The Mt. Hiei Artificial Ski Slope is an abandoned ski resort near the top of Mount Hiei on the border between Kyoto prefecture and Shiga prefecture. Famous for its Enryaku Tempel and the Kokuhoden Museum this holy mountain was once thought to be the home of gods and demons in the Shinto belief system. Interestingly enough the predominantly religion on Mt. Hiei has always been Buddhism. The monk Saicho founded the Enryaku-ji in 788 as the first outpost of the Tiantai / Tendai sect and it remained the Tendai headquarters till this very day, although it was famously destroyed by Oda Nobunaga in 1571 to vanish the rising power of the local warrior monks, killing about 20,000 people (including civilians) in the area. The temple was rebuilt soon after and is one of the main tourist attractions in Shiga prefecture today, accessible via two cable car lines, several beautiful hiking trails and a toll road for cars, motorcycles and busses.
Along the “Kitayama East Course” lies the Mt. Hiei Artificial Ski Slope, probably the most visited haikyo in all of Japan. On an average day during the hiking seasons in spring and autumn you’ll never be alone in the area as people are constantly passing by – about half a dozen hiking trails meet here and a close-by cable car station, serving the longest funicular line in Japan, attracts hundreds of people a day. Most hikers barely notice the abandoned ski lift and ski slope, hardly anybody peeks through the broken windows of the gear rental store or has a look at the undamaged closed restaurant. Why wasting a thought on that ugly stain when the surrounding nature is of such beauty? Because beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and though the ski resort on Mount Hiei was rather small it nevertheless offers a few neat angles now that it is abandoned.
Wanna know some facts about the resort? Okay, this is what I was able to find out: The Mt. Hiei Artificial Ski Slope was opened in 1964 and on November 1st of 2002 the newspaper Kyoto Shimbun reported that the ski resort was closed for good after a hot summer in 2000 and a way too warm winter in 2001 – followed by a year of temporary closing; which explains why both the restaurant and the rental store are still stocked with all kinds of items. In the almost 40 years of operation the already mentioned facilities welcomed customers for both a summer and a winter season. In winter a combination of natural and artificial snow (provided by a snow gun) offered fun for the whole family, in summer grass skiing was the business of choice. A lift transported guest for a distance of 170 meters so they could enjoy the pretty short slope of up to 200 meters with a vertical drop of 38 meters.
Oh, before I forget: The nearby “Garden Musem Hiei”, a flower park, once was an amusement park with a haunted house, a small Ferris wheel and a viewing platform, but I guess it was converted quickly enough to never been considered abandoned.
And that’s it for now from Mount Hiei. For now, because the ski resort was actually my second urbex trip there and my fourth or fifth overall – I really like Mount Hiei! Next time I’ll take you there I’ll either show you an abandoned rest house on a steep slope or a mysterious construction I’ve never seen anywhere else on the internet…