Toyako and Usuzan

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(Sept 17) Toyako Onsen is located on the shore of Lake Toya, s beautiful caldera lake, at the foot of Mt Usu (Usuzan), one of Japan’s most active volcanoes.

Toyako Solar Panels

Last July’s G8 summit was held here, at a hotel whose isolated position on Mt Poromoi made it easy to keep out the riffraff.

Usuzan has erupted 9 times since 1633, and the eruptions seem, if anything, to be getting more frequent. The most recent were in 1910, 1943-45, 1977-78 and 2000. These eruptions gave enough warning to allow the town to be evacuated safely.

The eruptions do not come from a single cone. Each one comes out at a different location, which no doubt makes things even more exciting.

The 1910 eruption created the hot springs on which the town’s livelihood depends, so the people look on Usuzan with a certain fondness, no doubt mixed with trepidation. Signs refer to Usuzan as a “gentle mountain” which always gives warning. Personally I don’t think I’d want to live there.

In the 2000 eruption a wall of hot mud engulfed part of the town. Two of the original buildings have been left standing as a memorial.
Toyako Mudslide

A profusion of plants grows in the mud that wrecked the public bath.
Toyako Public Bath

Looking through the window of the bath, we can see that it is still filled with the dried mud.
Toyako Public Bath Interior

A highway bridge was swept down the mountain and deposited next to the bathhouse.
Toyako Mudslide Bridge

A piece of the bridge struck the corner of this apartment building.
Toyako Mudslide Apartment

New channels have been built in the hope of directing future mudslides away from the town.
Toyako Mudslide Channel

The caretaker seems to have time on his hands.
Youkoso Touyako

The rocks and plants spell out “youkoso touyako” (Welcome to Toyako.)

Somebody likes American cars.
American Car

Steam rises from the Showashinzan, which appeared in a farmer’s wheatfield on December 31, 1943, and grew to 398 m over the next 2 years.
Showa Shinzan

The Usuzan Ropeway will carry you up the side of Mt Usu.
Usuzan Ropeway

The view from the top: Lake Toya and Showashinzan.
Lake Toya and Showa Shinzan

Usuzan Steam Vent

Ginnuma Daikakou, the largest crater on the mountain, was created in the 1977 eruption.
Ginnuma Daikakou

Ginnuma Daikakou Closeup

Monument to Masao Mimatsu, a local postmaster whose meticulous observations of the growth of Showashinzan were considered a great contribution to vulcanology.
Masao Mimatsu

Mimatsu Statue and Showa Shinzan

All posts from this trip.

1 thought on “Toyako and Usuzan

  1. B. Tappan

    Very reminiscent of Hawaii Volcanic Park. You should visit the Big Island some time. We have stayed at the hostel owned by a Japanese-Hawaiian at Volcano Village when visiting the park.

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