The Enigma of Owakudani’s Black Eggs That Extend Life

The black eggs of Owakudani, located 80 kilometers from Tokyo, have become a lucrative business for locals. The attraction to consuming these eggs is associated with the longevity power of Jizō, one of Japan’s most beloved deities.

According to information from Spanish media La Vanguardia, black eggs are regular chicken and taste like a normal hard-boiled egg, but what sets them apart is their cuisine, as they bathe in the volcanic waters of the Owakudani Valley.

A giant black egg is located at the entrance to Owakudani, Tokyo. Photo: Facebook

Workers equipped with gloves and protective shoes plunge several dozen of them into a sort of cage until the shells take on their characteristic dark color. They are then sold five at a time, in paper sleeves.

Every year, millions of Japanese visit the place with the aim of devouring one black egg after another, as, according to legend, each of them gives them seven years to live.

Black eggs are chicken and taste like a normal hard-boiled egg. Photo: Facebook

Owakudani, which means Great Boiling Valley, was given this name in 1873, after the visit of Emperor Mutsuhito and Empress Shōken. It was previously known as Jigokudani, the Valley of Hell.

According to La Vanguardia, the place was born around 3,000 years ago, during the last eruption of the Hakone volcano and is characterized by its fumaroles, geysers and steaming ponds. Its sulfuric fumes cause an odor very similar to that of rotten eggs.

The workers immerse the eggs in a sort of cage until the shells acquire their dark color. Photo: Facebook

The valley is not only visited for the black eggs but also for its onsen (traditional thermal baths) and its excursions. Plus, on a clear day you can see the incomparable profile of Mount Fuji.

Another attraction is Lake Ashi, which sits in a crater and along its shore are many fountains, temples, and ryokans (traditional dwellings).

A divinity with various uses

The Spanish media point out that the Japanese have statues of Jizō in virtually every city. This bodhisattva (someone who, having reached the threshold of nirvana, delays his final enlightenment as a Buddha to help others follow his same path) embodies optimism, compassion and universal salvation.

From the valley, you can see the profile of Mount Fuji. Photo: Facebook

According to belief, his power is not only to prolong life, but he is invoked in countless situations such as to have a good birth, against toothaches, as a guardian of fishermen, boss of firefighters, advocate of children and old women, protectors on the battlefield and in the realm of hell.

Jizō is generally characterized as a Buddhist monk who wears a shaved head and wears monastic robes, without adornments. His statues often appear with bibs, scarves or red hats.