POSTED BY DANNY CHOO On Sat 2011/01/29 20:15 JST in Places to visit in Japan

Spent a few days in Hakone recently - specifically near Owakudani. Getting away from the hustle n bustle of the metropolis for a while is always nice.

Filling up before we head off by car. Regular now down to 97 yen per liter - used to be nearly double a while ago.
Trains are convenient but you cant really stop half way to get out and explore - unless you are good at jumping off trains.

We always try to travel when others are not - would spend most of our time in traffic if we did. Spent 5 hours in traffic once when driving out of Tokyo on a Saturday. This time we went on a Monday morning.

Arrive at our destination and go to grab some grub.

Mmmmmmmm. Just had brekkie but feel hungry as I write this.

Owakudani is translated as "Great Boiling Valley" and is located in a volcanic area which experienced eruptions 3000 years ago. The area was once known as Jigokudani or "Hell Valley" but was renamed to Owakudani just for the Emperors visit in 1876.

Today the area still emits sulfuric fumes and these eggs are boiled in the naturally hot waters turning them black. Consuming one egg is said to extend ones life by 7 years. One can eat up to two eggs but eating 3 is not recommended.

Something for dessert.

Some local dumplings.

Kitty-chan gets hard boiled.

There is "Kuro-Tamago" at the time of running out of stock and pardon it, please.

Be knowist that some of the volcanic gas in the area can be dangerous and they recommend that you do not stay in the area for too long. If you notice your skin turning green together with bleeding around your eyes and ears - then get the hell out of there.

You are forbidden to enter the valley if you are:-
- A person who is asthmatic and has delicate bronchitis
- A person who has heart disease
- A person of weak constitution
- A person who doesn't feel well except for the above (?)
- A person who is under the influence of liquor

Despite the warnings, everybody still goes into the valley.

Trekking up the mountain.

Volcanic gasses approaching.

"And this is what the volcanic gasses look like. Never inhale the gasses like this" *inhales deeply* "as it will damage your lungs permanen..." *drops to floor*

Kagami enjoys the scenery.

The black eggs are boiled in this area and carried down to the shops near the parking lot by a cart thingy on a rope way.

The sulfuric gasses smell of a mixture of farts, eggs and smelly cheesy feet.

Many tourists.

Drinking this sacred water will enable you to catch bullets between your eyelids.

Mount Fuji can be seen from the valley on a clear day - on a cloudy day one can see a load of clouds.

After spending a few hours at the valley its back to the hotel.

On the way to the room - some spare Yukata in the corridor.

The rooms are Washiki - the term for traditional Japanese.

Comes with a unit bathroom - a huge sheet of plastic which has been molded to provide the hygiene area. Thought these were incredibly cool when I first came to Japan to experience them.

At most traditional hotels, there is some tea and snacks on placed on the table in your room which are also conveniently sold at the hotel store. Here we have some Shiitake (mushroom) tea and some dumplings.

Traveled with wifey and former colleague Jay from Amazon together with his wife and little boy.
Jay also used to work at Microsoft and currently works on the Payment systems at Amazon - an incredible engineer and Program Manager.

Dinner was a full course of yummy traditional Japanese dishes.


Chawan Mushi - its egg with some bits of dead animals inside.


Salmon in pastry thingy.

Bits n pieces boiled in hot water.

Huge bowl of something.

Final dish - rice, miso soup and pickles.

Dessert with Kagami.

A stroll outside the hotel after dinner.

The main lobby in the hotel. They had cutie girls running up to you with hot lemon drinks ^^

Gorgeous packaging of foodstuffs at the hotel store.

Picked up a bunch before heading back to Tokyo.

The hotel was the Green Plaza Hotel and cost about 25000 yen per night.

As with most traditional hotels, when you check in, you are asked what time you want to have dinner. They ask for a few reasons. The first reason is so that they can control how many folks are using the dining hall and the other reason is so that they can go and prepare your bed which is ready for you after eating.
Notice how they moved the tables away to set up the futon which is stored away in the cabinet.

The hotel has its own hot spring onsen both indoors and outdoors.
The process is that you take off all your clothes and walk into the bathing room in your birthday kit. Only after washing off can you head to the hot baths.

We previously had a few folks from the US come over who didn't want to go to an onsen because they didn't like the thought of showing everybody their bouncy dolphin or pururin oppai.

Folks staying at the hotel generally wear the yukata provided - its comfortable and easy to remove as many enjoy the onsen a few times a day.

Back in the room enjoying some Kemeko Deluxe.

The breakfast in the morning is buffet style.

Some Hanjuku Tamago or half boiled egg.

Cloudy the previous day but gorgeous blue skies the next morning.

Park the car half way to enjoy the view. Watching the trees on the mountain rippling in the wind was lovely.

On the road back to Tokyo.

Stopping again to catch some views.

The road seems to wind on forever going down the mountain...

...and our carnavi shows you what it was like. This is Intestine Valley.

Gorgeous drive back to the metropolis.

And back in Tokyo - work awaits with some Okonomiyaki for lunch.

Then its out to Shibuya for the night for meetings.

Absolutely love Tokyo but over parts of Japan are lovely too. Have seen some of it but want to spend time this year seeing more. Where do you or would you travel when visiting Japan?