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Native name: Japanese: 口永良部島
Kuchinoerabujima island from Mt.Nagatadake.jpg
Kuchinoerabu-jima from Nagatadake on Yakushima
Location East China Sea
Coordinates 30°28′N 130°11′E / 30.467°N 130.183°E / 30.467; 130.183
Archipelago Osumi Islands
Area 38.04 km2 (14.69 sq mi)
Length 12 km (7.5 mi)
Width 5 km (3.1 mi)
Coastline 49.67 km (30.864 mi)
Highest elevation 657 m (2,156 ft)
Highest point Furudake
Kagoshima Prefecture
Population 147 (2010)
Ethnic groups Japanese

Kuchinoerabu-jima (口永良部島), is one of the Satsunan Islands, usually classed with the Ōsumi Islands belonging to Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. The island, 38.04 km² in area, has a population of 147. The island can only be reached by boat as it has no airport. There are regular ferry service with Yakushima, which is about 15 km to the east. Travel time is approximately 1 hour. The islanders are dependent mainly on fishing, agriculture and seasonal tourism. The entire island is within the borders of the Kirishima-Yaku National Park.


Kuchinoerabu-jima is located 130 kilometres (70 nmi) south of Kagoshima. The island is of volcanic origin, and has an area of approximately 38 square kilometres (15 sq mi) with a length of 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) and width of 5 kilometres (3.1 mi). The highest elevations on the island are Furudake (古岳), with a height of 657 metres (2,156 ft) and Shindake (新岳), with a height of 640 metres (2,100 ft) above sea level. There are numerous hot springs on the island.

Relief Map
Shindake Crater
Eruption 2015

The island is an active volcano which has erupted several times during the modern period, including 24 December 1933, when several people were killed when lava masses buried several villages. In 1980, multiple explosion craters appeared along an 800-metre (2,600 ft) north-south fissure on the slope east of Shindake. Shindake erupted again on 4 August 2014, generating a pyroclastic flow, but with no injuries or fatalities.[1] The main crater erupted on the morning of 29 May 2015, prompting a level 5 alert level. Efforts to evacuate all persons from the island occurred.[2]

The island’s climate is classified as subtropical, with a rainy season from May through September.


During the Edo period, Kuchinoerabu-jima was ruled by the Shimazu clan of Satsuma Domain and was considered part of Ōsumi Province. Following the Meiji restoration, it was administered as Kuchinoerabujima Village, which encompassed part of Yakushima. It is now part of the city of Yakushima, Kagoshima.

Kuchinoerabu-jima is the last known location of missing American poet Craig Arnold, who was visiting the island in April 2009, doing research for a book on volcanos.[3]

Volcanic eruptions of Mount Shindake[edit]

On May 29, 2015 an eruption sent an ash cloud to an estimated 30,000 feet (9,100 meters) into the sky.[4] No deaths and only one minor injury have so far been reported by Japan's government. Shindake is a classic stratovolcano, or cone-shaped volcano, formed from alternating layers of lava flows and fragmented deposits. The eruption was expected, on May 18 Japanese scientists detected increased seismic activity and steam rising from the volcano's crater. The island’s 140 residents have been evacuated by Japan’s coast guard. Previous eruptions occurred in August 2014 and 1980.[5][6][7]



  • Siebert, Lee. Volcanoes of the World. University of California Press. (2008) ISBN 978-0-520-26877-7
  • Reed, Christina. Earth Science Decade by Decade. Infobase Publishing (2008) ISBN 0816055335

External links[edit]