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Sam's Japan Travel Journal
by Sam, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2016/07/28 - Hakone Update

The Hakone Ropeway, one of Hakone's major attractions, has been marred by disruption since it closed all services due to increased volcanic activity in the area around Owakudani over a year ago. Since then, sections of the ropeway have incrementally reopened as the volcanic activity has decreased. The section between Owakudani and the Sounzan terminus was the final leg out of service until it reopened a few days ago on July 26. The opening of this final section means that the Hakone Ropeway is now back in service in its entirety.

Previously, ropeway users were prohibited from leaving the Owakudani Station building, but now visitors are free to walk around the area that surrounds the station and contains a souvenir shop, cafes and a museum in addition to impressive views of the volcanic sulfur fields and surrounding mountains. However, the surrounding hiking trails and hot spring area remain closed due to toxic volcanic gases (which are also present in lower concentrations around the station, making it advisable for people with respiratory problems to stay away).

The atmosphere around the station is lively as people relax and take in the views. As well as human traffic, vehicular traffic is granted access, with the road leading up to Owakudani open to cars, buses and motorcycles. It is worth noting that the ropeway will be closed on August 4 and 25 for inspection and maintenance.

Lining up to ride the newly reopened branch of the Hakone Ropeway
The air becomes foggy on the ascent from Sounzan to Owakudani
People relaxing outside Owakudani Station, the air foggy with volcanic gas
Socializing outside the gift shop
The large gift shop is open for business, selling an array of souvenirs and snacks
The road leading to Owakudani is once again open to cars, and as a result, the parking lot is packed
The bus also uses the access road, with the bus stop being just outside the gift shop building
The bus network is a convenient way to get around the Hakone area
The Kamiyama Hiking Trail is closed
As is the hot spring area
A sign warns of the danger posed by the volcanic gasses in the area
A cafe selling Owakudani's signature snack, Kuro-Tamago, literally "black eggs"
The eggs get their special color from being boiled in waters rich in sulfur and iron and are a completely healthy, delicious snack
There are various seating areas where people peel and eat their eggs
A group eating black eggs looking out over the awesome surroundings
Owakudani Station building
The odor from the sulfuric gas is a constant reminder of where you are

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List of Posts:
2017/04/27 - Wisteria Watching at Ashikaga Flower Park
2017/04/24 - Nemophila flowers at Hitachi Seaside Park
2017/03/06 - Craft Beer Japan: Kanda
2017/02/21 - Tokyo Early Spring Update
2017/02/16 - Renovations start at Kiyomizudera's main hall
2017/02/09 - Crane Watching in Kushiro
2017/02/07 - 2017 Asahikawa Winter Festival
2017/02/06 - 2017 Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
2017/02/06 - 2017 Sapporo Snow Festival
2017/01/20 - Craft Beer Japan: Osaka
2017/01/16 - Early Blooming in Atami

2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/09/13 - Walking the Roots of Japan
2016/07/28 - Hakone Update
2016/04/26 - Tonami Tulip Fair 2016
2016/04/19 - Kyoto Railway Museum