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Mom in Japan!: Hakone

So, I never really did spend any time on the rest of my mom’s visit to Japan, so I guess this entry will be the first of a series of entries about her trip. I am sure I will throw other random entries in here and there as well. Before I get into that type of post though…

I mentioned previously that my elementary school was supposed to be having their sports festival this weekend. I then made a post about how Japanese make paper dolls that are supposed to help bring the weather that you want on a certain day. Well, the forecast for this weekend was rain, so I made one of those suckers. Guess what? Heavy on and off rains all weekend. This means that the sports festival was cancelled and moved to Tuesday. Thankfully, I work at the elementary school on Tuesday, so I can still participate in the events I was asked to be in and take lots of pictures and video, but I did not want my students to be disappointed. They were all so excited for it and moving it to a weekday I am sure makes it harder for parents to come and watch because of work. So, just like the song says, I snipped the head off my tissue teru teru bozu and gave the remains to my hamster. No sense in wasting perfectly good tissue.

Now back to the task at hand. After spending the day in Odaiba, we rode a very crowded train back to Kawagoe and got as much sleep as we could before 5 am the next morning when Jun’s family drove their van from their home in Tokyo to my apartment to pick us up. After dragging ourselves out of bed and into the car, it was time for a three hour drive to the town of Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture.

view of Ōwakudani
view of Ōwakudani

Our first stop was Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park which is a volcanically active popular tourist spot. More specifically we went to a place called Ōwakudani which translates to “The Great Boiling Valley.” Why boiling? Well, the entire area is a volcanic hot spot covered in sulfurous springs. It is here, and only here, that you can find the legendary black eggs (kuro-tamago (黒玉子)).

a black egg Hello Kitty statute
a black egg Hello Kitty statute

The eggs are actually cooked in the sulfur water on site, which is around 80C, and this causes a chemical reaction that turns the shells black. They look kind of freaky, probably because the only image I have of dark eggs are eggs that have gone bad, but they taste really good – especially with a little salt on top. There is also a legend (hence the legendary) that for every egg you get you gain seven years of life and all for $5 for five eggs. However, you cannot be greedy and eat all the eggs you want.

black eggs
black eggs

You may eat up to two and a half for up to seventeen and a half years, but eating a whole third is said to be highly unadvised (although other places say three). If you eat anymore, the number of years is set back to zero. Now, it is not mentioned anywhere as to whether or not this means in one sitting or in your entire life. The legend used to be printed on the bags that you receive your eggs in, but someone a few years ago said that the legend was all a lie, so it has since been removed. Talk about someone taking things too seriously.

this is where the black eggs are made
this is where the black eggs are made

Now, to get your eggs you have to climb up a mountain. Of course, you can get eggs that are sent down from the mountain, but that’s no fun. People say that the eggs at the top that come from the main source have stronger making-your-life-longer-powers or something like that. My mom could not walk the whole way up due to the combination of heat, humidity, and her legs, so Jun and I made the trip to the top to get eggs and take pictures. We also ate “egg ice cream” which tasted much like vanilla custard.

egg flavored ice cream
egg flavored ice cream

After spending time at Ōwakudani and eating our eggs we took the Hakone Ropeway from the top of the mountain down to Lake Ashi.

a view from the Hakone Ropeway
a view from the Hakone Ropeway

Lake Ashi is a crater lake that is known for its views of Mt. Fuji and has many boats – including boats that are replicas of pirate ships -to take tourists around the lake and to different spots on the lake. So, of course, we road one of the boats and then, being done with Hakone and totally exhausted, went to the hotel in Odawara and relaxed until it was time for dinner.

here is the pirate ship we road around the lake on
here is the pirate ship we road around the lake

Jun’s family knew that my mom liked udon (not sure that she likes it anymore after her two weeks here though), so they took us to a restaurant that they go to every time they are in the area. The place was run by a cute middle-aged couple and the food was absolutely delicious. After eating, we returned to the hotel and went to bed. The next day was going to be another early one because there was a local Samurai festival and parade in town.

So, that was day one. Keep your seatbelts fastened for the next installment!


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