An aerial tramway gondola climbs smoothly between the green mountains. Immediately after it reaches the top, a barren basin appears below. Excited passengers exclaim, "Wow!" and "Amazing!"
They point their cameras toward several billowing columns of smoke and patches of land stained yellow with sulfur.
On the last weekend of July, the Hakone Ropeway in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, which traverses one of the nation's most famous hot spring resorts, glided over this dynamic volcanic topography to its highest destination, 1,044-meter-high Owakudani Station. Outside the station, the odor of sulfur hung in the air and volcanic smoke enveloped the land.
This area, known as Owakudani Park, is one of Hakone's biggest tourist spots. Sightseers are now returning to the area for the first time in about 15 months.
After the volcanic alert level for Mt. Hakone was raised (see below) in May 2015, the area around Owakudani was closed off and operations of the ropeway suspended. The ropeway service has gradually resumed since the autumn of 2015, but it was not until July 26 this year that it became fully operational again, including the section between Sounzan and Owakudani stations that traverses the area of volcanic plumes. Some daytime restrictions around Owakudani were lifted at the same time, allowing people to go outside Owakudani Station.
Tourists were taking souvenir pictures against the background of the smoke and formed a long line for the famous black eggs that are boiled in a hot spring. Security guards watched the crowds to ensure people did not enter dangerous areas or become sick from the volcanic fumes.
source by the-japan-news