NAGANO '98 Kids' Info Center



Mt. Asama: Nagano's Active Volcano

Japan has a lot of volcanoes, both active and dormant. Japan's volcanoes are part of a long chain of volcanoes that extends along the northwest Pacific rim from Indonesia and the Philippines all the way to the Aleutian Islands. There are 39 active volcanoes in Japan, one of which--Mt. Unzen--had a big eruption in 1990.

The best-known volcano in Nagano Prefecture is Mt. Asama, which has grown taller over the years due to repeated eruptions. Right now it's 2,568 meters (8,425 feet) high. Located 150 kilometers (95 miles) northwest of Tokyo, Mt. Asama is the gateway to Nagano Prefecture from the greater Tokyo area.

Its most recent major eruption was in 1783, when entire villages were wiped out. The flow of lava blocked a nearby river, and the overflowing water carried people and horses all the way to Tokyo Bay (known in those days as Edo Bay).

Volcanoes can be deadly, but there is one good side to them: There are always hot springs nearby. The many hot springs in the country are probably why the Japanese love baths so much. In Nagano it's possible to see many hot springs bubbling out of the ground. They can be found around the Olympic area, too--from Mt. Asama to the Alpine slopes of Hakuba and the villages of Yamanouchi and Nozawa Onsen, where the biathlon will be held.