Geosites

The word "geosite" is used to refer to the must-see locations among the numerous attractive spots of the geopark. Geosite refers not only to beautiful landscapes and geographic features, but also to the natural forces that shape the view. Furthermore, the story of each geosite is mutually tied-in to those of the other geosites and if you visit all 44 geosites you can get the whole picture of the volcanic history of the Kirishima Mountains. Won't you take a tour of the geosites and experience the allure they have to offer?


The Geosites of Kirishima Geopark

At the Kirishima Geopark, you can enjoy the view of the Kakuto Caldera and the landscape created by the Kirishima Mountains volcanic cluster located south of it.

The Kakuto Caldera

Approximately 340,000 years ago, a huge oval depression with a diameter of 16 km X 10 km was formed in what is now near the city of Ebino. At that time, the pyroclastic flow spewed out to blanket and fill the already existing geologic features of southern Kyushu. The deposits from that time have been worn away over many years and leave us with the current shapes of the beautiful waterfalls and gorges.

The geosites where you can enjoy the landscape created by the Kakuto Caldera eruption include: to the Northeast - Suki Falls (Mamako Falls), Inyoseki, Sannomiyakyo Gorge, Bishamon Falls; to the Southeast - Kirihara Falls, Sanrentodoro Falls, Sekino-o Falls, and Gorogatodoro Falls. Furthermore, you can really feel the grand scale of the panoramic views of the Kakuto Caldera from the Kirishima Mountains and the Yatake Plateau and Ikoma Plateau.


The Kirishima Volcanic Cluster

The south rim of the Kakuto Caldera is not clearly defined. This is because the Kirishima Mountains volcanic cluster became active there after the Kakuto Caldera was formed. The Kirishima Mountains, including more than 20 volcanoes heaped upon each other with each one having a unique style of eruption and geographic shape, can truly be called a volcanic museum. Furthermore, you can enjoy the varied vegetation and catch a glimpse into the history of the legends and beliefs surrounding the volcanoes.

The eruption of Mt. Shinmoedake in January 2011 reminded us that the Kirishima Mountains are active volcanoes. As of January 2014, due to the influence of the eruption of Mt. Shinmoedake, an area centered around the crater of Mt. Shinmoedake with a radius of 1 km including the hiking routes around there has been restricted and one cannot visit the geosites of Mt. Shinmoedake, Mt. Nakadake, Lake Biwaike, and Mt. Shishikodake. Won't you traverse the geosites of the volcanically active Kirishima Mountains and experience the breath of a volcano?