If you’re looking for an adventure where you can see steam rising from the ground, smell sulfur in the air, and taste eggs boiled in hot springs, check out Owakudani volcanic valley in Hakone.
In this article, I will share everything you need to know about Owakudani: how to get there, what to do, and what to expect.
Where is Owakudani volcanic valley?
The Owakudani volcanic valley is in Hakone, a popular tourist destination in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.
Hakone is about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, and you can easily reach by train or bus.
The valley is also part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, which covers a vast natural beauty and cultural heritage area. The park includes Mount Fuji, the Izu Peninsula, and several islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Is Owakudani volcanic valley worth visiting?
Yes, Owakudani is one of the most fascinating places in Hakone. Here are some of the reasons why you should not miss this opportunity:
- Witness the volcanic activity that shaped this valley and still continues.
- Enjoy the natural beauty of the valley and its surroundings.
- Experience the local culture and cuisine of Hakone
- Relax in the Owakudani hot springs and soak in the mineral-rich water
Overall, Owakudani Volcanic Valley Hakone is a place that will surprise you. Trust me; you won’t regret going to this amazing place.
Tips: You can join a day tour from Tokyo that takes you to Mount Fuji, Hakone, and Owakudani.
How to get to Owakudani?
There are several ways to get to Owakudani, depending on your budget, time, and preference. Here are some of the options you can choose from:
Drive to Owakudani by taking the Tomei Expressway or the Odawara-Atsugi Road and following the signs to Hakone. However, please note that parking is limited, as the road can get crowded.
Driving may take about 2 hours from Tokyo or 30 minutes from Odawara.
Take a bus from Odawara Station, Hakone-Yumoto Station, or Kowakidani Station to Owakudani Station.
The bus ride may take about an hour from Odawara or 40 minutes from Hakone-Yumoto. It costs about 1000 yen one way.
Join a guided tour that includes Owakudani as one of the destinations.
The tour may also cover other attractions in Hakone, such as Lake Ashinoko, Hakone Shrine, and Hakone Museum of Art.
The tour may include transportation, admission fees, lunch, and an English-speaking guide.
It may cost about 10,000 yen per person and last 8 hours.
You can take the Hakone Ropeway from Sounzan Station or Togendai Station to Owakudani Station.
The ropeway is a cable car that glides over the valley and gives you a bird’s eye view of the volcanic activity below.
You can also see the Owakudani nature trail, which leads you to some of the most interesting spots in the area.
The ropeway ride may take about 10 minutes from Sounzan or Togendai and costs about 1,000 yen one way.
Tips: You can get Hakone Freepass which includes unlimited rides on transportation systems, such as Hakone Tozan Line and Hakone Ropeway.
Owakudani Tickets & opening hours
Owakudani is a place you can visit for free, as there is no admission fee to enter the valley or the hot springs site. However, you will have to pay for some special activities.
Here are some of the costs and hours that you should know:
The Hakone Ropeway is the most popular and scenic way to get to Owakudani from Sounzan Station or Togendai Station.
The ropeway ride costs 1,000 yen one way or 1,840 yen round trip. It operates from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.
Still, it may be closed or delayed due to weather or volcanic activity. You can check the latest information on the Hakone Ropeway website.
Note: Get Hakone Freepass for unlimited rides on Hakone Ropeway.
Owakudani nature trail:
This short walking trail leads you to some of the most interesting spots in the area.
The trail requires advance reservations and a fee of 500 yen per person. It is open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily but may be closed due to volcanic activity.
You can make online reservations on the Hakone website.
The Owakudani eggs are a famous snack that is boiled in the hot springs and turned black. They are said to extend your life by seven years if you eat one.
You can buy them at the shops near the ropeway station or the hot springs site for 500 yen for five eggs.
Daily, they sell eggs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If there is any issue with the weather or volcano, you will, unfortunately, cannot buy.
Owakudani parking lot:
If you drive by car, park at the Owakudani parking lot near the ropeway station.
The parking fee is 530 yen for regular cars or 1,580 yen for large cars.
Operating hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. However, it may be closed due to weather or volcanic activity.
Best things to do in Owakudani
Owakudani is a place that will delight you with its variety and charm. You will never run out of things to do in Owakudani!
Here are some of my suggestions:
1. Take the Hakone Ropeway and enjoy the panoramic view of the valley and the surrounding nature. If you’re lucky, you’ll see Mount Fuji on clear days.
2. Walk the Owakudani nature trail and get close to the steaming vents and bubbling pools. You’ll also see some monuments and statues related to the history and legend of Owakudani.
3. Try the Owakudani eggs or black eggs, which are boiled in the hot springs and turn black. They are said to extend your life by seven years if you eat one.
4. Visit the Owakudani Kurotamago-kan, a museum showcasing the black eggs’ history and legend. You can also buy souvenirs and snacks related to the eggs.
5. Relax in the Owakudani hot springs or onsen while enjoying the views of the valley and the mountains. You can soak in the mineral-rich water that is said to have healing properties for your skin and health.
6. Explore nearby attractions such as Lake Ashinoko, Hakone Shrine, and Hakone Museum of Art. You can take a boat across the lake, visit a sacred shrine, or admire some artwork.
The weather in Owakudani can vary greatly depending on the season, time of day, and volcanic activity.
