Lunch on a Volcano
I finished the text and pressed the send button on my phone:
Eating lunch on top of a volcano!
Then I felt a bit mean. My mother wouldn’t know Mount Omuro was safe. I took a photo of the lush green grass inside Omuro’s crater to show her how non-threatening it was. According to one of the information boards Mount Omuro is part of an active terrestrial and submarine monogenetic volcano field — a monogenetic volcano being one that does not erupt again in the same place, unlike say Mount Fuji or most other volcanoes.
This small, 580 metre tall volcanic cone is situated on the eastern side of the Izu Peninsula. It is accessible by bus from Ito or Izu Kogen stations and is actually not far to walk from Izu Kogen if you feel so inclined.
There is a café and shopping area for souvenirs as you dismount the bus and then all visitors must take the rickety cable car up the mountain to another small souvenir and snack shop at the top. As you escape the postcards and gift boxes you emerge on to the crater rim with a 360 degree view that makes you feel on top of the world. A paved path circles the crater, from which you can admire the views of Fuji and the mountains to the north, and the Jogasaki coastline and sea to the south and west. On a fine day you can see for miles. Along the way you will pass two sets of carved Jizos and a stone engraved with a poem. The walk will only take 15 – 20 minutes.
The crater is about 300 metres across and 70 metres deep. Inside the centre, archery butts have been set up and a small office rents bows and arrows (approximately 1000 yen per hour for access and rental).
Mount Omuro’s eruptions some 4000 years ago spilled the lava that formed the nearby coastline of the eastern Izu Peninsula. A walk along the nearby Jogasaki coast goes over some of these lava fields and there are platforms of hardened lava that jut out into the sea.
On the second Sunday in February each year the vegetation is burned off the mountainside, which shows off Omuro’s distinctive cone shape. There are photos of ceremony called Yamayaki, in the souvenir shop at the top of the chair lift.
Finishing my picnic lunch, and shivering in the sharp wind that has sculpted the few straggly bushes on the crater rim, I returned to the chair lift and left the mountain. Safely down, I pressed send and off whizzed the photos of the velvety green volcanic crater. My mother could relax again.
The trip up and down the volcano probably takes about an hour. Across the road from Mount Omuro, if you want to extend your visit to the area, is the Izu Cactus Park with pyramid shaped greenhouses of plants and various animal residents. Or you can just amaze friends and family with ‘picnicking on a volcano’ photos and stories.
Chair Lift: 9:00 to 17:15 (until 16:45 March 1-15, until 16:15 October to February)
Price: 500 Yen