Monday, February 15, 2010

Unzen National Park and Ropeway

"Mt. Unzendake is a mountain comprised of several volcanoes." That is according to a sign that greets visitors to the National Park Unzen. Unzen was also designated Japan's first national park.
You can walk all throughout the park on these paths. It was cold the day we visited, but the walking paths were heated... naturally. I could be wrong, but it looked as if the Visitor Center was harnessing the natural power of the steam to heat the center. I didn't see anyone working in the center, but it was still open to look around.
Unzen is a relatively short, and very beautiful, drive from Nagasaki, Japan. Once you reach the top of the mountain, you'll need to find parking. Parking was kind of hard to come by and not very cheap. There are plenty of alternative ways to get up the mountain that may be a better alternative in the heavy tourist seasons. The road up there was also very narrow and winding.
This park is huge!!! I don't know how many walking trails the park has, but you could spend the better part of the day there. This being said, the scenery doesn't change that much from area to area. It is all beautiful.
There are many onsens and hotels in the area.
Hungry? Why not try some fresh steam cooked eggs or potatoes?
When we tried the black sulfur cooked eggs up at Hakone, we were told they brought good luck. These may too... why not try some?
Dei Kazan (Muddy Volcano) where muddy soil pushed up from the gas pressure in the steam vents. According the descriptive sign, it shows you on a small scale how a volcano is formed.
The money offerings here were tarnished from the sulfur.
Up the road from the walkways is the Unzen Rope way at Nita Pass. For 610-yen one way, or 1220-yen (if you want to come back down), you can enjoy the ride. The price for kids is half that.
There were low clouds swallowing the cable car, so we opted the skip the ride this time. The woman in the ticket booth told me there was no visibility at the top.
The photo above is a view of Mt. Heisei Shinzan. That is a volcano that last erupted from 1990 - 1995.
I'm a sucker for the above souvenir, so I was happy to find the machine in the rope way ticket building. For 300-yen you buy a coin of your liking. For 30-yen you put it in the stamping machine next to it and stamp your name and the date you visited into the coin. If I ever find my other coins, I'll know that they were money well spent.

Leaving Unzen. You may want to bring a change of clothes. The ones you wear will carry that sulfur smell.

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