JAPAN: Kintetsu’s Ikoma Cable Line has been certified by the Selected Civil Engineering Society as a Civil Engineering Heritage site, a designation created by the Japan Society of Civil Engineers to encourage the conservation of historic structures.

With its lower terminus adjacent to Kintetsu’s Ikoma station, the 1 067 mm gauge cable railway was the first of its kind in Japan. It is essentially formed of two separate funiculars with very different characteristics.


The lower section, inaugurated on August 29 1918, is known as the Hozanji Line. This is 900 m long, climbing 146 m with a maximum gradient of 22·7%. It was originally a conventional single-track funicular with an intermediate passing loop, but a second line and loop were brought into use on December 30 1926, doubling the capacity. There are two level crossings over urban roads at the lower end of the line and a third at the passing loops.

The upper section was inaugurated on March 27 1929. The single track Yamagami Line is 1 100 m long and climbs 322 m with a maximum gradient of 33·3%. It also has a halfway passing loop, and there are two intermediate stations at Umeyashiki and Kasumigaoka. There is also a short tunnel near the lower end.


In January 1922 operation of the cable railway was taken over by the Osaka Electric Tramway, which had inaugurated its double-track electric railway between Osaka-Uehonmachi and Ikoma in April 1914. The tramway company became Kinki Nihon Tetsudo in March 1941 and is now branded as Kintetsu.

The Hozanji Line is used for commuting by residents living on the northeastern slopes of Ikoma-san, operating between 06.00 until 23.00 each day. It also serves the Hozanji shrine, adjacent to the mid-route interchange. The Yamagami Line only runs between 09.00 and 18.00, with less frequent services. This is mainly used by visitors to the Yamagami Amusement Park, which was opened in 1929 adjacent to the upper terminus. All cars used on both lines were supplied by Kinki Sharyo.