Friday Foto: Owakudani

Hakone, Japan

We took a mini getaway to Hakone and decided to see it in a nutshell through its transportation system.  We jumped on the train at Miyanoshita Station (missing the switchbacks on the mountains, but seeing how packed the train was, we were fine with it), transferred onto a cable car at Gora Station, and then getting onto the gondola at Sounzan Station.  It wasn't until we rode on the gondola that we finally got some breathing room—apparently all of Japan decided to visit Hakone at the same time we did to admire the autumn beauty.  While we were on the ropeway, we crossed over Owakudani, "the Great Boiling Valley," which is a crater formed by a volcanic eruption at Mt. Kamiyama 3,000 years ago.  It actually used to be called Ojigoku, "Big Hell," until the emperor's visit in 1873 because they didn't think it was wise for him to visit a place with the word hell in it.  It was really cool to see the sulfur fumes emitting in the air from the gondola, and there are several hot springs and rivers around the valley; but we were really excited to ride the pirate ship with the kids, so we didn't stop to walk around.   Seen it.  Click.   Moving on.  Next time we'll take the hike and eat some kuro-tamago, black eggs, which are special, boiled eggs that have turned black due to the sulfur and iron content in the hot springs.  Eating one egg is supposed to increase your longevity by 7 years, and consumption of two eggs increases it by 14.  (Don't eat too much, though, apparently it's not good to eat 3 or more.)

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