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Volcanoes

Most of Japan's mountains are of volcanic origin. While volcanoes cause major destruction and inconvenience during their eruptions, many of them are also tourist attractions for their scenic landscapes, hiking trails and relaxing hot springs. Also related to volcanoes are the so called hell valleys (jigokudani), fields of volcanic activity that attract tourists with spectacular steam vents, hot streams and the smell of sulfur in the air.

Most of Japan's volcanoes are found in Hokkaido, the Tohoku, Kanto and Chubu regions, and on Kyushu, while comparatively fewer are found in the Kansai, Shikoku and Chugoku regions. Mount Fuji is the tallest and most famous volcano in Japan. Several prominent volcanoes around the country are nicknamed after Mount Fuji, e.g. Rishiri-Fuji or Aizu-Fuji, because of their similar shape and local fame.

Warning levels

The Japan Meteorological Agency maintains a 5-level warning system for volcanic activity. The scale begins at level one, which indicates a normal state, although visitors should still be aware that they approach a potentially active volcano. Level two indicates a no-entry zone around the crater, while level three prohibits hiking up the mountain. At level four, nearby residents should prepare to evacuate, and level five calls for immediate evacuation due to an imminent eruption threatening residential areas.

See our Disaster Update page for a list of prominent volcanoes that are currently closed.

Prominent volcanoes

Mount Rishiri

Last eruption: 2000-8000 years ago
Height: 1721 meters

Mount Tarumae

Last eruption: 1981
Height: 1041 meters

Mount Usu

Last eruption: 2000
Height: 733 meters
Yamagata and Miyagi Prefectures

Mount Zao

Last eruption: 1940
Height: 1841 meters
Fukushima and Yamagata Prefectures

Azuma Mountains

Last eruption: 1977
Height: 1949 meters
Nagano and Gunma Prefectures

Mount Asama

Last eruption: 2019
Height: 2568 meters

Mount Mihara

Last eruption: 1990
Height: 758 meters
Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures

Mount Fuji

Last eruption: 1707
Height: 3776 meters

Mount Aso

Last eruption: 2021
Height: 1592 meters
Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures

Kuju Mountains

Last eruption: 1996
Height: 1791 meters
Kagoshima and Miyazaki Prefectures

Mount Kirishima

Last eruption: 2018
Height: 1700 meters

Sakurajima

Last eruption: 2022
Height: 1117 meters

Hell valleys (jigokudani)

Hell valleys are barren, volcanically active grounds with a rocky terrain, hot steam vents, sulfurous streams, bubbling springs and mud pools. Hell valleys earn their name by their desolate landscape, the smell of sulfur in the air and occasional deaths of small animals who fell victim to the heavy, poisonous gases that are emitted by some of the vents and settle just above the ground. Local authorities will close off sections of hell valleys that pose a health risk to visiting tourists.

Noboribetsu Hell Valley

Tamagawa Onsen

Owakudani

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Unzen Hells

Beppu Hells