On my most recent Japan holiday, I went to Hakone -- a scenic area located approximately 100 kilometers from Tokyo. I had long thought of going there but had been put off for a time by the knowledge that traveling to and around there would involve getting on and off a large number -- and variety -- of modes of transport.
But after reading the Frommer's Guide's comment that "Getting to and around Hakone is half the fun!", I decided to bite the bullet and get myself an Odakyu Hakone Freepass (which is actually not free but is convenient and would give me unlimited rides, etc. on seven different types of transport in the Hakone area).
Among the different modes of transport that I took in Hakone that day were a mountain railway (the Hakone Tozan Railway), the Hakone Tozan Cablecar (which actually is more like Hong Kong's Peak Tram than the Ngong Ping 360 cable car) and the Hakone Ropeway -- which, to my mind, is more like a cable car than the Hakone Tozan Cablecar, and whose offered ride I felt had its hairy moments! The longest ropeway in Japan (and second longest in the world, in fact), it offers up many scenic views from its cabins that have ample glass windows to gaze through (but, thankfully as far as I'm concerned, no glass bottom).
The visual highlight of the Hakone Ropeway's 30 minute long ride (if one were to ride it from one end to the other without stopping in between) for many is also accompanied by strong smells -- specifically of something distinctly sulphuric in nature This is because in the Owakudani area of Hakone over which it goes, there's not only a large crater created during the last eruption of Mount Hakone some 3,000 years ago but because the area remains a starkly landscaped active volcanic zone complete with sulfurous fumes coming out of the ground, yellow sulphur streaked soil, and bubbling, boiling pools of water.
For an added thrill, visitors can get off at the Owakudani stop of the Hakone Ropeway and go walk along the Owakudani Nature Trail, near whose entrance there's a sign (in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean) that warns of possibly hairy moments -- and does help to remind one to not take volcanic matters too lightly and not tarry too long in the area. But while some individuals (like Puppet Ponyo -- making one more appearance on this blog and an entry for Sandi's and Gattina's Photo Hunts!) can get a tad horrified at staying for as long as we did at Owakudani, I have to say that I really did enjoy my visit there -- and am very glad that I made and had time to stop there for a bit before proceeding along the rest of that day's Hakone journey. :)