Smoking Black Eggs at the Hakone Volcano, Japan

By Abi King | Asia

Jul 29

Steam shoots out of the earth and the sound of furious bubbling travels through the air. Here, only a few hours from Tokyo, this fierce, smoking whirlpool is…well, unexpected.

It also smells disgusting.

Hakone Park first sprung up as series of volcanic eruptions around 3000 years ago. Today, it consists of triangular hills and deep blue lakes, wrapped in scarves of clouds. On the proverbial clear day, Hakone provides dazzling views of Mt Fuji, yet I had already gathered that today wasn’t going to be one of those days.

We took a cable car from Sōunzan, plunging into a grey vat of cloud before reaching the half-way point at Ōwakudani. By the look of the signposts, well-maintained paths and regular troops of tourists, I had low hopes of finding anything spectacular. Luckily, travel has the habit of proving me wrong – and this time it did it with fountains of smoke.

These hissing pits reach deep into the mountainside and leap high into the air. Their sulphuric properties turn eggshells black – and fill the air with a putrid, rotting stench. Still, if both appetite and wallet remain undeterred, you’ll find plenty of savvy locals selling black eggs by the bagful. Even Hello Kitty does her bit to help the black egg trade.

Perhaps to my relief, given all the noxious fumes floating around, black eggs taste exactly the same as the dull-coloured variety. Still, a smoking sulphur jet does overshadow a saucepan on the stove…


About the Author

Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on

ciki July 30, 2010

nice cable car shot abi! I love them eggs.a bit of a rip off but they taste good after that short climb eh? also, i was surprised that they did not taste as foul as the way the place smells.. like fart:P mwuahahaha

    Abi King July 30, 2010

    Yep, the eggs are a rip off! We shared with some other people who’d got a bit carried away and bought far more than they needed..:)

Shannon OD July 30, 2010

I haven’t been (yet) but you certainly did an amazing job making my nose scrunch up at the thought of those smells! Great piece and some great shots :-)

Amazing pics Abi. Love how they ‘blackened’ Hello Kitty.


Lori August 1, 2010

Wow – amazing photos and an interesting story! I enjoyed it :)

Abi King September 27, 2010

Thanks Shannon & Lori. David – I love how Hello Kitty is “adapted” all over Japan!

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