Like a scene from a sci-fi movie, volcanic steam vents and larva pools punctuate the lunar landscape.
In the shadow of one of Japan's most active volcanoes sits the onsen resort of Unzen, surrounded by bubbling hot spring fields or ?hells'. Here you can feel the force of the volcano; the barren rocky landscape is pock-marked with billowing steam vents, mud holes and gushing springs of milky, acidic liquid. The smell of sulphur often fills the air and steamy mists roll across the town's main street; you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd wandered on to the set of a sci-fi movie.
There are onsen baths fit for human use in the town's modern ryokan hotels; the most popular reason for visiting Unzen. The spring water has to be cooled down as it leaves the ground before you can take a bath.
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If you're an adventurous traveller who wants to discover a side of Japan rarely seen by outsiders, this itinerary could be the one for you.
Stand in the shade of a thousand-year-old Japanese cedar, visit a Bond villain's lair on an abandoned island and investigate a volcanic caldera lake on this spectacular exploration of Japan's rural south-western region.