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On our recent trip to Hakone, I found out about a local curiosity, its unique black eggs, and set out to find them.
My aim was to get to Owakudani, hike to the place where they are cooked, and get a photo of me eating one in front of one of the sulphur pools, but (as this post will explain), this is no longer possible without a tour, as the pathway to the pool has been closed since May 2015.
It is still possible to eat the black eggs (or kuro tamago as they’re known locally), bought from one of the shops, but to get to the place where they are boiled, you need to do your pre-work and book a tour.
In this post I have pulled together all the details you’ll need to hike to the black egg boiling location (which wasn’t easy, as many of the top Google results are incorrect, and the local tourist board have made the information hard to find), and then researched everything you need to know about this special local delicacy.
Hiking To The Black Eggs of Hakone – Route Closed
To be clear from the outset – you can no longer hike to the black egg boiling site at Owakudani WITHOUT pre-booking a tour through the local tourist website. This is confusing, as the top results on Google are out of date and seem to suggest it’s possible, however the route closed to day visitors in May 2015 and has not re-opened.
The photo below is as close as I got, there is now a gate closed across the pathway with notices on it.
I’d done my research in advance searching for ‘hiking to the black eggs of Hakone‘ and had read all the top results on Google, and got results such as the ones below. I naively turned up thinking I could do the hike myself, and was disappointed.
Unfortunately, I should have checked the date on these articles and done some more research.
Hopefully this post will rise to the top of the rankings and make it clearer for visitors in the future.
A Solution to Hiking To The Black Eggs – Book a Tour
I wish I’d known this before arriving at Owakudani, but this is not well advertised, and takes some advanced planning.
After getting home from Owakudani, I scanned the sign on the closed gate, and translated it. As you can see below, it suggested there was a tour available.
It still took a bit of detective work to find out more details:
I searched Google for ‘Owakudani Nature Trail’, it led me to this PDF which suggests there are four tours a day to hike to the black egg boiling pools.
I went to the website they suggested, and then did a search which led me to this page which gives information about the tour.
It then led me to this booking form, which is in Japanese, but looks like a form to book the hike!
Owakudani Nature Trail Tour Details
Here’s what I found out about the Owakudani Nature Trail tour, which allows you to hike to the black egg boiling pools:
They run four times daily at 1000, 1130, 1300 and 1430.
Cost is ¥500 per person, which needs to be paid in advance.
The tour lasts 40 minutes.
The walk is 1.4km in total and is steep.
Meeting point is the Owakudani Information Centre at the entrance to the Owakudani Geomuseum.
Tours are capped at 30 people and must be booked via this form.
Participants needs to wear a helmet, but these are provided.
So for clarity, if you want to hike to the black eggs of Owakudani, you MUST book in advance using this form. There are four hikes a day at 1000, 1130, 1300 and 1430, with more information available on the local tourist website and through this informative leaflet.
It’s hardly a surprise I made this mistake, with lots of incorrect information out there on the internet, and even when I did realise there was a tour, I still had to do three searches to find the information needed, and even then the form is only in Japanese – far more complicated than it needs to be!
Unfortunately, this meant I didn’t get to do the tour, but if you read this article in future and do the tour yourself, I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment at the bottom of this post.
Practical Tips For Visitors To Owakudani
Where Can I Find The Black Eggs?
The black eggs are found by the ropeway (cable car) station at Owakudani.
There is not a lot else around Owakudani – some tea houses, and a geothermic museum – so once there, the black eggs are impossible to miss. Walk out of the main cable car building, and down the steps and after about 100m you’ll see the statue and main black egg shop.
How Do I Get to Owakudani?
Owakudani is part of the famous tourist route around Hakone and Lake Ashi.
If you are coming from the hotels at the main town of Hakone, head for Gora Railway Station.
From here the route is:
Get cable car (mountain railway) to Sounzan
At Sounzan get on the ropeway (cablecar!) to Owakudani
After Owakudani the ropeway then goes on to Togendaiko where you can pick up the tourist pirate ship
If you want a full guide to the rope way and spending time in Hakone, read my two day Hakone itinerary.
How Much Do The Black Eggs Cost?
You can purchase warm black eggs in packs of four from the shop for ¥500.
They are not available individually.
About Hakone’s Black Eggs
What Makes the Eggs Black?
The black eggs of Hakone owe their distinctive colour to the natural geothermal activity of Owakudani.
The eggs are cooked for sixty minutes in a pond of hot spring water at approximately 80 degrees Celsius.
Iron properties (included in the hot spring water) cling to the porous shells when raw eggs are boiled in hot spring water. The colour of the eggs is a result of a reaction with hydrogen sulphide (black in colour), which produces boiled eggs with black shells. The blackened eggs are then transferred to a steam container, where they are steamed for fifteen minutes at approximately 100 degrees Celsius to complete the process.
This transformation, however, is only skin-deep; the interior of the eggs remains unaffected, preserving the familiar taste and texture of a hard-boiled egg.
The Folklore of Black Eggs
Eating a black egg is said to extend your lifespan for seven years!
According to legend, there is a jizo (guardian deity of children) located in Owakudani known as Enmei jizo son, who promotes longevity. This jizo used to be located close to the hot springs which boil the black eggs, so the eggs inherited its good luck.
The number seven is a lucky number, often associated with good fortune, so this, alongside the jizo deity is where the legend came from.
Are the Black Eggs Safe to Eat?
Well I ate three over two days, and I’m still here, so yes, they are.
They are just boiled eggs, done differently, with thousands being sold from the shop daily, so there is nothing to worry about here.
Do the Black Eggs Taste Different from Regular Eggs?
In my opinion, I couldn’t taste any difference to a regular egg.
I accidentally ate a bit of the black shell, and that had some acidic sharpness to it, but the egg itself didn’t taste any different to me.
According to a leaflet I picked up, the egg yolk is apparently 20% stronger in flavour, but I didn’t notice.
Can I Buy Black Eggs as Souvenirs?
Yes, you can, they have some that are packaged already cold.
Not only can you buy the black eggs as souvenirs, you can buy a whole host more!
There is an entire shop that is the black egg equivalent of the Disney store!
Black egg key rings, soft toys, face cream, soy sauce – anything you’ve ever wanted to be made out of a black egg (and many things you probably haven’t) are available here!
Before You Go
I have written extensively about Japan – so head over to our main Japan page for guides to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nikko, Hakone and much more.
AUTHOR – BEN REEVE
Reeves Roam, is a first-hand travel blog. The Reeves have lived in the UK, South Africa and Australia and have travelled extensively in Europe and Southeast Asia.
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Thanks – Ben, Becca and Gracie