The Road to Hell

8 08 2012

Now now, don’t get worried about the title. We didn’t do anything bad or dangerous. We just happened to visit the site of the gates of Hell, as far as (Japanese?) Buddhists are concerned.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Last week, Miss B decided she really wanted to go to a volcano. She said it would be a little bit scary and a lot bit cool, and who can argue with that? So we did a bit a research and found that there is a dormant volcano with lots of geothermal activity about 110 km from here. Perfect. The only wrinkle was that Google maps said it would take 3 hours to get to, which seemed like an excessive car trip for a spur of the moment excursion. Silly foreigners that we are, we assumed this was somehow a gross overestimation of the time it would take.

We were wrong.

Still, after a pleasant, if incredibly long drive, we arrived at Mt. Osore, or Osorezan in Japanese. Osorezan actually has 8 peaks and is the remains of a large volcano that last erupted a couple of hundred years ago. It is also one of the three most holy spots in Japanese Buddhism, because it is believed that the many fumaroles (hot gas vents) are entrances to the underworld, and that all souls come to rest at Osorezan. So the thing to do is to leave little Buddhas or other remembrances at the fumaroles. They get corroded or coated with mineral deposits from the steam, and it’s quite beautiful.

This being Japan, there were few gates or barriers keeping people from the bubbling pools. At one point, R stepped right onto a fumarole and couldn’t figure out why his foot was getting so hot! B, of course, ate this all up. She recognized several minerals we have learned about before. She said the vents were like a volcano, “a little bit scary and a lot bit exciting!” I have to agree.

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3 responses

12 08 2012
maxkathleen

I think the best things in life are a “little bit scary and a lot bit exciting!” Great post Sarah! We want to see this volcano and get hot feet too.

14 08 2012
ewenique

Interesting. I know I chatted with you on this day but still it’s lovely to see pictures! (And of course i meant helium!)

14 08 2012
juggletreble

I adore volcanoes and am very jealous of your visit! Your blogging is fun to read Sarah.

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