The mystical lava road was always a top visiting priority when I knew I was going to Sakurajima. Despite being lost in the charms of the area and forgetting to find it, I did finally manage to make my way there with the help of the long view island bus tour and it was everything I’d hoped it’d be. The volcanic rockery peeking behind the few, small, authentic, market-like shops and even the stairs crafted from pure solidified lava were not enough to prepare me for what I saw.
Layers upon layers of volcanic rock paved the distance. In every edge and crevice there were mounds and mounds of jaunty angled, blackened rock, creating the borders of a path that led to more of the lava encased landscape. While the volcano had clearly destroyed most of the greenery and nature of the place, this didn’t disturb it’s beauty. There was something so encapsulating and majestic about the way the rocks had formed. It makes you wonder what the months of the rare dripping lava of the great 1914 eruption must have looked like; how it snaked through the landscape, coating it in its permanent liquid reds and oranges.
The views are beyond spectacular. And, if you are not satisfied with 1km of beautifully solidified devastation, you can look back over at the view of the steaming peaks from the hill that was formed from the most powerful eruption of the 20th century. There are even small shrines to find and strong vegetation that has managed to live and grow through the desolated site. You could even add to the mass of ¥1 coins slotted into a few of the lava rocks for good luck.
The Lava Road is one of two possible lava trails, the other one being Nagisa Lava Trail, next to the foot spa. Also, while both are worthy of taking a look around, this Lava Road is not only longer, but it’s also more diverse. Not to mention, it offers a few amazing view points and the best viewing spot for the Showa crater (created by the eruption in 1914). So it’s far more spectacular in general.
The observatory is a worthy stop on the long island view bus tour, which allows only 20 minutes worth of viewing time before leaving for the next site. Of course, the ideal method would be to rent a car, but if this isn’t possible, the bus tour is, in my opinion, is more than worth it. I would not advise walking here as it would take a considerably long amount of time and leave you exhausted for the rest of your trip. You could use a bike, but again, the island view bus tours are so worthwhile, it would seem a shame to waste time trying to make your own way there, considering you risk the chance that you might get lost and frustrated.
This is one of the most mind blowing landscapes you may ever see. One of the greatest aspects is the ability to see a story. The shelter, the path of the lava, how it solidified, all tell a story of both beauty and devastation; one that you can only imagine. There aren’t many opportunities to see the devastation of a vast amount of lava, so don’t miss out.