• Kyodo

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The town of Abuta on Monday reopened its hot spring district to tourists, 103 days after evacuation orders were issued shortly before the March 31 eruption of Mount Usu in southwestern Hokkaido.

Two of the seven hotels in the eastern part of the Lake Toya resort opened for business while the remaining hotels still have to haul away sacks of volcanic ash piled up along the road.

Several dozen people had made reservations for Monday at the two hotels, hotel officials said.

Naoyuki Kodama, 60, a tourist from the town of Chippubetsu in Hokkaido, said, “The town is quite beautiful. I think it has truly become a volcano tourist spot, what with the smell of sulfur.”

Nobuhisa Nagai, 37, who manages a local restaurant, said he hopes he will be able to resume business in a day or two.

“From now on, we will have to do business by trying to make use of the eruption,” he said, asking for public support by buying “a drink from us, instead of giving us a donation.”

Residents and operators of hotels and inns at the foot of Mount Usu began returning home Thursday, following the partial lifting of evacuation orders.