Today we went to Hakone-Yumoto in an attempt to see Mt Fuji. The day turned out to be cloudy and windy, which meant that we didn’t get to view Mt Fuji after all 😦 …We arrived at Hakone-Yumoto via Shinkansen and the local train lines. After much navigating we decided to go visit the volcanic sulphur springs in Owakudani. The cable car there was thrilling to say the least, especially when the cable car passed a particular peak, only to be more exposed to the buffeting winds between mountains – the car rocked and we nearly squealed in fear. Beautiful scenery though – sulphur smoke gases were rising out of certain rock crevices, and there were signs of sulphur mining by the locals. Sulphur is poisonous to inhale over the long run and can be fatal. Short term exposure is detrimental to bronchitis and asthmatics.
Stepping out of the cable car station, I was nearly blown off my feet – the gusts of winds were amazingly powerful, and for the first time I could actually imagine how much the force of wind could destroy. It is different when one sees things on TV. We stumbled the distance of about 200m to get some shelter in a café. It was crowded with tourists, all keen for souveneirs and wanting to sample the advertised ‘black’ eggs. The eggs tasted like, well, egg. Only the shell was black…
After Owakudani we went back to Hakone-Yumoto and took a cab to Tenzan – a place famous for its hot baths. The place was breathtaking. We were given slippers and a hired towels, then made our way separately to the ladies quarters. I was quite nervous about my first nudie bath, and was unsure how/where to take the clothes off. The interiors were beautifully planned and detailed, and the atmosphere was very quiet and soothing with conversation down to a murmur. As we walked through the series of spaces, we saw large tatami mats with people splayed across resting after a bath. Half an hour at the hot spring baths was quite enough, and then proceeded to dinner at their restaurant for delicious shabu-shabu with a seat by a waterfall creek, beautifully and dimly lit. It has been a mesmerizing experience – one of my favourite moments in life.
Sulphurous gases from the natural crevices
Sulphur mining by locals
Aerial view from cable car
The entrance to the hot spring (onsen). unfortunately photos not allowed within!