Featuring stunning close-up views of Heisei-shinzan, the walking track through this impressive natural environment is highly recommended!
Fugen-dake is part of Mount Unzen, a 1,359 m-high volcano in Nagasaki that was Japan’s first national park. Until the 1,483 m-high Heisei-shinzan (formed between 1990 and 1995) emerged, it was the highest peak on Mount Unzen. From the early 8th century, the whole of Mount Unzen was venerated as a sacred mountain by practitioners of Shugendo (a religion unique to Japan, which focused on achieving enlightenment through secluding oneself in the mountains and undertaking harsh ascetic practices). The surrounding area is also renowned as a hot spring district, with a pervasive smell of sulfur.
Due to damage caused by the volcanic eruption in 1990, climbing the mountain was prohibited for a while, but a new mountain trail called the New Unzen-Fugen-dake Mountain Trail has been opened, providing close-up views of Heisei-shinzan. The trail runs from the entrance to the mountain at Kijindani and takes in a number of points with splendid views of Mount Unzen, such as Heisei-shinzan wreathed in water vapor, as well as a superb panorama of the Ariake Sea.
This area has a pristine natural environment, including a number of rare species, so it has been designated as a specially-protected area by the national government. As you walk amid the leafy trees, you’re bound to encounter a variety of beautiful plants in each of the four seasons, as well as rare wild animals and birds. In mid-May, the valleys are adorned with what looks like a carpet of Rhododendron keiskei; in summer they are filled with the twittering of wild birds such as the Asian Stubtail and the Narcissus Flycatcher; and in fall, the mountains are covered with a sea of scarlet leaves from 100 varieties of tree, including Kousa dogwood and Enkianthus cernuus. This is a spot where you can enjoy a wide range of scenery, from powerful active volcanoes to dainty wildflowers.
- Shimabara City, Nagasaki