This Day In HIistory: A Volcano In Japan Erupts (1888)

This day in history in 1888 the Bandai volcano erupted on the Japanese island of Honshu. It was one of the largest eruptions of a volcano in Japan in modern times.  Honshu, the main island of the Japanese homeland is known for its volcanic activity. Earthquakes and volcanos have caused many tragedies on that island for centuries.  Usually, earthquakes cause death and destruction but on this occasion, it was a volcano.

Painting of the eruption of Mt Bandai

The Bandai volcano is a mountain in northern Honshu and had erupted some four times in the previous millennium. However, none of these were ever that deadly or destructive and not many of the local people who lived in and around the volcano were particularly fearful that it would erupt. However, the eruption in 1888 was to be unusually violent and it produced a huge amount of burning mud.  At the time there was no early warning system available to warn the local population of the dangers that they faced and that eruption was to catch them all unawares.

Mt Bandai from Lake Inawashiro

In the early morning  of July 15, strange rumblings woke some people.  They did not realise that the volcano was going to erupt. Half an hour later the volcano erupted with fury sending lava and rocks into the air and raining them down onto the surrounding countryside. Fifteen minutes later, there was another explosion and other followed.  The volcano gave out a cloud of ash that was estimated to have been as much as 20,000 feet high. This giant cloud sent burning mud over the volcano’s vicinity. The tremors from the eruption cause landslides that buried houses and roads. At a local spa debris up to 100 feet covered everything. It is not known how many people were killed here but some believe that many were killed, one hundred bodies were later recovered and some more are believed to have been obliterated by the burning mud.

No one knows how many people lost their lives in the eruption.  At this time there are no real emergency services  and the local people did not receive much help from the central government.

The best estimate is that over 460 people had died and hundreds of others seriously injured. The land around the volcano was devastated and much of the land was covered in debris and a terrible burning mud. This mud was so hot that it caused terrible burns.  It is estimated that some 100 people were burned by the burning mud. The eruption left a 7,000- foot crater in the earth, that can still be seen today. Scientists believe that  the ash from Bandai dimmed the sun around the globe.