Mt. Sensui Green Road Scenic Drive and Hike
Time Required: 57 min. Distance: 9 km
A driving course from the rippling Japanese pampas grass to the volcanoes of Kuju.
Take a drive through the swaying fields of Japanese pampas grass on the highland at the foot of Mt. Sensui. The steaming volcanic scenery and geothermal power plants along the road convey a sense of the energy that rests beneath the land.
Once you leave Chojabaru, with its Tadewara Marsh, and drive down the Sensui Green Road that bypasses the foot of Mt. Sensui, Mt. Waita comes into view. This mountain is also known as Oguni Fuji for its resemblance to Mt. Fuji. Pass through the hot spring resort area of Sujiyu and you arrive at Komatsujigoku. Park up and then walk along the path for about 20 minutes until you arrive at a spot where you will feel “the pulse of the planet” as steam spews upward from the earth. Return to the parking lot and travel for several minutes to the Hatchobaru Geothermal Power Plant. This immense, steam-spewing installation boasts Japan's largest-scale generation of geothermal power.
In his novel Namichidori (the sequel to The Thousand Cranes), Nobel Prize-winning author Yasunari Kawabata likened the Handa Plateau to a beautiful dream world. After the grassland burning in spring, wildflowers blossom across the grassland in full glory. Around May, the greenery thickens, and the ground turns into full pasture. Around October, waves of shining golden Japanese pampas grass ears create a beautiful pastoral scene.
Komatsujigoku (Hell of Komatsu)
The steam that spews from the ground and the hot mud that erupts with a distinctive bubbling sound are reminders of the intense activity at the core of the Earth. The area has a wooden walking path, as well as a spot where visitors can bring eggs to boil in a pool of gushing hot water.
Hatchobaru Geothermal Power Plant
This geothermal power installation generates electricity using the hot steam that spews from beneath the ground. Entry into the exhibit hall is free of charge. Visitors can get a feel of the energy of nature and how geothermal power generation works from the displays and by touring the facility.