Owakudani Valley: visit the fumaroles of Hakonehttps://nipponrama.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/owakudani-hakone.jpg19001267Michaël da Silva PaternosterMichaël da Silva Paternosterhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/0ece82c9698e1598033a79bbb151c5e1?s=96&d=blank&r=g
Owakudani is a volcanic valley located in Hakone. This geological curiosity is known for its fumaroles giving off sulfur vents and its amazing view of Mount Fuji.
I am Michael, a French who live in Tokyo since 2016. I share my travel recommendations in Japan and tips to live in this country on my blog, Nipponrama.
Value for money
Owakudani is a good place to see Mount Fuji during the sunny days. But fumaroles are not particularly fascinating.
I don’t advise travelers who stay only one day in Hakone to stop for a long time in this volcanic valley, unless you have an interest in vulcanology.
If you stay in Hakone for several days, you can add Owakudani into your itinerary. Especially if you like hiking or if you plan to go to Lake Ashi and the Haya River Valley in the same day.
Discover the Owakudani Valley
A small path allows you to reach the volcanic area from the Hakone cable car station and the bus stops. It will take you only ten minutes to reach the fumaroles and boiling water wells.
Avoid going to Owakudani if you have heart or breathing difficulties, including asthma, because sulfur-laden clouds can have a detrimental effect on your health.
The fumaroles of Mount Hakone
The fumaroles of Owakudani, Hakone. Photo by Michaël da Silva Paternoster.
This part of the mountain has been smoking since the last volcanic eruption of Mount Hakone, about 3000 years ago. These clouds are mainly composed of water vapor, carbon dioxide and sulphide dioxide. This last substance gives off a foul odor reminiscent of rotten eggs. The emanations leave impressive grayish marks on the ground.
The vapor can reach 100 ° C. Don’t get too close because you might get burned.
Hiking Kamiyama and Komagatake Mountains
There are several ways to hike through Owakudani. Some of them are often closed because of volcanic gases. You’ll need to learn about the volcanic situation of the region before preparing your ride in the mountains.
The best-known path starts at the cable car station and goes to the summit of Mount Kamiyama. You can then continue climbing to the top of Komagatake Mountain. This two-hour hike is tough. The path is steep and rocky. Don’t consider doing this if you aren’t well equipped.
A view of Mount Fuji from the Hakone’s hell
View of Mount Fuji behind a tourist bus, in Owakudani, Hakone. Photo by Michaël da Silva Paternoster for Nipponrama.
When the sky is clear, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Fuji from Owakudani. It’s also possible to see the sacred mountain during the cable car ride. To do this, I advise you to sit on the seats to your left when you get into a cabin to climb Mount Hakone.
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Owakudani black eggs
You can taste the boiled eggs cooked for an hour in the boiling water of Owakudani. They’re called “Kuro-tamago”, which means “Black Eggs” because their shells turn black because of sulfur. But don’t be afraid, the locals say of this product that it extends the life of the person who eats it by seven years.
The Owakudani Valley is actually a crater of Mount Hakone. It appeared during the last eruption of this volcano, about 3000 years ago. This volcanic zone is still active today, which explains why sulfur smoke escapes from the ground and small bubbling ponds.
This volcanic valley was formerly called “Daigoku”, which means “The Great Hell”. But it was renamed “Owakudani”, which means “The Great Bubbling Valley” just before a visit by Emperor Meiji in the nineteenth century.
Hotel in Hakone
Want to stay more than a day in Hakone? I share with you a selection of the best ryokans, these traditional Japanese hotels, in this hot springs with views of Mount Fuji.
The site opens every day from 8:30 am. All public transport stops at 5 pm. The roads leading to Owakudani seem to be closed around this time. Be sure to leave before being alone in this dangerous valley.
You can access Owakudani for free. You will just have to pay the transportation fees to reach this part of Mount Hakone.
Time required for the visit
Count a little less than an hour if you only want to see the fumaroles and enjoy the cable car ride.
View of Mount Fuji from the Hakone cable car. Photo by Michaël da Silva Paternoster for Nipponrama.
How to reach the Owakudani Valley
Map to get to Owakudani
Find the shortest route to the Owakudani Valley with Google Maps.
You can reach the Owakudani Valley with the Hakone Cable Car. You can enter a cabin from Togendai Station, off Lake Ashi and the wharves that host the pirate ships that cross this waterhole. This trip costs 1000 yen and lasts about 15 minutes. It’s also possible to go down by cable car to the other side of Mount Hakone. If you prefer this option, you will arrive at the GORA station, a few meters from the Haya River.
Several bus lines serve Owakudani. You can easily reach the volcanic valley from the stations of Odawara (served by the Shinkansen) and Hakone-Yumoto on the line Hakone Tozan. The journey from Odawara to Owakudani takes about an hour and costs around 1000 yen.
The area is sometimes closed to visitors when there’s important seismic activity. For example, the site was closed from May 2015 to April 2016 for this reason. As I said earlier, the Owakudani Valley is a very active volcanic area. The best way to know if you can go to Owakudani is to check that there’s no warning message on the Hakone cable car line website.
Michaël da Silva Paternoster
I’m a French guy living in Tokyo, where I work as a digital marketing manager and consultant for several years now. I’ve decided to share my travel recommendations and various tips to help people settle in Japan.