If you prepare well for each season, you will have a memorable and enjoyable visit!
Here are what the 4 seasons are like in Owakudani:
- Spring: A beautiful time to visit Owakudani. However, spring can also be rainy and foggy. You should bring an umbrella and a jacket to cope with the changing weather.
- Summer: Hot and humid. Sometimes, summer can be clear and sunny, offering a stunning view of Mount Fuji and the surrounding nature. If you visit Owakudani this season, wear light, breathable clothing to stay cool.
- Autumn: The temperature is cool and comfortable. You should bring a hat, gloves, scarf, and sunglasses.
- Winter: Cold and snowy. You will see the snow covering the ground and the mountains in the valley and around Hakone. The temperature can drop below 0°C on some days, so wear warm and waterproof clothing to keep yourself warm and dry.
When is the best time to visit Owakudani volcanic valley?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as Owakudani volcanic valley offers something every season.
Here are some of the pros and cons of Owakudani volcanic valley in different seasons:
It’s a great time to visit Owakudani if you love flowers and nature.
You can see the cherry blossoms and other flowers blooming in the valley and around Hakone. You can also enjoy the mild and pleasant weather, which is ideal for hiking and sightseeing.
However, spring can also be rainy and foggy, affecting visibility and comfort. You may also encounter crowds of tourists during the peak season of late March to early May.
Perfect time to visit Owakudani to see Mount Fuji and the clear blue sky.
You’ll get a stunning view of the iconic mountain and the surrounding nature from the ropeway or the nature trail.
You can also experience the heat and steam from the ground, which adds to the atmosphere of the volcanic valley.
However, summer can also be hot and humid. This may make you feel uncomfortable and thirsty. You may also have to deal with typhoons and storms, which may cause closures or delays.
This is a wonderful time to visit Owakudani if you love colors and scenery.
The leaves change from green to red, yellow, and orange in the valley and around Hakone.
You can also enjoy the cool and comfortable weather, perfect for hiking and sightseeing.
However, autumn can also be windy and stormy, affecting visibility and comfort. You may also encounter crowds of tourists during the peak season of late October to early November.
It definitely is a magical time to visit Owakudani if you love snow and contrast.
You can see the snow covering the ground and the mountains in the valley and around Hakone. Relaxing in the onsen and enjoying black eggs is also wonderful!
However, winter is usually very cold and snowy, so you may encounter closures or delays due to snow or ice.
How much time to spend at Owakudani?
Owakudani is a place that will captivate you with its volcanic activity and scenic views.
However, you don’t need much time there to enjoy its attractions. In fact, you can have a satisfying visit in about an hour.
What to pack for Owakudani volcanic valley?
Owakudani volcanic valley is a place that will reward you with its wonders if you pack well and plan ahead.
My suggestions on what you should pack for Owakudani volcanic valley:
- Clothing: Pack layers of clothing to adjust according to the temperature and the wind.
- Shoes: Wear comfortable shoes that can handle rocky and slippery terrain. Avoid wearing sandals or heels, which may cause injuries or discomfort.
- Water and snacks: Pack enough water to keep yourself hydrated and energized.
- Umbrella and jacket
- Camera and binoculars: This is to capture the amazing views and sights. You should also bring extra batteries or chargers.
What to eat in Owakudani
Here are some of the food and drinks that you should try in Owakudani:
Owakudani eggs or black eggs:
Black eggs are the most famous food in Owakudani. They are boiled in the hot springs and turn black because of the sulfur and iron in the water.
This spicy curry is served with rice and black eggs. It’s made with beef, vegetables, and spices and has a rich and flavorful taste.
The black eggs add a unique texture and color to the dish. You can eat this curry at the Owakudani Dining Hall, which also offers other dishes such as noodles, rice bowls, and desserts.
This tea is made with water from Owakudani, which has a high pH level and a mild taste.
The tea is said to have detoxifying effects and to improve your metabolism. You can drink this tea at some shops or restaurants in Owakudani.
Other tips for visiting Owakudani volcanic valley
By now, I have shared almost all you need to know about visiting Owakudani Volcanic Valley Hakone.
This area is a place that will amaze you with its wonders but also challenges you with its conditions. I would like to share some tips to help you enjoy your visit.
- Be careful of the volcanic gases: Avoid inhaling too much sulfur gas and stay on the designated paths and areas. If you have asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, pacemaker, or pregnancy, you should consult your doctor before visiting Owakudani.
- Bring a mask and a towel to protect yourself from the rain, snow, fog, and gas.
How long does it take to hike to Owakudani volcanic valley?
It depends on which hiking trail you choose and how fast you walk.
Two main hiking trails lead to Owakudani: one from Sounzan Station and one from Togendai Station.
The trail from Sounzan Station is about 7.2 kilometers long and takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete. The other trail is only 4.5 kilometers long and takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Both trails are steep and rocky, so wear proper hiking shoes and bring water and snacks.
Is Owakudani volcanic valley free?
Yes, Owakudani volcanic valley is free to enter and explore. However, you must pay for some transportation and activities in the area.
Is Owakudani safe?
Owakudani is generally safe to visit, but you should know some of the risks and precautions involved. Owakudani is an active volcanic zone where sulfurous fumes, hot springs, and hot rivers can be experienced. These gases can irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.