5 Spooky Finds at Konpira Mountain, Hokkaido
Japan is blessed with onsens that are the envy of the world. Unfortunately, in order to have onsens, you must also have volcanoes. And volcanoes do occasionally go off. Something that this small town at the foot of Mt. Usu is an excellent reminder of.
Mt. Usu erupts about once every 40 and the most recent eruption was in 2000. The eruption caused earthquakes, hurled rocks into the air and started enormous mudslides. The area was evacuated and has since been untouched. If you take a five-minute bus ride from Lake Toya Onsen, you can see it all first hand. It’s an amazing walk and these are five of the spookiest things you will find.
The mud filled onsen
As you walk up the path from the main entrance, the first thing that meets the eye is the onsen. The building was half buried by one of the mud flows. Natural erosion over the last 18 years has removed some of the mud, but you can still see how deep it was. If you look in through the windows, you can still see the vending machine and a lot of the trappings of the building. You can see the lockers in this picture.
The uninhabited apartment block
Walk past the onsen, past the bridge that was swept far down its river, and you’ll find one of the spookiest things you’ll see. This haunting six story block might appear short to you. That’s because the mud covered its first two floors. Rocks thrown from the volcano smashed the walls, windows and there is a giant hole in the roof. If you climb the mud, you can see inside some of the rooms.
A pretty lake, in the remains of what used to be a road!
Carry along the mountain trail and you’ll come to the far side. This side wasn’t hit by mudslides. This side was destroyed by earthquakes and the flying boulders. The first thing you’ll see is what looks like a quaint little pond in a village square. Move closer and you’ll see road signs and power lines sticking out of the water. And, what is that? A road leads in on one side and out on the other? Yes, this quaint little pond used to be a road past another onsen. The onsen is abandoned, the road collapsed, and you can still see a car that was crushed by rocks.
Road from a post-Armageddon apocalypse.
Follow the road up the hill. What do you mean you can’t? Ah. Because it has been torn up by earthquakes. You can see how much the earth moved and the road has been concertinaed. Feel the power of mother Earth.
The Kindergarten from Hell.
The path winds between buildings destroyed by rocks. Until you come to the end and find yourself in front of the kindergarten from Hell. Rocks have blasted holes in the walls. Trees are growing out from the windows and the inside is still eerily recognizable.
(Bonus) The bus from Hell to take students to the Kindergarten from Hell.
The school bus is still where it was left when the town was evacuated. It’s rusted up and there are huge holes blasted by rocks. One goes right through the driver’s seat.
The town was evacuated in time. But, Mt. Usu will erupt again. And so will many of the other 200 volcanoes in Japan. Enjoy your walk around Mt. Konpira, but take heed.