Hakone, Ōwakudani

“there were many bushes around here which I thought was strange because there was so much sulfuric acid in the area but I guess they must have adapted to it” – Navindd

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Once the gondola gained elevation, the true beauty, immensity of the lake and the surroundings of this place can be witnessed. It oozed tranquility. Past Ubeko Station, the climb became steep. Now above the trees canopy, there were fabulous views of the width of Mt Fuji. A thick layer of clouds hung just below the reddish summit against an unusual blue sky. Plumes of steam rose from the ground as we approached Ōwakudani. From the station is a short nature trail around this active volcanic area. The pungent scent of sulfurous fumes hung heavily in the air. Little streams of bubbling hot water flowed from vents together with pools of bubbling mud. Although active in volcanic activities, many types of trees thrived here. One of the things to do here seemed to be to buy sulfur blackened eggs, “onsen tamago”. Tasted like ordinary eggs. Not wanting to inhale too much of the poisonous gases, we continued our rope-way ride to the summit of Sōunzan Station. There were great views of towns and the vast expanse of the Pacific. On the decent, we boarded a bright red funicular cable car to Gōra Station. It was a steep but a comfortable ride.

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The view of Mount Fuji from Hakone, weather permitting, is one of the best. In the same light, Kawaguchiko would have been perfect – not for us though. Today, it showed its full grandeur. Regarded scared and for over thousand years, had inspired poets and artist, and pilgrims and “tourists” had climbed its slopes. Now we are part of that history. This morning, we were privileged. The morning sun shone brightly and the air clear. From afar, at Ōwakudani, the majesty of Fuji, apart from shadow cast from a streaking cloud, the view from its conical summit to its extensive slopes, the villages, the flora and landscape, were all clearly visible. As the sun moved, the vista constantly evolved. Like the seasons, nothing (view) is permanent. It is said that if a person was fortunate to see Fujisan in person, he or she will return to Japan. We certainly want to.

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