Sunday, March 18, 2012

Owakudani in Hakone - in a friggin' volcano!

After leaving the open air museum, we were headed off to Owakudani, which is the mouth of the dormant volcano, Mount Hakone.  In order to get up there, we took the Hakone Ropeway, which is 700 meters to 1000 meters above sea level (depending on the Ropeway's final destination).  On clear days Mt. Fuji is visible. But not for us, the clouds rolled in too densely for us to get any sort of clear visibility.  Otherwise, check out the views from the cable car!

At this point we're passing over the huge crater that is the mouth of Mt. Hakone.  It looks like there's a lot of construction going on, but it's construction to prevent landslides.  There's a picture below that describes exactly what's going on.

Ok, so this is what my view shows.  I'm standing at the very top of the exit of the cable car building, looking down at the mouth of the volcano on the left hand side, with all those concrete reinforcements.  To the right of the crater are the food stands and site-seeing areas, all concentrated around that one roofed building.  Above the roof building in the wee-background is where you have to hike to in order to see where the black eggs are made.

These are clickable, they describe why they're building in the mouth of the volcano.  Cliff notes: to prevent landslides from affecting the downhill river.

Once you get off the cable car, it hits you, the smell of sulfur.  If you're not sure what sulfur smells like, think of hard-boiled eggs that have been peeled and have been sitting in a warm room.  It's not like standing on a pig farm in Chino, but more like standing a mile away from a pig farm on a windy day.

On my way up to where the black eggs are made...

Getting closer...

And here we are!  The eggs are bathed in the sulfur-enriched hot springs, turning the outer shell black in the process.  It is said that eating one of the black eggs from this area will add seven years to your life.  I ate three, with two more in my fridge!  You had to buy 5 eggs for 500 yen, hah, I had no choice.

I would have loved to make a stop-motion GIF for the trip up to the top, but there were too many people and the steps were very uneven, so it would have been unsafe for myself, others, and my phone!

For all I know, it says "big fucking volcano used to be here"  I know that the "big" part is spot on, ha.

My five black eggs with the little packet of salt.

I'm thinking that the hike that I was about to explore was meant to be more of a sacred journey.  I didn't connect the two until I saw this picture here.  Like the shinto shrines, you were supposed to cleanse yourself before going onto the hike.  I think.  No english guides here so I'm doing my best!

At the start of the real climb.

And now, time for a snack!  Squid on a stick!  Imagine a huge squid ball, but in a large, flat, hash-brown-on-a-stick form.  Very tasty, but also a very odd place to be served.

That's it for tonight.  I have the last update for March 18th's trip, but it's getting late and the rambling WILL ensue if I don't stop now.  

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