CultureExperience the Dynamism of the Earth at GeoparksⅡ

att.JAPAN Issue 61, Autumn/2012

A geopark is a place where people can learn about how the earth was formed and works by coming into contact with “geological heritages” (geosites), which include peculiar geological features and conditions, such as volcanoes and rocks. Geoparks allow people to think about how the earth has been affecting the ecosystem and human life. Geoparks promote an experienced-based tourism style where visitors walk around to learn about the history of the earth and enjoy looking at dynamic scenery as well as tasting the locally harvested food.

The Japanese archipelago encompasses highly diverse landforms with rare geological features in the world. Five locations in Japan (as of August, 2012) that have been considered to have a particularly high quality of land diversity, including Lake Toya and Mount Usu, the Itoi River, the San-in coasts, the Shimabara Peninsula, and Muroto, are designated as global geoparks by the Global Geoparks Network (an UNESCO program established in 2004). In addition, there are about 20 other geoparks that have been developing various original experience-based programs. Since Japan has many active volcanoes, there are various measures against eruption disaster, while at the same people enjoy the blessings of the volcanoes, such as hot springs. Geoparks in Japan have many interesting attractions, where people can experience dynamic crustal movements, see fossils over 100 million years old, and so on. Please enjoy Japan’s geoparks with guided tours, hot springs, distinct local cuisine, and varieties of local sake.

Muroto Geopark

A place where the earth was thrust up by massive earthquakes, giving birth to new lands
The Muroto Peninsula, which at one time was undersea, is now a place filled with interesting geological spots, including traces of magma and new land formations raised in the Nankai megathrust earthquakes. The area also includes a mystical cave where Kukai, a famous Japanese Buddhist priest, became enlightened about 1,200 years ago. There are facilities, called Deep Sea World and Aqua Farm, where you can learn about, drink, and swim in deep sea water, which comes up when it hits the steep fault scarp located relatively close to the shore, allowing easier access and intake of the deep sea water in that area. Visitors can also enjoy whale watching from March to May.
Kochi City -> Muroto-misaki (Cape Muroto): 1 h 40 min by expressway bus bound for Muroto-misaki

Unzen Volcanic Area Global Geopark

Calamities and blessings of volcanic eruptions
This geopark includes Mount Heisei Shinzan, an active volcano that erupted between 1990 and 1995. At the park visitors can learn about the reconstruction process following the disaster. Chijiwa Fault, which was formed by sinking land, is an interesting place to see the dynamic features of faults. Although people in this area have been largely affected by volcanic eruptions, they are blessed with abundant spring water, fertile lands, hot springs, and other natural resources created by the volcano. Visitors can learn about the unique history of people co-existing with the active volcano in this area.
Hakata Sta -> Shimabara Hanto Sta : 3 h by JR limited express train and Shimabara Tetsudo train (change at Isahaya Sta)

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