Hakone Ropeway takes visitors from the top of Gora through the hell valley at Owakudani, and down to the beautiful and tranquil Lake Ashinoko. Do not miss the opportunity to experience this unique ride, check out the steam vents, and try some longevity black eggs at Owakudani.
There are many activities to do in Hakone and one of the most popular is riding Hakone Ropeway and take in the view high above Owakudani Hell Valley in the gondola. Our family has ridden the Hakone Ropeway a few times and it’s always fun and exciting. Ready to check out the hell valley with steaming vents? Let’s go!
What is Hakone Ropeway
Hakone Rope starts at Sounzan Station (早雲山駅) at the top of Gora, stops at Owakudani Station (大涌谷駅), Ubako Station (姥子駅), and ends at Togendai Station (桃源台駅) near Lake Ashinoko (芦ノ湖) or vice versa the other direction. You can buy either a one way or round trip ticket, and get on and off at any of the stops that your ticket covers.
Hakone Ropeway is included as part of Hakone Freepass so do not miss the opportunity to ride the gondola if you have purchased the pass. The ropeway is sometimes closed due to volcanic activities so do check the status before making your plan.
Sounzan Station 早雲山駅
Our ryokan (Japanese inn) was right next to Sounzan Station so that was the start of our latest journey to Owakudani. There are 36 parking spots available for cars at the Sounzan Station in case you needed to drive there.
Before boarding, there are signs warning visitors with breathing problems due to the volcanic gas that is present on parts of the ride. Do take precautions if there is anyone that you’re traveling with that might experience difficulty.
Each gondola is quite spacious and they can hold up to 18 people. The gondolas are also wheelchair friendly.
As the gondola starts climbing, you can see Gora down below.
Owakudani Station 大涌谷駅
The main attraction of the Hakone Ropeway is Owakudani. Owakudani is known for steam vents and it’s desert-like landscape. Another must-try experience at Owakudani is eating eggs cooked in sulfuric hot springs which turns them black.
On the way to Owakudani from Sounzan, you can see steam coming out from the ground and the pipes carrying hot springs to the hotels and resorts.
When you arrive at Owakudani, there’s the unmistaken smell of sulfur in the air. Looking around, you can see that Owakudani is the largest station on Hakone Ropeway with shops and restaurants for visitors.
Besides the ropeway station, there is also Owakudani Kurotamago Kan (black egg building), an observation deck, and a few smaller structures that house gift shops and restaurants.
So, besides checking out the steam vents and the incredible landscape, you have to try eating the black eggs cooked in hot springs. Folklore has it that each egg will add seven years to your life and good health. Warning: the eggs could smell pretty bad so our kids just pinch their nose while eating.
On a clear day, there’s a great view of Mt. Fuji from Owakudani.
Inside the gift shops, there other “black-themed” gift items you can purchase for gifts. Such as smoked black egg or black pickled vegetable, peanuts, etc.
Nature Research Path at Owakudani
Prior to the small volcanic eruption of 2015, visitors could walk up to Kurotamago-jaya shop and see the black eggs being cooked in hot springs.
Since 2015, construction started on safety shelters and redevelopment of the nature path and they were still not ready when we visited in 2018.
We were able to observe the egg cooking process on one of our previous visits. You can see workers lowering the entire crates of eggs in the boiling hot spring water. When the eggs are done cooking, they are pulled out and the white shell turned completely black from the sulfur.
After eating some black eggs and adding seven years to your life, head back to the ropeway station and head on to Ubako station.
Ubako station is the third stop and there is usually no reason to get off unless your hotel is nearby. During this portion of the ride, it is the best chance to see Mt. Fuji if it’s not hiding behind the clouds.
The last stop on the Hakone Rope is Togendai Station. As the gondola approaches the station, you can see lake Ashinoko just ahead on the left side and golf courses nearby.
Lake Ashinoko is one of the largest recreation areas in Hakone with plenty of activities to do and things to see. We’ll cover the many options at the lake in the next post.
Driving Tip: We usually drive when traveling around Hakone so typically we don’t ride the Hakone Ropeway the entire way. To enjoy the ropeway we would park at Sounzan Station and hop off at Owakudani. When we’re done, we would head back to Sounzan to pick up our car and then drive towards Lake Ashinoko for the rest of the day.
As always, thank you for reading our guide to Hakone Ropeway and Owakudani. We’ll see you soon at Lake Ashinoko post.