Here's a story making news in Japan, but I suspect is pretty much unknown in the rest of the world. Since April 26 there has been increased seismic activity in and around Ōwakudani "Great Boiling Valley" on the slope of Mt. Hakone. The National Meteorological Agency is not at this time expecting a major eruption, but the tragedy at Ontakesan last year has got everybody feeling nervous. The ropeway that moves over the valley and near approaches to in have been closed as a result of moving from a level one to a level two alert.
Sengokuhara looks to be right in the pathway of any debris flow and is almost certain to be impacted by ash in a major eruption. I guess people won't be hard-boiling their eggs in the vicinity any time soon.
Very interesting! The entire Hakone area is a caldera and looks quite interesting from Google Earth, especially with Borders and Labels on to show the peak of the rim. Lake Ashi (or Lake Hakone) apparently displays beautiful views of Mt. Fuji.
I found a neat article about a trip up to Owakudani, and followed the route with the Transportation > Rail layer on.
I became very familiar with this area when I traced the path of the old Tōkaidō road passed Lake Ashi, and was even lucky enough once to visit the site of the old Hakone Barrier Gate, but I never looked at the shape of the landscape until I heard on one of the Japanese language news stories something that caused me to think "caldera". I found the valley and zoomed out, and there it was, as plain as the nose on a gaijin's face.
No one expects anything more than a steam eruption at this time, which would toss a few rocks at anybody standing too close. The magma chamber is 10 km below the surface. Although there have been dozens of small quakes every day, almost all have been very shallow, and only one was as deep as 5 km, which the seismologists didn't seem to think was a matter of much concern.
The news stories on Wednesday were mostly about the loss of tourist income on the last day of the Golden Week holiday. I heard someone expressing regret about not being able to ride the ropeway to the top of Mt. Hakone, where the view of Fujisan is said to be magnificent. On Thursday the focus of stories was more about concern about what the seismic activity might do to the flow of hot spring water, which is piped to numerous resorts in the area. Daily maintenance is apparently required to ensure that flow, and crews were seen passing the road block in a truck, and in helicopter shots of them moving on the ground.
Ahhh, I didn't even think about the loss of tourism at the tail end of Golden week! I should have though, I set up the Koinobori for Nico and we celebrated Children's Day, (and then Cinco de Mayo for the adults in the evening!)
I spent some time looking at Street View around the area of Lake Ashi yesterday and would love to visit there. I plan to spend some future summers traveling around Japan when Nico is old enough to get the most out of it, and I'll make sure to visit this region.
I also saw a few pictures in the Photos layer showing British tall ships in the lake. Looks like they are a popular tourist attraction too. The views of Fuji-yama look incredible, even from the lake itself! I wish I could transport myself and few of my motorcycles over there! Looks like a magnificent weekend ride!
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