Here, you can feel the earth virtually breathe at Hakone.
Hakone is so well known as a great spa point full of nature all around.
It’s loaded with charms so tempting that, once visited, you are apt to repeat visiting a lot more times more.
Hakone has a lot to offer, but, if asked to pick the one you shouldn’t miss, that is Owakudani - by all means.
Owakudani is a stage of live volcanic activities still on the go and offers you truly dramatic sights portraying the breaths of the earth right in front of you.
Now, we are about to take you on a tour of Owakudani and its untiring charms.
What is Owakudani?
Owakudani emerged some 3,000 years ago when the mountains crumbled at the eruption of Hakone volcanoes,
leaving craters thereabouts - one of which turned out to be what we now know at Owakudani.
Its rugged looks named it “Great Abyss” or “Hell Canyon” but, the royal visit by Emperor and Empress Meiji in 1873 occasioned to rename it Owakudani.
Charms of Owakudani
The most attractive of all is the way white smoke incessantly shoots out everywhere.
The smoke is essentially a mixture of vapor and carbon dioxide but a volcanic gas also shoots out containing hydrogen sulfide and other elements.
All these elements kill the foliage in the neighborhood and have turned the rocks into the clay.
On some part of the rock surface is shown crystallized sulfur.
As you trek toward the trail (now off limit), you meet the image of Enmei Jizoson.
Years ago, the Buddhist saint Kobo Daishi was so grieved by the hellish sight of Owakudani that he built Enmei Jizoson for comfort.
Thenceforth, Enmei Jizoson helped salvage the trogulid from pains and came to be called Jizo for long life and child-rearing.
You cleanse your hands with “Shinsen no Yu” springing by the structure and pray – showering the image of Jizoson with the warm water.
Beware now that this warm water is not drinkable, and so never have even a sip.
Owakudani’s specialty “Black Egg” to stretch your life!?
Here’s something we want you to taste: Owakudani’s specialty “Black Egg”.
The secret of its shocking blackness lies in the content of the thermal spring.
These black eggs are boiled well in the 80°C-water pond of Owakudani and steamed fast past the volcanic vapor.
A chemical reaction of the volcanic gas contained within the vapor and hot spring agents turn the eggs pitch black.
They say one black egg stretches your life sevenfold thanks to the blessings of Enmei Jizo.
There are published some scientific evidence as to the nutritious value of the black egg 20% higher than that of the ordinary boiled egg.
So, black eggs are, mark you, a lot tastier and more nutritious than regular boiled eggs.
You can buy those just-steamed black eggs for ¥500 for a bag of five (with salt), daily at any of the nearby shops.
The biggest of them all, “Kuro Tamago Kan”, exhibit a variety of sweets and souvenirs of their own.
It’s fun just looking at them.
Treat yourself to those nutrition-rich, black eggs of Owakudani.
Mt. Fuji as viewed from Owakudani
Mt. Fuji is magnificent as viewed from any other spots in the neighborhood but the best of all should be Owakudani,
wherefrom this symbolic mountain stands absolutely breathtaking.
The weather just right, you can appreciate Mt. Fuji at its best – the very best from the parking lot or where Kuro Tamago Kan is situated.
Find yourself the best angle for your photo-taking.
Don’t forget; it’s also through the window of the Ropeway for Owakudani that you can overlook Mt. Fuji in its yet another delicious form.
When taking photos through the ropeway windows, be sure to hold tight to your camera, lest you should miss the best shutter chance.
Some precautions on visiting Owakudani:
All shops and the parking lot are closed at 16:00 in Owakudani.
You’d better time it to arrive there around noon to give yourself extra hours for sightseeing.
・On Volcanic gas
Bear in mind that certain poisonous gas drifts in the vicinity of Owakudani harmful to your body.
Routine observations are on for 24 hours around the clock.
If you should sense a strong smell or your eyes and throat irritated, leave the spot, wherever you are.
Those with respiratory defects and/or heart diseases or those of you who do not feel fit ought to refrain from visiting Owakudani.
Whenever public warning, due to volcanic gas or weather conditions, against entering Owakudani and its vicinity,
you should consult the information available at the official website, etc., and obey due instruction.
On accessing Owakudani:
If you plan to drive your way, be aware of lengthy queue-ups, often 1-2 hours, for parking.
You do well by allowing yourself extra hours on the day of your visit – particularly on days when congestion is expected.
If taking public means of transportation, you are advised to move about via the ropeways,
thereby you may enjoy great views of Mt. Fuji, the Lake Ashinoko, and whatever attractive sceneries that pass your way.
What do you say, folks?
Do plan yourself an attractive tour of Owakudani awaiting you with a great set of the great fun of being amid a rugged natural environment.