Mount Sakurajima – a fierce yet awe-inspiring volcano that is separated from the city of Kagoshima by a small stretch of water. It erupts almost every day, but the people of Kagoshima pay it little heed – except to sweep away the accumulated ash around their homes.
I lived in Kagoshima for 18 months, but I never got tired of its beauty. And that’s a good thing because you really can’t go far in the city without finding a nice spot to view the volcanic mountain.
The volcano erupts on average several times a day – shooting huge ash clouds into the sky. This makes it Japan’s most active volcano. However, daily eruptions are not a bad omen for the people of Kagoshima. It’s when the volcano goes a long time without erupting that there is a potential for real danger.
A Cheap Day Out
On the island itself, there are a few small towns. This means there are always at least a couple of thousand of residents on the island. Many of them undergo evacuation training each year (I’ve taken part a couple of times, too).
For around 200 yen ($2), you can ride a ferry to the island. There are a few shops, a place to rent bicycles, and event a lookout point 373 metres up the volcano. While it’s much easier to catch the bus up the steep hills that lead to the lookout, we decided to walk (our legs hurt for the next couple of days).
A Deadly History
Every few years, the volcano will have a particularly large eruption that showers Kagoshima in several inches of ash all at once. One of the worst recorded eruptions was in 1914, when so much lava erupted from the volcano that the lava swallowed several small islands and connected the volcano to the main island of Kyushu. Many scientists expect another large eruption to occur within the next 30 years.
Would you consider living in a city so close to a volcano? Or is the threat of a potential earthquake already too much for you to handle?
Kagoshima prefecture is located next to Kumamoto prefecture – an area that suffered a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake in 2016.
FUN FACT: Because Sakurajima erupts on a daily basis, the prefecture of Kagoshima has the highest number of earthquakes each year. The vast majority are caused by the volcano and are far too small to feel.