Tag Archives: Japan

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!

Discovering 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.

For decades, Japan has always had its fair share of quirky gadgets meant to help out consumers in their daily lives. While always well-intentioned, they ranged from must-haves to “what the heck were they thinking?” Case in point: the Sony Walkman was a Japanese invention and revolutionized mankind’s relationship with music.

The Japanese have created a term for these sort of wacky gadgets: Chindōgu. The natural translation is “gadget,” but the literal translation is “strange (or curious) tool.” While there are still plenty of crazy inventions like the ones above floating around Japan, this article is going to introduce you to ten modern chindōgu that are actually quite clever while also being affordable enough to bring home. The basic criteria is that it has to be something that can be found either in any of the large electronics or department stores in Japan (Ito Yokado, K’s Denki, Bic Camera, etc.) or on Amazon JP and it has to be small enough to fit into a suitcase.

So let’s discover some of them below :

1. Fingertip Mittens

Have you ever tried to take a plate out of the microwave only to find that you have accidentally gone nuclear with your reheating? These rubber fingertip mittens were designed to give you enough grip and thermal protection to be able to remove those pesky overheated plates and bowls from your microwave sans the fingerprint removal.

2. Spatula Tongs

Have you ever tried to pick up a hamburger with a spatula only to have it slide off? Have you ever tried to pick up fish with tongs only to have it fall apart? Well, apparently enough folks over here have had the problem that someone went out and invented these clever rubber spatula tongs. It makes grilling fish a cinch, and you won’t ever have to be “that guy” who accidentally drops a burger at a barbeque.

3. Takoyaki Maker

Simply put, Takoyaki is octopus coated in dough and pan fried into a ball. I know that many of you readers out there will balk at the notion of eating octopus, but it provides a nice textural contrast to the doughy shell. For any who have tasted takoyaki before, you understand that why it is one of those quintessential Japanese street vendor foods that leaves you craving more. But Takoyaki can be hard to find outside Japan, and it is near impossible to cook without the proper tools.

Fear not, Japan has you covered. For just over 10 bucks, you can bring home this kitchen appliance that makes cooking takoyaki a cinch. Just be sure to pick up some of the takoyaki flour and sauces before you head home, and you’ll be ready to cook up some authentic takoyaki for your friends and family in no time.

4. Electric Nabe

It is sumo season again with the September Basho (tournament) in full swing. Sumo tournaments always make me crave chanko nabe, a meal where you basically throw a bunch of meat, veggies, tofu, etc. into a pot, boil it up, and eat it with some sauce and rice. This handy appliance gives you the opportunity to make your own chanko nabe at home with ease. The fact that it is electric means it is a minimal fire hazard and makes it extremely versatile in where you can use it (at home, the office, a dorm room, etc.). Of course, you don’t just have to use it for chanko nabe—it’s perfect for sukiyaki, shabu shabu, or any other type of meal you would cook and serve in an earthenware pot.

5. Sake Warmer

This is one of the pricier options on this list, but for good reason. Many people who enjoy sake (nihonshu) prefer it served warm, but there is both an art and science to heating sake. Heat it too much, and you alter the flavor. Don’t heat it enough, and it will just taste like you left it in a stuffy car. Also, the utensil you use to heat it could affect the flavor based on any minerals or residue on a pot or other vessel you may use. So what do you do?

Enter this sake warmer. The earthenware kettle is designed to be a sake vessel, so you don’t have to worry about it inadvertently affecting the flavor. Also, the device heats the sake to the perfect drinking temperature, so it takes all of the guesswork out of it. So if you really enjoy quality sake and prefer it served warm, do yourself a favor and get one of these.

6. Sandwich Shaper

Okay, so these aren’t life-changing gadgets, and they may be a little on the impractical side, but did you notice that they can turn a standard sandwich into a 3D Panda, frog, or bear? So they may be a little unnecessary, but it is the perfect souvenir for being able to bring home Japanese “cute” culture with you and sharing it with friends and family.

Museums are interesting for some, boring for others but what about those museums where the world’s weirdest things are stored. Interesting, isn’t it? It is the museum of dreams where you can find the strangest yet interesting enough to make you want to visit again; well some maybe!

Museums like these are a must visit for everyone with or without family.

