Mt. Kirishima is a generic name for the volcanoes in the border of Kirishima City in Kagoshima Prefecture and Ebino City and Kobayashi City in Miyazaki Prefecture. It is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Mountains. It is presumed to be a post-caldera volcano formed in the southern rim of Kakuto caldera basin.
Mt. Kirishima is composed of many peaks including the highest peak of Karakuni-dake (1,700 m), Takachiho-no-mine, Naka-dake, Ohata-yama, and Ohachi. There are a lot of crater lakes such as Onami-ike, Ohata-ike, and Rokukannon-ike. The mountain area is a part of Kirishima- Yaku National Park. The communities of Kyushu azalea can be seen in the highlands.
Mt. Kirishima is the land of Japanese mythology concerning its creation. “Amano Sakahoko,” the three teeth fork-shaped weapon is staked upside down at the top of Mt. Takachiho-no-mine, which is believed to be where the Heavenly Descendant Ninigi no Mikoto descended from Takamagahara Field (Heavenly Hill Field).
Mt. Goshikidake is a volcano composing the Zao Mountain Range in the border of Yamagata Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture. It is 1,674 m above sea level. It is a post-caldera pyricrastic cone in the outer rim of the crator with a diameter of 2 km. At the center of the caldera lies a caldera lake known as Okama, one of the major attractions in Zao area.
The walking trail is set around Okama so that you can go round the lake, which changes colors from cobalt blue or emerald green to brown depending on the weather conditions.
As there is nothing to cut off the view, you can enjoy the scenery of the magnificent Zao Mountain Range covered with crimson foliage in fall. In winter, you can take a close look at snow monsters, which are trees frozen by winds and covered with snow. In any season, you will fully enjoy soaking yourself in the world filled with the wonder of nature.
Lake Mashu in Akan National Park in the eastern part of Hokkaido is a caldera lake formed by an eruption about 7,000 years ago. The lake is famous for its beautiful water, which is one of the clearest in the world, and the fog that envelopes its surface as is sung in a popular ballad “Misty Lake Mashu” of 1960s.
Of all the peaks that are forming the outer rim of this caldera, the highest one is Mt. Mashudake (858 m), also known as Kamuinupri (god’s mountain). Mt. Mashudake presents its imposing view right in front of the first observatory of Lake Mashu. The walking trail is built from the first observatory to the summit. Walking along the ridge of the outer rim, you will go under the tunnel of dense foliage and enjoy viewing pretty alpine plants as well as mirror-like surface of Lake Mashu, which repeatedly come into and go out of sight. As there is very often a thick fog on the surface of the lake, you may not be able to see it. If the fog is not very thick, you may have a chance to enjoy the mystic atmosphere of the lake with the mysterious island of Kamuisshu in its center.
Mt. Mokoto is located on the north side of Lake Kussharo、Japan’s largest caldera lake, in Akan National Park in the eastern part of Hokkaido. Most of the trail up the mountain is a gentle ridge way and you will get to the summit in only about one hour, enjoying a fine view on your way.
One of the attractions of this mountain is its bountiful nature. As there are many alpine plants, which you can’t see in the mountains lower than 2,000 m above sea level, if in Honshu, a lot of climbers find delight in viewing them blooming along the trail. You may have a chance to see Ezo squirrels, too.
However, the most attractive is the view from the top of the mountain. It commands a panoramic view of Lake Kussharo and its outer rim mountains including Mt. Samakkarinupuri.
Ladle the spring water “Ginrei-sui” at the starting point of the trail to relieve your thirst, and then walk up along the ridge, thinking of the exquisite view from the summit. You have no time to get tired.
Mt. Haruna (1,449 m) is an active volcano in Harunako-cho, Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture. Together with Mt. Akagi and Mt. Myogi, it is one of the Three Mountains in Jomo (present-day Gunma Prefecture). The volcano has a summit caldera, which contains over fifteen peaks including the symmetrical cone of Haruna-Fuji, along with a crater lake, Lake Haruna. Although it has been inactive for a long time, it eruppted many times from the 5th to the 6th centuries. At Kuroimine Ruins in Shibukawa City at the eastern foot of the mountain, the intact remains of dwellings in the late Kofun period (A.D. 300-700) were excavated under the 2 m deposition of volcanic ashes.
The mountain itself had long been worshipped as the deity that symborizes the town, and it has Haruna Shrine and Mizusawa Kannon Temple inside the mountain area. There also remain many legends and folk tales, which include the tales of the Giant Daidarabocch and the well that was dug by Kobodaishi. There are a lot of hot springs around the mountain including Ikaho Hot Springs.
Lake Kuttara located in a Special Zone of Shikotsu-Toya National Park is a caldera lake with an area of 4.68 sq m and a circumference of 8 km. As there are no rivers flowing into or out of this lake, it contains extremely high quality of water. It tops the list of the lakes and reservoirs in the water quality survey of public water areas conducted by the Ministry of Environment every year. It also boasts the second highest transperancy after Lake Mashu.
The aquaculture of Himemasu (sockeye salmon) has been practiced in this lake since 1909. You can rent a boat to enjoy Himemasu fishing as well as to have a relaxing time, viewing the surrounding thick virgin forest. With few facilities around it, the lake has a tranquil and mysterious atmosphere. If you are lucky, you may have a chance to see an Ezo red fox along the road from Noboribetsu Hot Springs to the western side of the lake.
Mt. Tarumae is a 1,041 metre active volcano located to the southeast of Lake Shikotsu, a part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park in Hokkaido. The name “Tarumae” derives from “taor-oma-i,” meaning “a hill on the riverbank” in the Ainu language.
It is a post-caldera volcano formed in the southeastern rim of Shikotsu Caldera by the major eruption about 40,000 years ago. It had erupted several times in the prehistoric periods. Several other eruptions occurred from the Edo through Meiji periods. It also had a minor eruption in 1981.
Mt. Tarumae is a three-staged complex volcano, which is rare worldwide. In 1909, a lava dome was formed to cover the volcanic cone in the center of the flat caldera with 1.2 km diameter in north-south direction and 1.5 km in east-west direction. This lava dome is designated as Hokkaido’s Special Natural Monument “Mt. Tarumae Lava Dome.”
Lake Shikotsu in Shikotsu-Toya National Park in Hokkaido is Japan’s second largest caldera lake with a circumference of 42 km. It was formed as the result of an volcanic eruption about 32,000 years ago. With the average water temperature of 3.6 degrees, it is Japan’s coldest ice-free lake. It is also one of the most transparent lakes in Japan and is the second deepest lake, after Lake Tazawa, with a maximum depth of 363 m, which is 115 deepr than the sea level. The lake is surrounded by the 1,000-meter-class mountains including Mt. Eniwadake, Mt. Fuppushidake and Mt. Tarumae.
Around the lake spread the deep green virgin forests of broad-leaved deciduous trees such as maple (Acer mono) and oak and conifer trees such as Jezo spruce. It is also a popular spot for bird watching. Wild birds such as great spotted woodpeckers and black woodpeckers can be seen.
In contrast to the bustle of the streets in Toyako hot spring town, here, everything is in the deep tranquility of the unexplored forests.