The disruptive volcano

We have entered the tropics! To celebrate, we worked up a sunburn and joined the spring break tourists city bus tour around Kagoshima, landing on the volcanic island of Sakurajima. The Minami-dake peak erupts about 800 times a year, and at least ten times while we counted. It is also home to a giant white radish and a wonderful reed for one of our future shoots.

At 4.45 am the morning after we set out to see the wonders of Ebino Kogen, part of Kirishima National Park and home to the highest crater lakes in Japan. We were excited until we reached the plateau and realised the volcanic eruptive no-go-zone included every single one of the locations we had set our eyes on. The Kirishima mountains consist of more than 20 volcanoes, with the latest full-scale eruption of Mount Shinmoe in 2011, leading to the closure of many trails and roads. After a very small personal melt down, we realised we were spoilt for choice exactly where we were.

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Kagoshima-chuo train station is well stocked on information on the area. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

The cherry island volcano is on orange alert. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

While the volcano was busy, so were we.  © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Man of the year! © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Monday morning: Somehow we managed to forget that a bus journey costs money, real tangible money. Stranded on a hillside at dawn, we were saved by the most wonderful taxi driver, whose name we forgot to ask in the fluster. Two trains, two taxi rides and four buses later, we declared this man: Man of the year. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

You can cook anything on geothermal steam. Even breakfast. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

That’s definitely out of bounds. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

The moment of deflation. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Hall crabapple only grows in the Kirishima region and is near extinct. Promising location number one. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Legging it to the promising location number two. This is a real Japanese swamp. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

All of these sticks were laying loose on the ground. We will just borrow them a little bit and  return them right here when our mission is completed. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

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