Since Showa Shinzan came into being in the midst of World War II, Japanese authorities tried to hush it up and even urged the locals to douse the volcanic flames (they didn't) so that Allied aircraft couldn't use them for orientation.
Today, Showa Shinzan has become a tourist destination and visitors can take a cable car up the neighboring and much larger Mount Usu for panoramic views of Showa Shinzan, Lake Toya and the Pacific Ocean. Mount Usu is also an active volcano, with its most recent eruptions in 1977 and in 2000.Above is an apartment building damaged during a mudflow caused by the 2000 eruption. We are looking at the second floor, as the first was buried in mud. The damage caused to the corner of the building was caused by a huge steel highway bridge that was carried into the building by the mudflow.
Showa Shinzan seen from the higher Mt. Usu
A smoking crater on the side of Mt. Usu, above the Pacific Ocean
Also at Showa Shinzan I visited an Ainu museum, which consisted of a replica of a traditional Ainu house complete with Ainu tools, clothing, and arts and crafts.
The docent, a woman who is half Ainu and half Japanese, dressed me in Ainu clothing and took my picture, and gave me a gift of a beautifully embroidered tissue case.
The Ainu are the original inhabitants of Hokkaido, northern Honshu and Sakhalin, an island which now belongs to Russia. Compared with other Japanese, the Ainu have rounder eyes, lighter skin and more facial hair, and some people believe they come from Caucasian origins.