Owakudani and Hakone

Posted on Sunday, November 29, 2009 | 0 comments

   We took a day trip over to Owakudani and Hakone today, about a 2-hour drive from here if you take traffic into account.
 Owakudani (Great Boiling Valley), is a volcanic valley that has a ton of sulphur vents and natural hot springs. And let me tell you, for as beautiful as it is, it smells just as bad! Still, the stench doesn't deter the tons of tourists who visit it every year: the Hakone Ropeway up to Owakudani has the distinction of being the busiest gondola lift in the world, according to Guinness.
  We had originally planned on driving up to Owakudani, but the massive traffic jam starting 2 km from the top was enough to make us turn around and take the ropeway up from Hakone instead. I'm guessing that the lack of parking at the top (the cause of the traffic jam) is a contributing factor to the ropeway's world record!

  Besides being famous for its beauty and stench, Owakudani is also known for the black eggs that are hard-boiled in the sulpher hot springs. It's said that if you eat one, you increase your life span by 7 years. However, after dealing with the sulphuric smell of rotten hard-boiled eggs the whole time we were up there, nobody really wanted to bother actually eating one!

               The sign says: 'I rode the ropeway. It was fun!'

You're never too old to fight with your siblings in public....

Eggs being delivered to the top via a pulley system

Taking hard-boiled eggs out of the hot spring

  After taking the ropeway back down to Hakone, we drove around to the opposite side of the lake and spent a little time on the main street, watching the sunset over Ashi no ko (a beautiful lake) and browsing in a few stores.

 Hakone is famous for parquetry (I had to look up the term in English), which is a geometric mosaic of wooden pieces, used for decoration. These mosaics are inlaid on wooden boxes, chopsticks, tea sets, you name it. I unfortunately didn't get any pictures of these, but I'm sure there are images online if you're really that interested.

The guys taking a break with a new-found friend