Global Geopark Designation
The Shimabara Peninsular has been designated as a Global Geopark, and there are 150,000 people living within the Unzen Volcanic Area Global Geopark on the Shimabara Peninsular. Over its history, Shimabara has walked hand-in-hand with both the danger and blessings of volcanic eruption damage. On the Shimabara Peninsular, the coexistence between humans and volcanoes takes form.
Of course, hot springs—one of Japan’s most relaxing pleasures—are another attraction of Shimabara.
In the year 1792 Mt. Mayuyama, situated to the west of Shimabara, collapsed as the result of an enormous earthquake.
The collapsed mountain caused considerable damage to the people living nearby, flowing towards the sea as it crumbled and causing a tsunami that led to widespread damage on the coastline as far afield as neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture.
This event became known as the “Shimabara Taihen” disaster.
On the other hand, the collapsed mountain created a cluster of small islands now known as the Kujukushima (“the 99 islands”), and formed the superb landscape that remains to this day.
The Heisei Eruption
Mt. Unzen erupted in 1663, and then again in 1792. The series of volcanic activity on the mountain that took place between 1990 and 1995 is called the “Heisei eruptions” (Heisei is the era in Japan that started with the accession of the new Emperor in 1989), and these eruptions also led to pyroclastic flows and debris flows that caused widespread damage.
Some of the houses that were damaged by the Heisei eruptions are now preserved and can be visited by tourists. The area recovered from the damage caused by the eruptions, but its scars can still be seen today.
Mt. Heisei-Shinzan is a lava dome formed by the lava that burst out of the crater and solidified.
Due to its high viscosity the magma that erupted during the Heisei eruptions didn’t flow, hardening into lumps instead.
These lumps have repeatedly collapsed, causing debris flows, but the area is now safe.
The lava dome that was formed can be observed from numerous points within the city of Shimabara, and by using the climbing route that has been laid down visitors can also observe the mountain from close quarters.
You can read about important points regarding climbing the mountain here .
Mt. Unzen Disaster Memorial Hall
What has happened in this area and what has remained, from the beginning of Heisei eruption in November 1990 till the declaration of ceasing of eruption in 1996.
We will convey the lesson of the disaster and natural threats to future generations and not allow this lesson to be forgotten.
Exhibits are divided into 11 zones which are about the volcano and disaster prevention, together with the Heisei Eruption theater where you can simulate experiencing the pyroclastic debris flow on the big-impact dome screen.
It is the only Museum where you can easily learn about volcanoes via a simulated experience.