Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Great balls of fire

Sakurajima (literally "Cherry blossom island") is just off the coast of Kagoshima on Japan's south-western island of Kyuushu. It has a population of around 7,000 and is famous for both its (extremely large) radish and (extremely small) mandarins.... oh, and the active volcano that dominates the skyline by the same name.

Sakurajima is somewhat of a misnomer since it now sits on a peninsula due to the erupted lava flow in 1914 bridging the gap to the mainland and Kagoshima. Since 1955, minor eruptions have become frequent, regularly dousing the island and city in volcanic ash. Last year there were around 80 eruptions. So far in 2009, there have been over 380 ... and oddly everyone seems ok with this....

Regular evacuation drills are performed in the event of a serious eruption and there are shelters scattered around that resemble concrete cylinders where people can hide from falling debris. That aside, this ain't where I'm planning my retirement home. Still, a visit to the observation station half way up is fair game. The volcano was coughing smoke when we arrived, suggesting recent activity and it erupted again while we were there. I caught a nifty video of the action in case anyone thinks I totally photo-shopped the above print.

I am considering distributing the fictional account of the city of Pompeii to the locals.

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