National Parks of Japan

Part 8

Aso-Kuju National Park

Aso-Kuju National Park is a national park in Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures, Japan. The park derives its name from Mount Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan, and the Kuju mountains. Established as Aso National Park in 1934, in 1986 after extension the park was renamed Aso-Kuju National Park.

Mt. Asosan is a huge caldera formed by an eruption that occurred some 90,000 years ago. It is a typical double caldera about 16 km from east to west, 23 km from north to south, and the outer rim of the crater is about 128 km. It is one of the largest calderas in the world. Mt. Asosan is a common designation for five peaks, of which Mt. Nakadake of Aso (1,506 m) is still active and fuming. It is one of the few craters at which visitors can go to the edge of the crater and look into it when the volcano is calm.

The Kuju Volcanic Group located in the northeast of the Aso caldera has Mt. Kujusan (1,787 m) as its main peak and Mt. Nakadake of Kuju (1,791 m), the highest peak on the Kyushu mainland. While there is a range of volcanoes here, many of them don't have a crater. At the foot of the mountains spread out grand plateaus including the Kujukogen Plateau.

Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park

Kirishima-Yaku National Park is a national park in Kyushu, Japan. The main are of the park is Kirishima-Kagoshima Bay, an area of Kagoshima Prefecture and Miyazaki Prefecture known for its active volcanoes, volcanic lakes, and onsen. Kirishima Volcanic Group consists of 23 volcanoes including Mt. Karakunidake (1,700 m), its highest peak, and Mt. Takachihonomine (1,574 m). Many of them are conical with round craters at their tops and have the appearance of typical volcanoes. In the Ebinokogen Plateau at the foot of the mountains, gushing sulfurous steam can be seen, and the area abounds with hot springs. The plateau also has rich natural forests.

Sakurajima is a volcano which appears to rise straight up from the sea. It is one of the major active volcanoes in Japan that still erupts and sends up ash repeatedly today. Sakurajima used to be an island but the flow of lava from a massive eruption in the early 20th century dammed up the channel between the island and the Osumihanto Peninsula, and now, it is connected to the peninsula. Mt. Kaimondake (924 m) at the south end of the Satsumahanto Peninsula is a volcano with a beautiful conical shape which appears to rise out of the sea. At the foot of the mountain, there are a caldera lake and Ibusuki, a famous spa resort. Cape Satamisaki at the south tip of the Osumihanto Peninsula is a tourist spot which is well-known as it is the southernmost point on the Kyushu mainland.

Yakushima National Park

Yakushima Island consists largely of a granite platform raised about 14 million years ago. It is an almost perfectly round island about 25 km in diameter with Mt. Miyanouradake (1,936 m), the highest mountain in the Kyushu Region, as its core. Because of its rich nature, the island is listed on the World Natural Heritage Site. There is an expression: "In Yakushima, it rains 35 days a month". Indeed, the island is extremely rainy with annual precipitation of over 4,000 mm, but has a mild climate. Therefore, it is blessed with rich forests. Cedars growing in Yakushima Island which are over 1,000-years-old are called Yakusugi (Cryptomeria japonica). There are many large Yakusugi trees on the island. In particular, a huge Yakusugi called Jomonsugi, which has a trunk circumference of over 16 m, is regarded as the symbol of the island and conserved carefully.

Kuchinoerabujima Island is located about 12 km west-northwest of Yakushima Island, which has an area of approximately 38 square kilometers. There are Mt. Furudake (657m), the highest mountain of this island, Mt. Shindake, Mt. Nochisan, and some mountains on east area of the island. Mt. Shindake is an active volcano, erupting often recent years. Around Mt. Shindake it has many fumaroles and cracking craters, creating anomalous landscape. Rich natural forests of Japanese chinquapin (Castanopsis sieboldii ) remains at a part of piedmont. Kuchinoerabujima Island is called "Green Volcanic Island" because of much variety of plants. Ryukyu flying fox (P.d. dasymallus) lives here. Also, coastal cliffs and marine caves exist on sea shores.

Yambaru National Park

Yambaru National Park is a national park in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. Established in 2016, it is located in and around the forested region of Yambaru at the northern end of Okinawa Island. The park comprises a land area of 13,622 ha (33,660 acres) in the villages of Kunigami, Ōgimi, and Higashi together with 3,670 ha (9,100 acres) of the surrounding waters. In the park, there is one of the largest subtropical evergreen forests in the nation. It provides habitat for many endemic species native to Yambaru, including endangered Okinawa rail and Okinawa woodpecker, and has unique features such as mangrove forests and limestone cliffs created by wave erosion. It also features various types of subtropical vegetation.

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See Also
Encyclopedia of Japan