Since the disastrous Tohoku Earthquake in 2011, we keep hearing about the volatility of the Japanese earth, and the numerous, practically continuous earthquakes shaking the country. So far, however, there has not been an earthquake in Kyoto since I arrived, at least not one I could feel.

What is often forgotten is that the Japanese islands are of volcanic origin and there are many volcanoes around – the most famous one is Mount Fuji. There are 108 active volcanoes in Japan, where a volcano is defined as active by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) if it has erupted in the last 10.000 years. The JMA is monitoring around 30 of them 24/7, and one of them erupted yesterday.

image of sakurajima erupting in 2009
Sakurajima (2009), courtesy of Krypton (wikimedia commons)

It was Mount Sakurajima on the island with the same name, in the southern part of Kyushu, which spewed ash as high as 5000 metres. Sakurajima – Cherry Island – is a popular spot for tourists; in fact I was considering visiting it myself during last year’s trip to Japan, but I ended up touring Honshu instead. This volcano spits ash fairly often, and it seems that people are quite used to it. Nearby, there are several cities, Kagoshima being located just across the bay, and apparently Kagoshima city council simply advises people to carry an umbrella when ashes are falling again.

Actually, I find the news rather exciting, but this is from the safety of Kyoto. I would probably think differently if I lived there and had to regularly sweep ash from my doorstep.

Here are links to English Japanese newspapers covering the story:
Japan Today
Japan Times