Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hachimantai dreaming

Just north of Morioka is a place called Hachimantai. Whilst I can't comment much on the town, I didn't really go in there, I did get a chance to look at two places in the area and both were spectacular in their own ways.
The lava flow is an amazing area at the foot of Mount Iwate. 
For those who are interested, the volcano that is the mountain last erupted in 1919, where ash was sent into the air. The lava flow, known as Yakehashiri,  is from the previous eruption in 1732. 
This is where I got my information from. Amazing - they have the internet on computers now! Anyways today it's a rather large area covered with rocks formed from the molten lava which obviously cooled in the years after the eruption, and today have a nice path marked out through them that people can wander at their leisure. It's a truly remarkable place I had no idea existed! I would put it right up there with any tourist site in Iwate.
Mount Iwate in the background behind the Yakehashiri Lava flow.
Also in the Hachimentai region is an old sulphur mining town. It's part of the town of Matsuo, and was known as the Matsuo Gouzan mine. The drive up was beautiful, on a beautiful clear day. Unlike the lava flow, there was not a lot of people there to visit it, although the odd interested passerby did pop in.
In fact, the mine closed way back in 1969. The mine itself you can't visit, but the small accompanying town is still there of sorts represented as a collection of old concrete apartment buildings. It is said to be one of the creepiest places on Earth. I was there on a cool but sunny Autumn day, so it wasn't so creepy, but never the less it is an amazing place.

Not the sort of place tourists normally frequent, the old concrete buildings have most of the innards ripped out today, as you can see in the picture. I'm not sure how safe the buildings are, but I was with a few people and we all made it out alive! It's certainly eerie, and beautiful in its own way.

So it goes to show, I've been here a year and half now but still discovering new and unusual places to visit. Both of these are free of course - although you're going to need a car to get to either of them! Viva Iwate!

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