TOKYO (majirox news) – Early this morning, Yoshiko Higashikubo along with her husband and daughters woke up to the sounds of another eruption from Shinmoedake volcano on Mount Kirishima in southern Kyushu, Japan’s southern most main island. It first erupted on January 26 at 7:30 a.m. sending up plumes of smoke and covering Higashikubo’s village of Kobayashi, which is about 15 kilometers from the volcano, in cinders and ash. The nearby towns in Miyazaki prefecture where Kobayashi is located are still covered with ash while heavy smoke drifts through the air.
This area is famous for its Miyazaki beef. Cattle raisers in this area are seriously worried about their livelihood as the eruptions continue to periodically spew gas, ash and boulders. Yet Higashikubo was able to take some photos of striking beauty of the volcano and told Majirox News her story.
This was my first experience with a volcano. I woke up because of the intense noise of the thunder and shattering of the windows. I didn’t know what was happening. My heart started beating fast as I looked out the window and saw lighting through the darkness.
Our daily life has changed because of the continuing eruptions from the volcano. The small ash particles get inside our homes, so we need to constantly clean. We can’t do it during the day because we’re working. Ash-cleaning services have suddenly popped up and are scamming people, especially the elderly who can’t take care of things by themselves. The ash and heavy smoke shut out the sun, and we can’t even hang our laundry out to dry
The farmers who grow spinach had their fields completely destroyed as more than four inches of ash accumulated, covering their fields. Other vegetable fields are being ruined daily. The ash created an acid soil that won’t grow anything.
I raise 26 beef cattle. There are also six farmers and about 500 Holstein cows who live near the volcano. They are not producing much milk these days because they are stressed by the environment. Cows are sensitive to noise and to the ash in the air. They don’t have any grass to eat.
Because some cows in this area had foot-and-mouth disease in April 2010, they can’t be moved to safer locations. People are worried that they might spread the disease to the other cows, so they have nowhere to go. Another option is for the farmers to sell them, but they won’t do that because they are like their children. They raised them.
The government has promised to help us, but we don’t know how. Nothing has been implemented, yet.
Early this morning, there was another eruption and when I went outside, it was raining very lightly and rocks fell from the sky for about 15 minutes. The sound was scary and intense – much more than heavy rain. Since it was early in the morning, no one was hurt. If it had happened during work hours, I’m sure some people would have been seriously hurt. Some of the rocks were big – much bigger than the ones in the photo. It was eerie.
I heard that this was the first eruption of Shinmoedake volcano in 189 years, but the one in Iceland was much bigger. I can understand how that must have felt – pretty frightening.
I want these eruptions to end, so I can get back to my normal life.