Be awed by storm clouds of volcanic steam that gather over the active volcano, Owakudani (大涌谷), the Great Boiling Valley. Created around 3,000 years ago, today the crater-valley is a popular tourist site, despite the ominous and evocative name. The volcanic valley is still alive today with active sulfur vents and hot springs. Once called the “Grand Inferno” or “Great Hell” thanks to the streams of white sulfuric smoke reaching toward the sky, it was renamed when the Meiji Emperor and Empress visited Hakone in 1873 because locals hesitated to invite the two to a place with such a foreboding name.
Marvel from the Hakone Ropeway, 130 m above the valley bottom. Sulfur and water vapor pour out at about 100°C. The terrible landscape creates an image of hell that had even famed Japanese Buddhist monk, Kūkai, offer a prayer to Bodhisattva at the sight. At sunset, the sunlight from Lake Ashi glitters off the waters to offer a beautiful sight one might not expect next to the nightmarish landscape.
While here, be sure to try the legendary kuro-tamago—hot spring hard-boiled eggs with shells turned black by the iron sulfide in the volcanic waters—these treats are only available at Owakudani. Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. At the top of the observation deck overlooking Owakudani you might even spot the majestic Mount Fuji on a fine day, this being one of the best spots to see it from.
Access Owakudani by the Hakone Ropeway from Owakudani Station, or by bus. Although it is advised that people with asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, pacemakers, and pregnant women not enter the valley due to high volcanic activity. The volcanic gas concentration and temperature are constantly measured at the Hakone Ropeway stations to ensure the safety of guests and the site may be temporarily closed due to high levels of gas or volcanic activity.
Volcanic alerts were lifted on Friday Nov 15th 2019, ending a six-month closure that saw most parts of the Owakudani area temporarily closed to access due to an increase in volcanic gases.
The area is now safe to access, though it is advised that those with respiratory problems, heart conditions, pregnant women or young children do not enter the valley due to slight risk from volcanic fumes.
The kuro-tamago, or black eggs, of Owakudani are as famous as they are terrible to look at. You might wonder if it’s really worth it to eat the sulfur-pit boiled egg, but be at ease; the eggs are tasty and perfectly safe. It’s believed that eating just one will add 7 years to your life.Discover Kuro-tamago (black eggs)
Owakudani’s Visitor Center is said to be one of the best places to see Mt. Fuji from. It’s true that the viewpoint has given some amazing shots of the famed Mt. Fuji—be sure to check weather forecasts for clear skies or you may be sorely disappointed.
Ride 130 meters above Hakone’s Owakudani on the Hakone Ropeway. The suspended car will take you to and from Owakudani’s lookout point; up and down either side of the mountain. The view from the Lake Ashi side can offer beautiful views of Mt. Fuji and the lake, while the ropeway over Owakudani itself gives some truly terrific shots of the valley.Discover Hakone Ropeway
From the starting station of Hakone-Yumoto, it takes a little over half an hour to reach Owakudani Station. From Owakudani Station, visitors may ride the Hakone Ropeway to Owakudani. The Izuhakone Bus also leaves from Hakone-Yumoto Station and stops at Owakudani Visitor Center.
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Enjoy the best of Hakone through this traditional ryokan
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