and more.


The summer gondola runs July 18 ~ Sept 27, 9:00 ~ 16:00 (8/8~8/15 8:30~18:00), so with just less than two weeks before the good folks at Tokyu Resorts shut it down for fall maintenance, this is the last chance to enjoy this great summer activity. Tickets are available for one way rides or round trip rides, and return tickets can be used on the Annupuri gondola located on the south side of the mountain. Pets are also welcome on the gondola, and there are plenty of on-leash areas to explore with your furry friend.

Enjoying the views from your gondola cabin is only half the fun. You arrive at the top station, elevation 820m, where you can enjoy stunning unobstructed views of Mt. Yotei, the surrounding lowlands and beyond. Next to the gondola top station you will find the Ace Hill rest house which offers a gift shop, some food and drinks, a kids play area, and convenient covered wrap around balcony. Ace Hill also houses Tokyu Resorts’ impressive ecology museum Ecol.

From the gondola top station / Ace Hill area there are several hiking options.

  • Summit trail – This trail switchbacks and climbs up the remainder of Mt. Annupuri’s elevation to the summit. With most of the hard work done by the gondola bagging the peak is an easy task. Impressive stands of Erman’s birch and thick patches chishima-sasa give way to Japanese stone pine as you approach the summit.
  • Trail to Kagami pond – This route follows service roads and trials through the ski fields and eventually descends to Kagami pond on Mt. Annupuri’s north foothill. The pond area is home to many striking species of wetland flowers and ferns, and on a calm day the pond reflects its surrounding landscape like a mirror as it’s name suggests.
  • Annupuri gondola connect trail – This trail climbs and traverses to the Annupuri gondola on the south side of the mountain. You can use your return trip ticket to ride down to the Annupuri base area.

Any of these hikes, as well as the options available at Ace Hill can be combined with the gondola trip and make for a very enjoyable day on Mt. Annupuri.

Weather on Mt. Annupuri can change quickly, so it is highly recommended to be prepared. Some things to keep in mind about conditions on the mountain are:

  • clouds, fog and rain move in rapidly
  • temperatures are lower because of the altitude
  • sun can be very strong especially when hiking or in areas where no shade is available

Proper dress, supplies, and equipment will help you make sure you stay comfortable and safe on the mountain.


Enjoying the view from inside the cabin


Gondola cars approaching and leaving the top station


Gondola top station


The always majestic Mt. Yotei


Thermometer ski showing the temps at noon on this nice September day aren’t quite reaching 15c


Mt. Annupuri Summit (false summit left, summit right)


Moments later when clouds engulfed the summit. Weather changes rapidly in the alpine.


Family time near the gondola top station.


View of Kutchan Town from the gondola top station area.


Signboard guiding the way to Kagami pond.