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2015年5月26日 星期二

Unzen Hotsprings National Park (雲仙嶽國家公園)

After visiting the Unzen National Park for the azaleas, we went to another tourist hot spot in the Unzen area of at the eastern end of the Shimabara-hantō (島原半島) of Nagasaki Prefecture. It's a literally hot spot!  it's located on the foot of an active volcano  called Unsen-dake which includes the 4,460 feet Fugen-sake (普賢嶽)  which started tremors in late 1791 and then finally erupted in February 1792 when hot molten lava continuously poured out from its vents for some 2 months, ending with a huge explosion in May 1792 which caused an entire mountain to slide into the Ariake-kai (有明海 ) sea, the largest bay in Kyushu, leading to a tsunami with waves more than 100 meter-high and resulted in more than 15,000 deaths! Earth tremors re-started in July 1990, flames started to spout in November again and then in June 1991 huge quantities of molten lava suddenly began pouring down from its sides, causing 43 deaths and destroying some 180 houses. The last recorded lava flow was in February 1995. Since then, its volcanic activities seems to have subsided. it's not known when it will erupt again.



Before reaching the hot spot, we passed through one hill after another all full of blooming wild azaleas.



Everywhere we went, we saw such steaming gases filled with the peculiar acrid smell of sulphur.




Yet there are hotels built right beside such hotsprings. All the pipes we see around here are probably intended ultimately for the comfort of the hotel guests.




Another one of the "hells", criss-crossed with metal pipes",

In Unzen, the hotsprings are called by a picturesque name, "jigoku" or "hell" (地獄). The local guide explained that they are so called because the scalding steam and bad smell pouring out from  the hotsprings resemble very much what the Japanese imagine "hell" would be. Each of the hotsprings here have got their individual names e.g one is called Oito Jigoku
線地獄」 and another called Daikyokan Jigoku.「大喊叫地獄」etc.



Our tour group members going through the "hells"




Blue heaven above the hells !




The steam rises quite really high, almost a hundred feet from its source. if I remember correctly, the highest one is called Daikyokan Jigoku (大叫喚地獄) on account of the "cries" emitted by the scalding milky-colored waters as they spew up from their subterraneous hideouts, like the shrieks of those sent to hell as they meet their fate in the netherworld for the evils they've done whilst above.



Probably because of the rich soup of minerals from the volcanic spring water, the trees here grow really well


The buds of the pine trees.



This is what they look like up close.



An entire hill filled with their buds



Some leaves have begun to spout from the buds.


Strings of yellow bells called "shirododans", which grow in the area, a flower belonging to the azalea family which starts blooming around mid-May each year and has been registered as one of Japan's "national monuments" since 1928!


Mosses lose no time to colonize deadwood.



The road to hells can't be straight!



Japanese are fond of piling up rocks to form human figurines.



Two "hells" vying with each other: which is more potent? Which will pollute the atmosphere  faster with  more of their baleful emissions?




One of the "hells": looks harmless enough.




One can see the bubbles and fallen branches and leaves all bleached white.




Yet not a hundred yards from "hell" is this beautifully manicured garden.



Before our lunch, we were taken to the shore of the Ariake-kai (有明海). One can see that special underground channels have to be built to siphon off excessive hotspring water in the area.




A Japanese gardener carefully tending the roadside flowers of the town of  Shmabara.



the tangible result of her labors


Some beautiful white and red bells


A contemporary looking sea-side building. To its left, we can see the ferry pier, just half an hour journey from Kumamoto.




Free foot warming in the troughs with water from the hotsprings: compliments of the town.



Steam from the town's free seaside hotspring



The various numbers on the walls designate various pots for boiling "hotspring eggs" on sale there



A couple with a basket for some "hotspring eggs" .


Opening times, prices and even cartoons on display


I wonder what this anchor like "hand" is supposed to suggest.



Whatever it means, we found these hotspring water fountains behind the "hotspring egg"  stall.  



The fountain was bathed in a haze of steam.


Our tour group members were happy to have the chance to seek a bit of relief for their poor feet, cramped for hours inside tight shoes during the coach journey by soaking them in the soothing hotspring water in this trough provided by the municipal government free of charge.


 How blue the sky! How blue the sea! and how peaceful one feels sitting here in the gentle early summer breeze!