Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sakurajima / Active Volcano / Hot Spring Wonderland

Add Sakurajima (桜島, Cherry Island) to your list of Japanese locations to visit. One of the thirty-or-so hot springs that have made my list of the top ten hot springs is on Sakurajima. (Keeping a list of the ten best hot springs in Japan is impossible. Japan has too many.) Sakurajima was an island of Kagoshima Prefecture. In 1914, a huge eruption and massive lava flow created a land bridge to that island, forming a tiny peninsula. The volcano is still active, assuring a steady supply of hot spring water for gorgeous onsens with ocean views, fertile soil for growing the world's largest daikons (larger than soccer balls), and volcano alerts to keep you on your toes.

Beautiful Woman Experiencing Peace in Hot Spring

Some hot springs have connections with ancient religious practices. The Furusato Kanko Hotel on the island of Sakurajima, Kagoshima, has a shrine with a hot spring on the premises.  Males and females bathe together, but nudity is forbidden. All bathers must wear special white cotton robes, or yukata. White signifies purity in the Shinto religionAt the base of a cliff is a tree of great age, and hot water gushes out from between its vast roots. In front of the tree is a red torii, or shrine gate. The edge of the bath is just meters from the clear blue sea of Kagoshima Bay. Fishing boats slowly pass by, birds fly overhead, and the entire experience purifies the soul and body. UPDATE: The hotel closed down. I will let you know when it reopens.
Couple Bathing in Holy Hot Spring
The volcano lives. Ash, rocks, and smoke often spew from the maw of the volcano. Pay attention to the locations of the emergency shelters that the government has built all over Sakurajima. The ash has positive points. The soil is so fertile that vegetables and fruits grown on the island are surprisingly large. Kagoshima reportedly has a higher per capita ownership of clothes dryers than anywhere else in Japan, which must please the manufacturers of clothes dryers. Of course, the cherry trees are also quite cheery.

Sakurajima Daikons are Larger than My Own Swollen Head

Much of Sakurajima is a national park. There is a tremendous amount of open space in the mountains and along the coasts. On one visit to Sakurajima, camping/bathing buddies and I drove to various lovely locations and camped free. Fishing, swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking are some of the many fun activities for you to enjoy.

Click to see a live cam of Sakurajima.

This link will lead to a map showing the hotel where the photographs of the hot spring were taken.

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