A still active volcano above Toya-ko (???), Usu-zan (???) is one with an impressive story of recent eruptions and destruction. That story is very well documented and illustrated at the nearby Volcano Museum. In the earthquake-simulation room you hear and feel the roaring sound of eruptions, see flying red lava and rocks into your window in an eerily realistic way. We came out of the eruption show feeling small, vulnerable and powerless.

This volcano erupted two times in the last 40 years and created a couple of new craters and cones. The earthquake in 1977 covered the town of Toya-ko Onsen with lava and rocks. Due to a rare predictability of this volcano’s activity, nobody died.

Steep 260 steps up and down

We did a beautiful stroll around the Usu-zan crater, watching steaming smoke and inhaling sulfur-saturated air. It’s a peaceful and scenic walk with a steep staircase going 260 steps up and down.   It’s also a bit scary to imagine that the mountain might explode again  anytime.

After the walk, we went back to the Toya-ko and warmed up our feet…

Toya-ko foot bath

Toya-ko foot bath