Located 80 km West of Tokyo in Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Hakone is a popular tourist destination for Japanese and foreigners (gaijin) alike.
The area boasts natural beauty, a volcanic crater lake, hot springs (onsen), museums, galleries and the area known as Owakudani or the Great Boiling Valley.
Accessible via ropeway (cable car) or hiking trail, Owakudani is an active volcanic zone created 3000 years ago following the eruption of Mount Hakone. Active sulphur vents spew steam and fumes into the air giving the area an eerie, otherworldly feel compounded by its rocky, grey topography and minimal vegetation.
For a place that smells like rotten eggs, it’s curious that so many people visit the area to consume them but no visit to Owakudani would be complete without sampling Kuro Tamago, or Black Eggs.
Boiled in natural, heated spring water pools, the shells of these regular chicken’s eggs turn a matt black thanks to the sulphur content of the water. Sold in paper bags of 5 for around 500 Yen (roughly $5) the eggs are so popular that concrete tables are on-site so visitors can shell and eat them on the spot.
Once unshelled, Kuro Tamago are no different in taste or colour to a traditional hard boiled egg with one exception; legend says eating one egg can add 7 years to your life.
Which doesn’t mean you can scarf the whole bag for 35 more years of existence. According to a Japanese friend of mine, it’s bad luck to eat more than two.
Then again, maybe she just said that so I didn’t eat the whole bag.