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).
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.
Ontakesan, Japan’s second-highest volcano, erupts in Nagano prefecture
Many hikers were on the slopes this weekend to view the koyo autumn leaves.
According to the news reports we saw on TV this morning, no-one was killed though several people were injured. Rescue workers were making their way up-slope even as some stranded hikers had started to make their own way down.
However, a more recent story from CNN reports that rescue workers have found 30 climbers “in cardia arrest” on the volcano, meaning they have no pulse but have not been declared dead by a doctor.
R. told me later in the day that hikers caught out couldn’t breath because of the gas, and that many started to write their wills.
Again according to those news reports, this may be the beginning of an active cycle for Ontakesan.
One of the best things about living in Nishi Tokyo is just how easy it is to get OUT of Nishi Tokyo when the mood strikes. Sure, Monday to Friday R. and I have longish commutes by, say, Toronto standards: one and a half hours each way to our jobs in The Big Sushi core, if I take the more leisurely walking route from the station to school. Still, by Tokyo standards, that ain’t bad. Not good, maybe, but not the tsukin jigoku commuting hell some riders apparently face on a daily basis.
Still, on the weekends, we can choose between a trip to the cinemas and museums in the city centre or, for about the same amount of travel time, in under an hour in some cases, we can be in the hills outside of town, communing with deer, bear, monkeys, and — if you happen to believe in such things — tengu and kappa.
Last weekend, the first with decent, sub-30 temps we’ve been free since coming back to the Big Sushi, we turned our backs on the usual commute and went west instead of east and enjoyed a day in the hills of Chichibu, in neighbouring Saitama prefecture.
A quartet of pictures from the summit of Mount Fuji. We climbed under a Harvest Moon, and arrives at the summit just as dawn broke over the countryside, and Tokyo in the distance. Couldn’t have timed it any better.
Travelogue, Little snail, slowly slowly climb Mount Fuji to follow.