Sakurajima – visiting a volcano (Kyushu part two)

On one of the few sunny days of my Japan trip which was also my last day in Kagoshima,  I set my destination to Sakurajima, a former island with a highly active volcano in the middle of Kagoshima bay. I say former because although the name means cherry blossom island, it is actually a peninsula as of 1914, when lava from a giant erruption connected it to the mainland in the east. Sakurajima is accessible via a 15 minute ferry ride from Kagoshima. It has three peaks, and reportedly it is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, with several small eruptions per day. It looked pretty innocent during my time there though, as the only smoky things I witnessed were small white cloud formations passing over one of the craters (or maybe it actually was smoke? I have no idea). There were plenty of clues that the volcano is alive however, for example the  traces of ash everywhere, and a smell of soot in the air. I also noticed the school kids wore helmets when going home from school. Not sure if it is a generic Japanese precaution thing or to protect the kids from falling rocks and lava.

In retrospect I should have rented a car or bicycle to fully explore the island because things are pretty spread out. I chose instead to hang around the ferry terminal area, and to go with the island view tour bus. The tour included a stop at Yunohira observation point which was really close to the crater, and also a stop by the bizarre “Portrait of a scream” statue. In my mind though, the greatness of the volcano was better appreciated from a distance. For example, I enjoyed walking along the Nagisa Lava Trail, a walking trail near the ferry terminal, where you walk through the lava zone created by the giant eruption of 1914.

All photos were shot on Kodak Portra 800 film, which was developed and scanned by the excellent Canadian Film Lab.