Owakudani In Japan – A Complete Guide To The Volcanic Valley

A scenic view of Mt. Fuji overlooking Lake Ashi
Photo by pixabay

You have finally saved enough for that vacation you’ve been putting off for a long time.

 

You’ve notified everyone that you will soon be going on a month-long vacation and have shared your emergency contacts.

 

From all indications, you are looking forward to experiencing a trip of a lifetime but there is still one important question you have not answered.

 

Where should you go on vacation?

 

Millions of people have turned to the internet for help in scouting for an exotic location to spend their vacation. And apart from the regulars such as Ibiza, Saint Tropez and the rest, Owakudani is one name that keeps coming up as an ideal vacation spot. But what is it and where is its location? This guide will answer all those questions and more.

 

What You Should Know About Owakudani?

Owakudani is an active volcanic valley in Hakone, Japan. Hakone, itself, is a mountainous region sandwiched between Japan’s famous Mount Fuji and the ocean. Anyway, the Owakudani valley was formed over 3,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption; and the volcanic activities show no signs of stopping any time soon.

 

Owakudani is famous for its active hot springs and sulfur vents which tourists find irresistible. Not only that, its scenic view of Japan’s famous Mount Fuji is something that is better experienced than told.

 

Are you now sold on the idea of paying Owakudani a visit?

 

If your answer is affirmative, then get online and check if it is open for visits. Due to the prevalence of volcanic gases, which can sometimes be poisonous, Owakudani is sometimes closed off to the public. So be sure it is opened before making any bookings.

 

What To Do In Hakone, Japan?

Experienced vacationers will tell you that one of the worst mistakes you can make while planning a trip is to just travel without a list of things to do. To ensure you are not a victim of this scenario, we have compiled a list of famous activities you should definitely partake in while in Hakone, Japan.

 

1.

Visit Lake Ashi

Lake Ashi
Photo by wikimedia

 

After dropping your bags at your hotel, begin your exploration at Lake Ashi immediately. Apart from its rich history – Lake Ashi was formed in a crater left by an extinct volcano – you will be forgiven for mistaking its environment as a paradise. This lake boasts of a beautiful environment brimming with the wonders of nature.

 

In addition, you can easily glimpse Mount Fuji from this lake. But hey, make sure to visit on a cloudless day if you want to get an Instagram-worthy picture of Fuji.

 

2.

Worship At Hakone Shrine

Hakone Shrine's famous gate
Photo by iz.wp

 

Totally awed by the beauty and calming influence of Lake Ashi? Then the Hakone Shrine, situated by the shore of the lake, will provide ample space for you to show reverence to Mother Nature while gazing at some of Japan’s most cherished relics.

 

Its iconic red wooden gate (torii) which is in the water can be seen from both the west and south side of Lake Ashi. So, there’s no chance at all that you will miss it. As for the shrine’s buildings itself, you can find them conveniently concealed in the forest.

 

Little wonder Hakone Shrine was a favourite of the legendary Japanese samurai warriors.

 

3.

Devour black eggs

Black eggs
Photo by ytimg

 

Now, enjoying the outdoors and all is good, but what about some grub for the stomach? And how does feasting on some black eggs sound?

 

Now before you wrinkle your nose at the oddity, do read further. Your experience in Hakone, Japan, will not be complete without tasting its most famous delicacy.

 

But it is not just readily available in every shop in the area, you will have to make a special journey to where it’s actually prepared in Owakudani. Ready?

 

Owakudani is in the middle of a ropeway stop between Lake Ashi and Gora. That’s right! To get there from Lake Ashi, for instance, you have to board a ropeway and go up.

 

Once you arrive, the first thing that stands out is the smoke and the distinct unpleasant smell of sulfur which is caused by the high level of volcanic activity in the area. The landscape itself is bare and devoid of any kind of life. But rest assured that the black eggs delicacy more than makes up for it.

 

The famous Owakudani black eggs are actually your everyday type of eggs with a key difference: they were boiled in the sulfur-laden hot spring waters which turned their shell black.

 

Legend has it that these Japanese eggs are good for fertility and can also boost your lifespan by seven years. So while we still await the secret to immortality, these Japanese eggs can be a substitute for now.

 

4.

Get To Hiking

If you are still in the mood for some outdoor adventure, then strap on your boots and trek on the numerous hiking trails in Owakudani. Since the area is relatively mountainous, you can find a trail that is just perfect for your experience as a hiker. And don’t get anxious if you have to hike alone.

 

You will definitely meet other nature-lovers like you on the hiking trails because Hakone is a famous member of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. In any case, if you can get to the mountain peaks, be prepared to be blown away by the stunning views of Fuji (again!) and other nearby mountains.

 

The locals here will tell you that the best time to go hiking is during fall; so keep that in mind when planning your trip.

 

5.

Cruise On The Ashinoko Warship Boat 

A pirate boat sailing Lake Ashi
Photo by insidejapantours

 

If you want something a little more daring than hiking to Lake Ashi, why not enlist in a boat ride? There are several boat services that traverse the lake, giving you a front row seat to the magnificence of Mt. Fuji.

 

And the most interesting thing?

 

These are not your everyday ferry boats; they are, in fact, warships complete with pirates, sails, commanders, and cannons! You can either use these boats to move from one end of the lake to another or to just see the interesting sights around Ashi.

 

Whatever your reason, don’t forget your eye-patch and a bottle of rum. Ahoy!

 

Space will not permit us to list all the delights that Owakudani has to offer but the activities listed in this article can be a good place to start from. Keep this guide bookmarked while visiting Hakone and give yourself a memorable experience.

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