Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fuji eruption could force 567,000 people to evacuate | The Japan Times

Fuji eruption could force 567,000 people to evacuate | The Japan Times

I've never climbed Mt. Fuji.  It's just never interested me.  What I have longed to do, however, is take a beautiful photo of a snow-peaked Fuji.  I've snapped the mountain a few times as I rushed past it on the shinkansen to and from Tokyo, through the less-than-pretty Fuji city, but I've never explored the scenic places around the great symbol's other faces.  For a while I lived in an apartment in downtown Hamamatsu with a view of a thumb-sized Fuji on clear winter days.

A view outside on the elevator landing, that is.

The strangest feeling was just after some winter climbers died there.  It seemed odd to look off in the distance and see a place where people breathed their last.  It gave the mountain a different complexion to me.  Something not just beautiful and picture-postcardesque, but slightly sad or even a little sinister.  Images of Fuji are so ubiquitous we almost take it for granted, although travelers can't help but lean into the windows on the train for a lingering look even if the view's marred by smokestacks.  Who ever thought Fuji was capable of killing?

Well, it is a volcano, after all.  Volcanoes fascinate me.  Pompeii, Krakatoa.  A story I read in Reader's Digest of a volcanologist's brush with death when he and his party were caught in an eruption.  Hot rocks smashed and burned him painfully.  Mount St. Helens captured my imagination when it exploded in 1980.

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