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After so many posts about Venice and art, we will now turn to Japan where we spent our two-week winter vacation in February 2016.

First, we are very sorry for the people of Kyushu, especially in the area around Mount Aso and Kumamoto who endured the earthquakes in April 2016 that caused deaths and a lot of damages. We hope the people, towns and villages in the area escaped without much loss.

The first two days of our vacation were spent in southern Kyushu near Kirishima and Kagoshima (which are about 2 hours drive from Kumamoto). We hired a taxi for the day and used it to tour a mountainous area and a shrine north of Kirishima, and then Kagoshima.

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Our driver does not speak English but he was super-nice. He showed us the roadside hot springs, deers and took us to eat freshly hand-made soba noodles for lunch. The entire Kyushu is volcanic with hot springs everywhere, hence the onsen in our ryokan.

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Certain roads pass through open vents and the sulfurous fumes are thick and choking.

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Our destination is a small crater lake – Lake Fudoike不動池 (which means literally “immobile pond”) next to Mount Io 硫黄山 (which means “sulfur mountain”).

That’s what the lake looks like on the ground (sorry about the size of the panoramas).

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View downhill behind the lake.

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The lake, 200 m in diameter, was partly frozen.

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Pretty to look at …  but apparently the water is very acidic …. pH4.5.

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While the driver took IT and Sue to use the restroom and buy snacks down the hill, they left me behind so that I can walk further up the hill.

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I did not see any of the volcanic ash and lava, as the lava flow is on the other side and at a higher altitude. The map above shows the direction of the lava flow which appears as waves.

There must be a geological reason for the flatness of this mountain top.

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I saw a few trees like this, the wind must be strong and persistent year round. The environment is harsh as there are very few trees.

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Multi-language sign about the lake which is a part of the Kirishima Geopark. It is so tourist-friendly.

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The Geopark contains 20 small volcanos that have been active from hundreds of 1000’s years ago to recent times.

Can you imagine how it would have felt hiking there and encountering an earthquake ?

The local people are tough and prepared and we are confident they will recover and rebuild swiftly.

 

 

 

 

 

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