History of Sakurajima
Sakurajima is an active volcano and former island (now united) of Japan located in the south of the island of Kyūshū, in Kagoshima Prefecture.
The volcanic island was created about 26,000 years ago after the big eruption which happened about 29,000 years ago. This eruption made a big caldera. Since then, it has kept eruption until today.
It was an island located in the part of Kagoshima Bay known as Kinko’s Bay for more than 25,000 years. In Japanese “shima” or “jima” means island. The Sakurajima literally means “The Cherry Island”. But in 1914, due to a large eruption, the huge amount of lava it released solidified and linked the island to the peninsula of Ōsumi. Before the eruption, the population of the island was over 20,000, but after the eruption, more than half of the population left the island. Then the population has gradually decreased and now only about 5,000 people live there.
Sakurajima has several peaks. Kitadake, Nakadake and Minamidake are over 1000 meters. And there are many lower peaks. Its highest point is Kitadake (the North point) which is 1117 meters above sea level. There is a crater which has about 500 meters diameter. When it rains, it sometimes keeps water in the crater and it looks like a pond.
The surface of the volcanic peninsula is about 77 km2 with the diameter of 12 km from the north to the south, 10 km from the east to the west.
Volcanic activity and local life now
The volcanic activity still continues, still emitting large flows of volcanic ash. The activity sometimes gets strong and the the people, not only on the island but even in the capital city Kagoshima-shi, have to deal with the falling ashes. The surface of the cars, houses, roads get dirty. Many houses don’t have rain gutters because the ashes may pile in it.
There is no vegetation above 600 meters. There are pampas grasses below that. There are pines, cedars, cypresses and some other trees on the mountain foot. It is not easy to grow vegetables, but there are some famous agricultural products from the island. One if Sakurajima-Daikon which is the biggest radhish in the world and the other one is mandarin orange called Sakurajima-Komikan which is the smallest orange in the world.
They use the gift from the volcano for the industry. They use the lava stones for the barbecue plates. You can buy the small bottle of ashes as a souvenir.
There is a ferry from Kagoshima-ko (Kagoshima Port) which operates 24 hours (15-60 minutes interval). It takes about 15 minutes. It costs 200 yen (100 yen from 1 year old to elementary student) for one way.