Showa Shinzan is a new mountain that was created sometime between 1944 and 1945 when a series of earthquakes prompted lava to erupt through the surface of some overturned wheat fields. When it first erupted, the Japanese authorities didn’t want it to seem like a bad omen during war time so they kept it pretty hush-hush. Now it’s a pretty interesting sight to behold, very red in colour and still smoking and steaming from its peak.
Nick & Showa Shinzan, still steaming!
Riding the Gondola up to Mt.Usu
The gondola with Showa Shinzan in the background
Nick and I stayed in the small town of Toya at the Showa Shinzan Youth Hostel. There was no one around, the hostel was completely empty except for us. The hostel seemed very haunted. At night we could hear someone watching TV in the room across from us and we could hear them opening and closing doors but during the morning and the day it was obvious there was no one else there. CREEPY!
Studying & watching Japanese TV in the empty hostel
Nick had to walk over 5km on the side of the road with trucks roaring past in a blizzard to get us sustenance (ramen noodles & beer) from the local convenience store. Luckily we found a restaurant the second day that served the best katsu curry either of us had ever eaten. It could’ve been that all we had to compare was undercooked cup of noodle for the two days, but it was still delicious.
A poster for the International Snowball Fight Tournament happening the week after we arrived…bad timing!
I highly recommend visiting Showa Shinzan and the Lake Toya area during the spring/summer months. Like many places we visited in Japan that were covered in snow, there was not a lot going on in town and a lot of the amenities for travellers were virtually closed down. On the other hand it was nice to beat the crowds and to enjoy something all to ourselves!