Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Volcano in Japan

Mount Hakone, Japan (May 30, 2012)

Let's keep going west, across the Pacific to the shore of Asia. But just before hitting the continent, let's stop for one post and briefly explore one volcano in Japan. And no, it is not the one you are thinking.

A garden or a forest?
I tried, I really tried. Hard. I really wanted to get at least one photo of the most photogenic volcano in the world: mount Fuji. But he was playing coy... hiding behind a curtain of mist that never left the sky for the whole time I was in Japan. I tried looking west from the observatory of the Tokyo tower, but I could only see an interminable and impressive forest of high rise buildings fading in the mist. I tried looking for him from the shores of lake Ashi, but I only found a placid lake framed by green mountains, themselves frames by heavy rainy clouds. He was still in hiding. Oh well, I guess this calls for another trip, in a different season, when the sky is more transparent and the majestic mountain is less shy. In the meantime you can look at the incredible Fuji-san photos captured by +Yuga Kurita  (they are quite exceptional indeed).

What I will offer you today, is another japanese volcano. It is not as famous as the white snow-capped Fuji-san, but it powers the hot waters of some of the most famous onsen of Japan. It is a very green volcano, covered by a lush green forests that resembles the best kept gardens. You can read the full story in my Japan travel diary, and specifically here. The short version is the following. We were staying a few days in an onsen in Hakone. We decided to take the famous Hakone ropeway all the way to lake Ashi, with the intention of crossing the lake by boat, walk a little along the Old Tokaido road and then take the bus back to the onsen. We did all this, except that we decided to stop for a short walk at the Owakudani ropeway station. We saw across the valley an overlook with an interesting view on the volcanic fumaroles. We should have been deterred by the mysterious signs "Can Not Go Buying Black Eggs Shop" at the beginning of the trail, but we didn't, and only after a couple of hours hiking on a very steep path we realized that we were going to the summit of the volcano, where clearly the world famous Owakudani black eggs were not available for sale. We did find, however, the even more famous Hime Iwakagami, a small pink flower that only grows in this area, for a brief spring season. And maybe next time we will see Fuji-san...

Lake Ashi, Japan (May 30, 2012)

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