Yokohama to get aerial gondolas ahead of 2020 Olympics

by Kantaro Komiya

Staff Writer

Private-sector companies with the backing of the Yokohama Municipal Government plan to build seaside aerial gondolas in the port city, aiming to attract tourists coming from abroad for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Senyo Kogyo Co., the Osaka-based amusement ride manufacturer that operates the Yokohama Cosmo World theme park, said it will construct an aerial cable system stretching about 600 meters between JR Sakuragicho Station and the Minato Mirai 21 district comprising the park and other tourist sites.

Although some details, including the exact completion date, have yet to be decided, Senyo Kogyo says the gondolas should give visitors a nice view of the Yokohama waterfront and skyline.

“It won’t be mere transportation, but a means of tourism promotion, a part of the prospering urban development,” said Shogo Takashima, managing director of Senyo Kogyo’s Tokyo branch.

Senyo Kogyo’s plan is one of nine transportation proposals from the private sector that the municipal government’s Urban Development Bureau received after it called on companies in December to submit ideas for its waterfront renovation master plan.

The other projects include water buses, open-top buses and an even more extensive aerial cable car network linking JR Yokohama Station and Yamashita Pier.

Keita Matsui, director of the bureau’s project division, said these designs, along with ongoing projects like a bicycle-sharing service and the renewal of Shinko Pier, will make traveling around Yokohama more enjoyable.

The city anticipates the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be an opportunity to raise its international competitiveness and attract more domestic and foreign tourists.

According to Yokohama city statistics published last month, Yokohama drew 36.3 million tourists in 2017. The port city is eager to gain more toward 2020 since it will be hosting Olympic baseball, softball and soccer games.

Gondolas are not unprecedented in the city. In 1989, a temporary gondola was operated for the Yokohama Exotic Showcase (YES’89), an urban exposition held in the Minato Mirai 21 district.

Minato Mirai 21 is the central business district in Yokohama. In addition to Yokohama Cosmo World, it hosts other tourist spots including the Red Brick Warehouse, the Cupnoodles Museum and Yokohama Landmark Tower.