The Heartland of Creation Mythology
The sacred Kirishima Shrine is at the very heart of Japan’s creation mythology. Devoted to the grandson of the sun goddess Amaterasu, it was said that he descended from heaven to Mt Takachiho-no-mine to rule over the earth. Though the original shrine was destroyed multiple times by volcanic eruptions, it was always rebuilt, and now stands amidst ancient and serene forests that are also an important cultural property of Japan. Mythology aside, Mt Takachiho-no-mine is a hiker's dream. Beginning at the pampas grass-covered highlands of Ebino Kogen, a trek to the sacred mountain will take you past some of the National Park's most spectacular volcanic landscapes, including the active Shinmoedake volcano.
The Power of the Earth
Literally translating to "cherry blossom island", Sakurajima is Japan's most active volcano and a symbol of the seaside city, Kagoshima, in Kagoshima prefecture. Erupting almost every day, even from a distance, you can see the volcano's rising plumes of grey smoke and clouds of volcanic ash. While you cannot climb to the top of Sakurajima, you can trek or drive all the way around it and explore the solidified lava flow that has shaped much of the National Park's landscape. For a spectacular panoramic view of Sakurajima, visit the elegant and historical Sengan-en — a traditional Japanese garden that has been passed down within the same samurai clan family for over 350 years.
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