Be awed by storm clouds of volcanic steam that gather over the active volcano, Owakudani (大涌谷), the Great Boiling Valley. Created around 3,000 years ago, today the crater-valley is a popular tourist site, despite the ominous and evocative name. The volcanic valley is still alive today with active sulfur vents and hot springs. Once called the “Grand Inferno” or “Great Hell” thanks to the streams of white sulfuric smoke reaching toward the sky, it was renamed when the Meiji Emperor and Empress visited Hakone in 1873 because locals hesitated to invite the two to a place with such a foreboding name. Marvel from the Hakone Ropeway, 130 m above the valley bottom. Sulfur and water vapor pour out at about 100°C. The terrible landscape creates an image of hell that had even famed Japanese Buddhist monk, Kūkai, offer a prayer to Bodhisattva at the sight. At sunset, the sunlight from Lake Ashi glitters off the waters to offer a beautiful sight one might not expect next to the nightmarish landscape. While here, be sure to try the legendary kuro-tamago—hot spring hard-boiled eggs with shells turned black by the iron sulfide in the volcanic waters—these treats are only available at Owakudani. Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. At the top of the observation deck overlooking Owakudani you might even spot the majestic Mount Fuji on a fine day, this being one of the best spots to see it from. Access Owakudani by the Hakone Ropeway from Owakudani Station, or by bus. Although it is advised that people with asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, pacemakers, and pregnant women not enter the valley due to high volcanic activity. The volcanic gas concentration and temperature are constantly measured at the Hakone Ropeway stations to ensure the safety of guests and the site may be temporarily closed due to high levels of gas or volcanic activity. Volcanic alerts were lifted on Friday Nov 15th 2019, ending a six-month closure that saw most parts of the Owakudani area temporarily closed to access due to an increase in volcanic gases. The area is now safe to access, though it is advised that those with respiratory problems, heart conditions, pregnant women or young children do not enter the valley due to slight risk from volcanic fumes.