Friday, July 5, 2013

Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Ropeway (May 30, 2012)

Owakudani (May 30, 2012)
While I can certainly envision lazying out at the onsen the whole day, the next morning we decided to explore the area of lake Ashi, a large crater lake that lies at the feet of the Mt. Hakone volcano complex. The classic tour starts in Hakone, where you can board the Hakone ropeway, climbing the sides of the volcano in the Owakudani valley. The valley is the site of active sulfuric vents, exploited for the production of sulfur (the abundant yellow stuff in the large photo above): the mist you see surrounding the mining equipment is not actual mist, but the sulfuric steam rising from the depth of the volcano. It is in this area that the hot thermal water powering the onsen in Hakone is originated, and piped down the valley for the enjoyment of the bath-goers. The Owakudani ropeway station is a very popular touristic destination. We found hordes of schoolchildren with one single-minded goal: finding foreigners to interview for their english class homework. Each student had to meet a minimum quota of foreign tourists, asking them questions such as their country of origin. They got lucky with Mayli: there are not many tourists from Venezuela that are visiting Japan these days. I however got asked the fundamental question of the day: had I already eaten the world famous Owakudani black egg? But this is a story for tomorrow.

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