【Hakone】Owakudani Valley – Feel the power of nature in the white smoke that kills trees


Hakone boasts overwhelming popularity as a hot spring resort near Tokyo. In addition to hot springs, Hakone offers a wide variety of gourmet foods and art spots, as well as natural scenery that makes you want to take pictures of it.

There are many spots in Hakone where one can feel the life force of nature, such as the vastness of Lake Ashi, the lush greenery of trees, silver grass in Sengokuhara, and hydrangea along the Hakone Tozan Railway, but Owakudani stands out from the rest. Among the lush greenery of Hakone, this is the only place where the trees have withered away and the reddish-brown surface of the mountains is visible. This is also the breath of the earth!

Access to Owakudani

Owakudani can be reached by car or by the Hakone Ropeway, which connects Sounzan Station to Togendai Station on the shore of Lake Ashi. The road to the parking lot at Owakudani Station can be crowded, so it is recommended to use the ropeway.

This time I took the ropeway from Sounzan Station to Owakudani Station. Sounzan Station is a transfer station for the Hakone Tozan Cable Car, and on the second floor is a popular relaxation spot called “cu-mo Hakone” where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Hakone Outer Rim Mountains from the terrace zone. You can also soak in the footbath to warm your tired feet and refresh yourself.

The gondola seats 18 people, and fortunately there were no other passengers, so we enjoyed the ride as a private party. Every side of the gondola is made of glass, so you can enjoy the view from any angle of 360 degrees. Each station of the Hakone Cable Car takes about 15 minutes, but I don’t think it took that long when I boarded. I heard that the time varies depending on how crowded it is, so the cable car operated smoothly at that time when it was empty.

Even before arriving at Owakudani Station, I could see white smoke rising from the mountain. I was excited to see a scene that was completely different from the scenery of Hakone so far.

Now we have arrived at Owakudani Station, the highest point on the Hakone Ropeway at an altitude of 1044 meters! Now let’s take a closer look at Owakudani.


Owakudani was created when the 1438-meter-high Kamiyama, the highest peak in the Hakone mountain range, collapsed due to an eruption about 3,000 years ago. Even today, the volcano continues to be active, with plumes of hydrogen sulfide containing fumes rising from many places. The powerful sight of boiling cauldrons and fumaroles spewing white smoke is one of the highlights of sightseeing in Hakone.

Until the Edo period, it was called “Jigokudani (Hell Valley)”, but when the Emperor Meiji visited, it was named “Owakudani” because hell sounded rude to the Emperor.

Owakudani Kurotamago-kan

Owakudani’s black eggs are said to be good for life: “Eating one will prolong your life span by seven years”. The Owakudani Kurotamago-kan is where you can purchase Owakudani’s specialty black eggs and black egg goods.

When a raw egg is slowly boiled in a hot spring pond at 80°C for 60 minutes, a chemical reaction between geothermal heat and volcanic gases causes the ingredients of the hot spring pond to adhere to the porous shell, resulting in a boiled egg with a black shell. Steaming them in the above at about 100°C for about 15 minutes produces “black eggs.”

The legend of prolonging your life span (Enmei) is said to have come to be associated with Enmei Jizoson, a Jizo statue in Owakudani that is said to prolong one’s life and bring up children. The number seven is also used as a lucky number for the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, and so people began to say that their lives would be prolonged for seven years.

Of course, I also purchased black eggs in the hope of prolonging my life. It comes with other black eggs and salt. I bought four eggs in total (they came in a pack of four), so I ate one right away and the other three (I’m not a big fan of hard yolks) I had them on a crushed egg sandwich after I got home. Prolonging life by delicious food, the best!

Puffing Ground (Owakudani Nature Study Road)

The Nature Study Path is a 700-meter path that takes visitors close to the volcanic fumes. The path is filled with the smell of volcanic gases, and visitors can observe the nature unique to volcanic areas and learn more about the origins of volcanoes. For safety reasons, however, admission is by advance reservation only. It is also interesting to see the “egg steaming area” where black eggs are made!

On a fine day, you can see beautiful Mt. Fuji from Owakudani. However, Mt. Fuji viewing in Hakone is actually quite rare, and it is said that it is seen only 100 days a year. You can take the ropeway from Owakudani to Togendai and enjoy a magnificent view of Mt. Fuji on the beautiful day!

Owakudani, with its unique charms, should be added to your wish list for a trip to Hakone.

Owakudani Valley

Address1251-1 Sengokuhara, Hakone-machi, Ashigara-shimogun, KANAGAWA
Open Hour9:00 – 17:00
** The Parking at Owakudani: 9:00 – 16:00 / Entrances and exits locked after hours