Traveling through Japan is everyone’s dream as it is one country where you can expect to be welcome as a part of the culture, and you get to see all the advanced technologies created in this amazing country. As someone who is in love with the Asian continent, writing about Japan is a must! So today, we are going to talk about Owakudani and its legend of black eggs. Owakudani, also known as ‘the Great Boiling Valley,’ is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Created around 3000 years ago due to the explosion of the Hakone volcano, this place has become a famous tourist spot. The scenic views, volcanic activity, and the most famous Black Eggs or “Kuro-Tamago” are the main reason why this place is always hoarding with a ton of tourists from all over the world. Before getting the depth of the subject, let’s discover Owakudani!
Some 3000 years go during the last eruption of Mount Hakone, Owakudani was created. It was finally formed in the following 100 years due to high volcanic activity. Originally called “Ojikoku” or “Jigokudani,” it was renamed Owakudani in 1873 after Meiji Emperor and Empress visit. It was later that the Owakudani Tourist Center was set up along the vicinity of the volcanic craters and sulphur springs, resulting in a great visit from tourists.
To reach Owakudani, you should make a stop at Hakone as it is in this city that lies the legend of the black eggs. Traveling for about an hour and a half by train from Tokyo, you are greeted by the mountains of Hakone, making this trip a popular one as a getaway from the capital. Often locally referred to as the “The Death Valley,” this place is sandwiched between Japan’s famous Mount Fuji and the ocean, that’s why it is better to experience this scenic paradise than being told about. However, due to volcanic activities and bad weather, the site might close for some days or weeks even, depending on the events. Be sure that it is open before you make any bookings!
What Is the Secret Behind the Black Eggs?
The atmosphere of Owakudani is wild as the white smoke, and the smell of sulphur is floating, giving you a sense of landing on a different planet. As mentioned, the previous name was “Jigokudani,” which literally meant the valley in hell, and if someone visited this place, they would agree to why this name fits perfectly. One of the most popular foods in Owakudani is the black eggs or “Kuro-Tamago.” These are regular eggs boiled in the hot springs found everywhere around the place.
The shell darkens due to the chemical reaction because of the sulphur. The inside of the egg is similar to a normal boiled egg, but it tastes a little bit saltier than regular eggs. It is believed that the guardian deity of children, “Enmeijizo” who represents the longevity, is enshrined in there, so eating one egg would add seven years more to your life. These black eggs are sold at the shop beside Owakudani where other souvenirs and the ice cream made from black eggs are also available.
You can devour some eggs while on the top of the Mount as there are tables placed for visitors to get the taste of these freshly boiled eggs. Well, it is not essential to visit Owakudani if you want the eggs as they are sold in many shops around the town in small bags of six for 500 Yen.
Once you reach this amazing place, the first thing that stands out is the smoke and the distinct unpleasant smell of sulphur which is caused by the high level of volcanic activity in the area. The landscape is bare and devoid of any kind of life, but the delicacy of the black eggs make up for it. The famous Owakudani black eggs are also considered to be excellent for fertility and not to mention the increase in lifespan. The process of the boiling of these eggs is simple yet dangerous for the health. The eggs are stacked in a tray and then plunged into the thermal pools, after which they come out looking all black. Visitors are allowed to see only a part of this process as the high presence of hydrogen sulfide, and sulphur dioxide in the air make it toxic for people to breathe.
Is It Worth Going?
Well, apart from Owakudani, there are a lot of places to visit after this fantastic place! You can get into hiking if you are an adventure lover – strap on tour boots and trek on the numerous hiking trails in Owakudani. As the place is already mountainous, there is always a trail somewhere for you to join in. You can also try a cruise on the Ashinoko Warship Boat, where you will be greeted to the amazing view of Mount Fuji.