12). The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Japan

Located in Osaka prefecture, this is a ramen museum. Japan is pretty much known for its delicious instant ramen, which comes in various flavours. This one is dedicated to the inventor of instant ramen and noodles, Momofuku Ando, who is also the founder of Nissin brand. You can visit the instant ramen workshop here, and make your own instant noodles, but do make reservations for it. You can also visit the noodle factory located here.

11). Museum of Burnt Food

This museum came out of a long telephonic conversation that caused the food to burn, thus the museum. This museum is dedicated to burnt food; the main attraction of the museum is the batch of sweet potatoes slowly cooked by the pilot light of the oven for more than 5 weeks. Follow the motto of their museum – “Always leave the flame on low and then take a long nap” and submit your own creation.

10). The Bunny Museum

With 28,000 bunnies, this world record holding museum has everything to make you feel happiest- that is their slogan ‘The Hoppiest Place in The World’. This museum is fully dedicated to bunnies be it stuffed bunnies, cookie-jar bunnies or even giant bunnies. It is a Guinness World Record for possessing the most bunny items in the world.

9). International UFO Museum and Research Center

This museum has all that we want to know about extraterrestrial life and how they really are. It has all the proofs of UFOs sightings and other of extraterrestrial lives which are enough to make anyone want to visit for the first time or again. It is a treat for those sci-fi lovers as well as normal people!

8). Mini Bottle Gallery

Surprisingly all types of bottles be it from the small ketchup bottle to the miniature shampoo bottle world’s largest miniature collection of bottles is found here. The design and the architecture are breath-taking and interesting to captivate your mind into its bizarre beauty. Housing around 50,000 miniature bottles, they also serve drinks from the normal ones. It is listed in Oslo’s sight-seeing guides, visiting is a must then!

7). Museum of Mathematics

The Museum of Mathematics is a heaven for all maths nerds and surely they will love it. It represents all the structures of the society on the basis of maths; it has everything required for all ages there and it is guaranteed fun. Mathematicians do interact with the audience and encourage them to love the subject with interesting topics are “The Geometry of Origami”, “The Patterns of Juggling”, and “Mathematical Morsels from The Simpsons and Futurama”.

6). Museum of Enduring Beauty

According to the different cultures, there are different depictions of beauty both being interesting and frightening. This museum is dedicated to beauty gained through pain and agony, among the different concepts of beauty exhibited are skin tattooing, stretching lips by the insertion of round discs, molding heads into oval shapes and restricting the growth of feet. It is a totally different level of beauty variants from around the world!

5). Condom Museum

The name is enough to make people go and visit. Condom Museum is situated in Amsterdam’s red light area. It is the world’s first condom museum where the taboo is broken about the sale and purchase of condom openly. It gives free advice about the sizes, allergy if any and type that you need to use. In-depth knowledge of condom is needed there!

4). Cancun Underwater Museum

Heaven for divers, this place is a man-made beauty for the conversation of the aquatic world. Artificial reefs are made, in order to protect the natural ones from being ruined by humans. Jason deCaires Taylor and Dr. Gonzalez Canto along with 26 other artists created these underwater sculptures made out of artificial reefs. This initiative was made to protect the damaged natural reefs from getting worse. A must visit is certainly required there though.

3). Sulabh International Toilet Museum

This museum set up to promote personal hygiene, environmental sanitation, and social reforms through education. It is a totally different concept used to show how sanitation is important for the well being of someone. Founded in 1970, it is an initiative taken by Mr. Pathak from Bihar. Kudos is all I can say!

2). Museum of Bad Art-

Well here is the museum where Lily Aldrin needs to show her artworks, (any ‘how I met your mother’ fan will know what I am referring to); anyways, this museum is dedicated to celebrating the labor of artists whose work would be displayed and appreciated in no other forum. The museum is strange as it contains artworks which are not necessarily one of Van Gogh’s works; it is just a simple artwork.

1). Icelandic Phallological Museum

With a collection of 280 specimens from 93 species of animals includes 55 penises taken from whales, 36 from seals and 118 from land mammals, allegedly including Huldufólk (Icelandic elves) and trolls. In July 2011, the museum obtained its first human penis, one of four promised by would-be donors but unfortunately, its detachment from the donor’s body did not go according to plan and it was reduced to a greyish-brown shriveled mass pickled in a jar of formalin. The museum is still in the search for “a younger and a bigger and better one.”

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