Mount Unzen is an active volcano, and is positioned in the center of
Shimabara city is at the eastern foot of this mountain.
It has some peaks, and the main peak is Fugendake (1,359 meters high) and the highest peak is Heisei-Shinzan (1,483 meters high).
From 1989, this mountain showed signs of volcanic activity.
And it erupted on November 17th, 1990.
Small-scale pyroclastic flows occured often on the eastern mountain side, so Shimabara city had been on the alert.
On June 3rd, 1991, a great-scale pyroclastic flow occured, and it sacrificed 43 peoples (newspersons, firemen, policemen, volcanists).
This accidents were caused by the extensive media coverage on the constant pyroclastic flows, beacuse some newspersons were out of the safe area to capture the moment.
Since that, the caution zone was stretched, and more than 10 thousand
peoples in Shimabara city and the surrounding towns were forced to
The eruption activity stopped in 1995.
Fugendake peak is the main point of this eruption, and it created a new
huge dome of lava.
It is Heisei-Shinzan which had grown higher than Fugendake. The peak is positioned about 500 meters east of Fugendake peak.
There is Unzen hot spring resort (Unzen Onsen) at about 5 km
southwestern foot of Fugendake peak.
There are about a dozen of hotels and ryokans, and some public bathhouses are in this resort town.
And there is the field where hou spring and volcanic gas spout.
It is called "Unzen-Jigoku". "Jigoku" means "hell".
Of course, it looks like the scenery of hell.
In the 1620s, Shigemasa Matsukura (1574-1630), the first lord of Shimabara Domain, suppressed Christianity and caught Christians were tortured and killed in this very hot springs in Unzen-Jogoku.
Photo by Kogashitsu-Kabegami
Oura Catholic Church