Japan Photo Drift: Hokkaido (Gallery Two)

Hokkaido

Pictures of Summer in Biei, Hokkaido

Although I developed, so to speak, a passion for photography during the four years I lived on Japan’s rural, northernmost island of Hokkaido — island light! — I don’t have digital copies of those first pictures.

These pictures are from a summer trip R. and I took to the Biei area of central Hokkaido in 2012. Although I didn’t really appreciate it then — I was alone, my girlfriend being in Tokyo — the Biei area is very photogenic. Cigarette commercials and TV dramas like to use the patchwork fields and dramatic treelines as their settings.

By the way, the volcano pictures are from an aborted climb up Asahidake, in Daisetsuzan National Park.

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Japan’s Active Volcanoes: Asahidake

Asahidake

The highest volcano on Hokkaido

At 2,291 meters, Asahidake in Daisetsuzan National Park is the highest mountain on Hokkaido – Japan’s northernmost island. It is actually an active volcano.

I climbed on and around Asahidake several times in the four years I spent on Hokkaido. But that was a while ago now: as in, before I got my first digital camera (for the record, a Sony DSC-R1, bought in 2007).

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Volcanoes of Japan

View from Fujisan
View from Fujisan

Climbing Japan’s Active Volcanoes

Many people know already that mountains make up 72% of Japan’s landmass. It’s one reason we all live together in such crowded cities!

Less well known is the fact that 110 of those mountains are actually active volcanoes, including Mount Fujisan, the highest peak in Japan. Wikipedia offers a complete list of volcanoes in Japan on their webpage, appropriately named “List of volcanoes in Japan.” Turns out I’ve climbed a few of ’em in addition to Mount Fuji: Asahidake, Meakandake, Rishiridake, and, not on Wikipedia’s list but on the JMA’s, Tokachidake (I did a lot of climbing when I lived on Hokkaido). Also Oshimadake on Oshima-jima Island and Hakonedake in Hakone, near Fujisan.

Apparently, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) maintains a “watch list” of 47 of the most active volcanoes, monitored 24 hours a day. Again, that includes Fujisan.

So what’s it like to climb on an active volcano?

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