Sakurajima. If you have the chance, go. It is Japan's most active volcano. OK, so maybe those statements don't go so well together. But it really is amazing. Sakurajima is just a 15 minute ferry ride away from Kagoshima. The whole city of Kagoshima kind of sits watching the activity of Sakurajima. Our Lonely Planet guide says that "'dustfall' brings out the umbrellas in Kagoshima as frequently as rainfall in other parts of the world."
We were lucky enough to see Sakurajima "belch" a couple of times, as Jeff lovingly referred to it. This is the first belch we saw. Stayed in the air a few minutes and then slowly drifted away.
Since 1955, Sakurajima has been belching and gurgling quite continuously. Its most violent explosion happened in 1914 when over three billion tonnes of lava poured out of the volcano, connecting it with a nearby peninsula. Small explosions occur every year.
No, you cannot hike to the top! There are various observation lookouts around the volcano, but you can't get within 2 km of the caldera. I certainly wouldn't want to.
What an ugly beast he is!
In this picture, you can see that he's steaming all over the place. That's part of the worry, really. When he blows, he might not necessarily blow from the top. It's a very real concern. To our surprise, many people live all around Sakurajima. The school kids all wear hard helmets when they walk to school, and there are concrete "explosion shelters" all along the streets. Some people have also built their own shelters by their homes.
This is another crazy tree Jeff likes. We found it near the visitor center. Jeff said it reminded him of the Lord of the Rings.
It was a lot of fun to spend a day driving around the volcano and stopping at all the observation spots. There were lots of interesting pathways along and through old lava fields. It was really wild... lots of crazy, rough, black rocks.
And finally, peaceful Kagoshima city, resting with it's half shut eyes ever on smoking Sakurajima...