Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sakurajima Erupts – Kyushu Citizens Recite Poetry – Get Drunk – Life Goes On
Sakurajima (aka Cherry Tree Island) is a very active stratovolcano located in Kinko Bay in Kagoshima, Kyushu, the farthest away from everywhere else in the southwestern most tip of Japan. Part of the Aira Caldera and once an actual island, Sakurajima is made up of three distinct volcanic peaks, only one of which is a surly bastard — Minami-dake — Southern Peak, how’s that for a menacing name. This Southern Peak is fuming semi-poisonous smoke and ash nearly non-stop, so it’s hard to take seriously unless something big happens. Like the peak’s lava flows from the very large 1914 eruption which connected Osumi Peninsula, thus erasing its chances for the big Most Dangerous Island contest put on by Unesco World Heritage Site Planning Committee 1915. After erupting for the 500th time in August 2013 the 1117-meter peak left the city of Kagoshima covered with volcanic ash, causing train delays, poor visibility, some awkward skyward glances, and not much else. So inured to the dreary quotidian reality of life in the shadow of a fire-breathing, lightning-spewing dragon mountain, the residents of Kagoshima, who were advised to use masks and umbrellas to protect themselves from the ash, didn’t feel at all put out or inconvenienced. Only slightly more dull than the area fireworks that happen sporadically throughout the year, the eruption sent a volcanic plume 5000 meters in the air, and many yawned behind their masks, shuffling along beneath cheap translucent 100 yen umbrellas, and searched out the local sake bar to see what the Mama had made for dinner.