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PLANETSKI GOES HIKING IN VOLCANO COUNTRY - James Cove, Hokkaido, Japan
Thursday September 26, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

We're in the mountains of Hokkaido in Japan. The snow is yet to fall so time to put the hiking boots on. NEW

 

 

 

 

Lord knows how many different cable cars I have ridden over the years.

Probably well over a hundred, possibly more.

In fact, undoubtedly more.

But this is my first cable car ride in Asia.

Hokkaido, JapanHokkaido, Japan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I've never taken a cable car, or ropeway as they call it in this part of the world, to hike to the crater of an active volcano.

Mt Usu filled that gap in my mountain experiences.

It was worth the ride just for the views across Lake Toya from the top of the station.

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I had come for more than the tourist views.

Stunning though they were.

Hokkaido, JapanHokkaido, Japan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was off to hike to a volcano crater.

First it was down a steep wooden staircase that went on forever.

The only thought in my mind was that in a few hours I would be huffing and puffing my way back up it.

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next it was a stroll along a gentle footpath that could have been on the South Downs Way in Sussex.

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only in Sussex you don't get views to one side over a Japanese bay that leads into the Pacific Ocean.

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or volcano craters on the other.

Volcano craters to the rightVolcano craters to the right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With some smoke and steam being released.

Hiking in Japan's glacier countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or views ahead like this to Mt Yotei in the distance.

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mt Usu last erupted in 2000.

 

It has erupted nine times since 1663 and four times since 1910.

The 1997 eruption was one of the largest and changed the shape of the mountain.

The older, taller Mt Usu has stood for 20,000 years.

There are 110 active volcanoes in Japan.

Of those around 50 are watched especially closely because they have erupted recently or shown worrying signs, such as seismic activity, ground deformation or emission of large amounts of smoke.

 

Active volcanos in JapanActive volcanos in Japan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mt Showa-Shinzan emerged from a farm field only recently, in 1943.

Its name means "new mountain," and it is active to this day.

These two volcanos are some of the most active in Japan, with eruptions every 30-50 years.

Now, though, it looks rather benign.

Thankfully.

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country <

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though there are hard hats on hand at the edge of the crater should things suddenly change.

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now when skiing I often, er, liberate, food from the hotel breakfast table if I know I'm going hiking into the backcountry or it's going to be a powder day.

I did the same today.

Though instead of a ham or cheese roll and a crushed up croissant I had something for my mountain picnic all the more appetising.

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And another first - a picnic with chopsticks:

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was time to head back - along the South Downs Way.

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And as I walked back up the aforementioned stairs at the end of my hike I counted 589 steps and it took me just shy of 20-minutes.

Hiking in Japan's volcano countryHiking in Japan's volcano country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wonder what time I would have made it in if the smoking had turned into something more threatening....

RELATED STORIES FROM JAPAN:

Mastering the metro in Tokyo was a challenge like no other:

The Rugby World Cup in Sapporo as England played Tonga:

And then some summer visits to ski resorts.

First up it's Niseko, just a couple of hours from Sapporo:

And the next ski resort we're visiting is Furano, so do check back as our blog from Japan rolls on....

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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