Hakone's prime tourist destination is Owakudani valley. This place is known for the sulphuric fumes and volcanic springs. Whilst the fumes create the illusion of cloud cover, you are really only 1000 meters above sea level. There are many ways to reach this place. The easiest way is to take a local train to Gora and then the Hakone Ropeway (cable car). Another way is taking a bus to Souzan station and then the Ropeway. Some resorts are located right next to Souzan station, like the Ryokan Gosaikan.
The Ropeway is actually an experience itself. You get a panoramic view of the mountains and if you are lucky, a view of Mt. Fuji. The ride from Sounzan station to Owakudani station is 8 minutes and costs around ¥1,400 for a return ticket.
Owakudani, also known as the great boiling valley, originated 3000 years ago when Mt. Kamiyama erupted and collapsed. Even today there are traces of the volcanic eruption, including the "steam spewing" vents that burst out with fumes of hydrogen sulphide. Be warned that this area can be closed at many times of the year when the volcanic gas outbursts are strong.
The first thing that came to my mind when I reached this location was rotten eggs. You get a strong smell of sulphur as you come closer to the station. But the beautiful phenomenon of fuming compensates for the smell. The spring is yellowish white, and looks beautiful. There are several attractions around this place. There is a big restaurant and a souvenir shop minutes away from the station. This place is also known for a black ice cream that is said to be unique to this area. If you walk further, there is a lookout and a tea house from where you can see Lake Ashi. Ironically, you can actually boil eggs at the volcanic sulphur springs. It is a 30 minute walk from the station and is open only during a few hours per day. This local delicacy, called kurotamago (black egg), is said to increase longevity.
One side of the valley is whitish yellow because of the volcanic rocks and the other side appears to be bronze because of the clay. The sulphur vapor eruption is definitely the highlight of this area and brings tourists from all around the world. Hakone is one of the most interesting areas in Japan and attracts around 20 million people each year. This is one of the few places in the world where you can feel the earth breathing.