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Five Ways to See Five Volcanoes in Kyushu


Japan has 110 active volcanoes scattered throughout the country, with the island of Kyushu being one of the most famous for its variety of volcanoes, from dormant cones to super active craters. Whether you’re looking for that picture-perfect shot of an erupting volcano, or simply curious about what goes on in one, here are some of the most dramatic volcanoes on the island. If you’re planning a visit, do check on the latest eruption status as most volcanoes on Kyushu are active.



Looking like a mountainous cone rising from the water, Sakurajima is one of the most picturesque volcanoes in Kyushu. Located in Kagoshima Bay, Minami-dake (one of three volcanoes that make up Sakurajima) is highly active, and is constantly spewing smoke.
See it: Admire the volcano from Kagoshima city across the bay, or take a ferry to Sakurajima and see Minami-dake from Yunohira Lookout, which is 1km away from Minami-dake.
Do: Dig your own footbath along the beach – the warm sand heats up the seawater – and soak in your private foot spa overlooking the bay.



Mt. Aso

Located near the city of Kumamoto, the volcanic crater is so massive, entire towns are located within it. Also known as Aso-san, it’s made of 5 volcanic peaks including Mt. Nakadake – an active volcano that’s also constantly spewing with smoke. Inside this active volcano is a marvelous turquois-blue crater lake.
See it: There are hiking trails and also a ropeway that took visitors all the way up to the crater. Unfortunately, the recent eruption damaged the upper ropeway station and there’s currently a 1km no-go zone around the crater.
Do: Opt for a helicopter flight over the crater – you can see the turquoise crater lake and billowing ash plume.



Mt. Tsurumi

Located near the hotspring town of Beppu, Mt. Tsurumi is a lava dome that’s now a park covered by a network of walking paths that lead to various viewpoints and pilgrimage sites where numerous deities are enshrined. The mountain is also famous for its flowers (cherry blossoms and azaleas) and its fall foliage, when the entire mountain is carpeted in various shades of red.
See it: A cable car gets you up there in 10 minutes (there’s also a hiking trail).
Do: Visit all the small shrines and pilgrimage sites on the mountain, and take in the view from various viewpoints.




While not exactly a ‘volcano’, this volcanic hill is a perfectly-formed cone located on the northern slopes of Nakadake. Part of the grassy Kusasenri plain, it’s carpeted in green grass in summer and the vicinity is populated by grazing cows and horses since the area is a working farm.
See it: It’s easy to see this hill from the main road along Kusasenri.
Do: Horse-riding is a popular activity in the area, where you can do short trips or multi-day excursions.




Thanks to its perfect cone shape, Kaimondake is known as “Satsuma Fuji” for its resemblance to Mt. Fuji. Dominating the scenery on the southern tip of Satsuma Peninsula, it’s considered a dormant volcano. From the top, you can see across Kinko Bay, Lake Ikeda, and even Yakushima on a clear day.
See it: You can see it from Lake Ikeda or anywhere on the Satsuma Peninsula
Do: You can hike to the summit (4-5 hours return) for gorgeous views of the lake and bay



Making headlines recently for its dramatic eruption which spewed smoke up to 7km in the air, the highly active Shinmoedake is located within the Kirishima volcano group. A 4km no-go zone has been in effect from March 10, with authorities cautioning about broken windows (due to vibrations) and rocks hurled from the crater. Meanwhile, thick volcanic ash can be seen blanketing nearby towns like Kirishima City. While it’s not advisable to visit now, check out the mighty eruption:

However, once the eruption dies down, you can visit Kirishima Geopark and explore the group of mountains including Mt. Karakunidake (1,700m) and Mt. Takachiho-no-mine (1,574m). In addition to plenty of volcanoes, it’s also dotted with pretty crater lakes like Onamiike which is famous for its aqua blue colour and fall foliage. Shinmoedake made headlines in 1967 as the location for the James Bond’s film “You Only Live Twice” involving the infiltration of a secret lair concealed deep within it.
See it: Head to Ebino Kogen (part of Kirishima Geopark) to access the Kirishima volcano group up close
Do: Hiking trails criss-cross the park, and you can explore them on trails lasting from 30 minutes to 6 hours.

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