Goryu – The gondola police

Like the rest of the hiking population in Japan, weekend plans were washed away by Friday evening, as were many houses across the country. But come early Sunday morning, a rain-free window of opportunity had opened up toward the Japan Sea coast.

But Goryu-dake meant a cable car. I got the dog into the gondola without problem, hidden in her carrycase and buried beneath a daypack and jacket. But no sooner than I stepped off the upper station, hidden the carrycase and started off up the hiking path than I was accosted by two staff.

“No dogs allowed. You know that, don’t you?” they accused.

They moved to block me, but I ignored them and carried on up. I glanced back to check they were not running after me, and saw one of them on his walkie-talkie. What was he going to do, call in the Special Forces in a chopper? Please, just leave me alone.

Five hours later, nerves soothed and soul refreshed from the rugged peak, I bundled one exhausted animal into her carrycase barely without breaking step, slung the case over my shoulder and under a  jacket, and rushed toward the open gondola doors. But I had been spotted.

A young man appeared, somewhat out of breath, and asked, in English:
“Have you got a dog?”
“Er,” I paused for a millisecond, with Hana in her case just 2 feet away from him. “No.”
“Oh I am sorry.”

Out swung the gondola into the open air and away from officialdom. Overall, it had been a good day.

9 thoughts on “Goryu – The gondola police

  1. Congratulations on catching that short break in the weather and making it up to Goryu!

    Have you thought of getting some legal advice about taking Hana to the mountains? From what I could dig up on the net, the current law seems to forbid the “release of animals” into “areas of special designated environmental significance” in the national parks. So if you kept Hana on the leash in these areas (of which there aren’t many) you should be fine. Outside of these special areas there seems to be no restriction on bringing dogs into the national parks. There may be regional laws however..

    You can get cheap legal advice from your local notary public – I seem to recall it’s about Y4000 for 30 minutes. Or maybe call the local prefectural office and find out the situation.

    Or just keep sneaking her in! 🙂

  2. brilliant! I love your answer to their “Have you got a dog question?”! I wonder if that would work at Immigration if they asked you “Are you a terrorist?”

    Alternatively, you could’ve easily descended via the ski resort. There’s a gravel road that runs all the way up to the gondola~! But maybe Hana’s paws were tired after the long climb!

    What a great way to take advantage of the unusually nice weather today.

  3. You actually got up there! Wonderful! I was beginning to wonder if all you’d be able to write about was tent stakes and shoe treads from now on!

    I wonder if the fact that Hana is loose is what affects so many walkers here in Japan. People just aren’t used to dogs that aren’t on a leash. Yes, I know that Hana’s size should make that moot, but you never know.

  4. Chris, that’s exactly my understanding of the law, too. And even the provision for not releasing fauna/flora in those few special 特別保護地区 areas is surely intended to stop people scattering flower seeds, releasing fish, and abandoning their unwanted pets.

    I had not realised that such legal advice was available at bargain rates. If I do run into trouble, the local notary public will be my first port of call.

    For the remainder, I will simply try to avoid the potential for conflict by hiking at night.

  5. Wes, I cannot recommend even joking to anyone in a uniform at airports these days!

    I was looking at the service road under the gondola on the way up, but figured I was less conspicuous if I could get into a gondola without being noticed. And the dog’s paws were a bit rough and sore from the sharp loose rock chips on Goryu. What is it, feldspar?

  6. Butuki, I do apologise for those dull reports on shoes, tents and even torches! In my defence, it was raining *all* day Saturday…

    The leash has never been mentioned so far – the few objecters are objecting to the dog itself. I always put the dog on a leash (or even carry her) at the start and end of a hike, around where there are buildings, day-trippers, vehicles, etc., then release her once on the trail. But you’re right that people just are not used to seeing a dog off-leash. And likewise, not used to seeing them in the hills!

    The site may become rather colourless from now, just photos in the dark.

  7. Hi, I too was accosted by the Goryu dog patrol a few months ago, although I had walked past the gondola top station from the resort base, only to make a u-turn and head back down (luckily I live at the base, so not much of a hassle). My plan was to reach Kashimayari from Goryu. A few days later I simply went up via the Jiigatake route and as usual received no hassles at all. Dog summit picture here:

    Good luck with your 100. My dog has skied most of Hakuba’s peaks with me and I was excited to hear of your blog. Dog’s make great company on the trail and I’ve read and enjoyed a few of your stories this evening.

  8. Hi, know this is old posting but caught my eye as I hike in the Hakkodas all the time with my dog and it is a major issue. Got kicked off the gondola twice and know avoid it even though Coop is incredibly well trained and does not even go up to anyone on or off leash. I got angrily accosted on one summit, while having lunch though he was on leash and curled up next to me. Go figure! Good luck, Susan in Misawa

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