The rain had come to a stop when I woke up on my first morning in Hakone but it would resume before I headed out and the downpour would continue all day long. I first took a bus from Hakone-Yumoto Station to Gora Station (normally you would take a train between these stations but a landslide had temporarily stopped the train service) and there I boarded a cable car that brought me up to Sounzan Station.
I then got on the Hakone Ropeway, which runs from Sounzan Station up to the volcanic summit of Mt Hakone and then down to the shores of Lake Ashinoko. Visibility was poor because of the rain and when the gondola went up into the clouds I couldn’t see much of anything. Normally the Hakone Ropeway is the most scenic ride in Hakone but I had the unfortunately luck of being in Hakone while a major storm was passing through.
At the top of the ropeway I got off at Owakudani Station and went outside. Owakudani is a massive crater that was created when Mt Hakone erupted about 3,000 years ago and although there’s no magma flowing up from the ground there are still sulfur vents that continuously belch volcanic gases. Normally there’s a walking trail around Owakudani that visitors can access but it was closed that day due to the weather. I did my best to get a few photos of the small section of Owakudani that was visible. After about five minutes, however, the storm suddenly got more intense and the wind became very strong, forcing me to go inside a nearby souvenir store. At times the wind was strong enough that the rain was nearly horizontal and several people had their umbrellas damaged.
After about half an hour the storm died down just a little bit and I decided it was time to get off the mountain. I boarded the Hakone Ropeway and rode it down to Togendai Station, which is next to Lake Ashinoko. It was still raining but the visibility got a little better when the gondola descended below the clouds. At Togendai Station I checked the list of itinerary ideas on my phone. The rainstorm was forecasted to continue into the night but I still had a few more things that I was going to accomplish that day.
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