January 23rd, 2005


Under the volcano

If you click the photo above you can see a strip of pictures of my weekend in Hokkaido. Friday night saw a project by Lehan Ramsay's students at the Future University, with coloured projections aimed at ice sculptures. On Saturday I drove with Lehan and her artist friend Tatsuzo Hyakuda to a volcano north of Hakodate, Mount Komagakate, a 'pyroxene andesite stratovolcano', apparently. It's still active, and still so dangerous that the route to the top has been closed since the last eruption, in 1996. We skirted the lake in a soft blizzard, lunching on the freshest, most melt-in-the-mouth sushi I think I've ever tasted, then watched a geyser while dipping our feet in seismic water. Finally we bathed naked in a rotenburo, a gorgeous outdoor bath at a big hotel on the slopes of the mountain. I sat, wearing nothing but a straw hat, in an outdoor rockpool surrounded by deep, smooth snow, replenished by a carefully-framed mountain stream of steaming water straight from the volcano. Bliss! (No red-nosed monkeys, though.)