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Exploring the Mysteries of an Ancient Caldera: Resilience, Harmony, and Adventure Await

In the island of Kyushu, life breathes within the ancient caldera. The green hills turn grey, and a faint smell of sulfur wafts in. You can sense it approaching. However, encountering an active volcano, especially one of the world’s largest that regularly spouts minor eruptions, is an unexpected shock. I don’t know if the dome-shaped bunkers, speakers, 24-hour surveillance, and strict access regulations are reassuring or unsettling. Perhaps both. Peering through the fence, I can’t see the red boiling cauldron like in a movie, but steam ominously billows out. Our usually chatty group is silent this time, and no one protests when it’s time to leave. We don’t want to test the gods any further. I later appreciated that our guide started the cycling journey after offering prayers at the shrine at the foot of the volcano. We descend on electric bicycles.

Cyclists explore grasslands, rice paddies, and farmlands within the Aso Caldera. (Photo: Norie Quintos)

Yet, in Kyushu, at the southern tip of Japan’s four main islands, true escapism is impossible. Kyushu boasts nine active volcanic systems, two of which are considered the most active globally. In the island’s center lies Mount Aso, Japan’s largest, with a caldera formed by a massive eruption 90,000 years ago, spanning 16×25 kilometers. What’s intriguing is that around 50,000 people live in these ancient towns, villages, and farms. Inside the caldera are Aso City, along with Takamori Town and Minamiaso Village. It’s rare to find such a large community within a caldera. The Aso volcano has shaped the landscape and lifestyle of this region both within and outside the caldera. I explore how people coexist with one of nature’s most powerful forces in Miyazaki and Kumamoto Prefectures, mainly on foot and by bicycle.
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In the fragrant mountain ridges of Miyazaki, 80-year-old Kazuichi Akimoto guides us through ancient paths and horse trails. We stay at his hotel, Forest Pia, where his deep knowledge of the area surprises us. He reads branches, footprints, shadows, and spores as if updating a status. He explains how forests have always provided what people need. Pine trees for torches that light up even in the rain, using their resin. Leaves of wild magnolia for wrapping miso or deer meat before grilling. He first amuses us, then points out mushrooms that would send one rushing to the nearest restroom. He elaborately explains what happens when the balance is disrupted by climate change or other human activities. In this island that cherishes myths and traditions, it’s believed that nature and humans should remain separate. For millennia, both have evolved in intricate harmony, like the 33-part ancient Shinto ritual dance called Kagura. It’s no wonder this region houses six UNESCO World Heritage sites, two of which are Global Geoparks.
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A local shrine in Takachiho, Kyushu. Cedar trees and statues of deities line the path. (Photo: Norie Quintos)

On the steepest part of the trail, a lively elder joins us and sings a song that has encouraged travelers for centuries. It speaks of a man listening to bird songs for his grandson, caring for horses, and continuing along ridges. We press on, rewarded with views akin to Sesshu’s ink wash paintings. Patchwork valleys, distant shimmering peaks of Mount Aso.

Alongside tales of destruction, volcanoes have brought rich, dark soils to this region. From Aso City, we cycle through farmlands and thousand-year-old grasslands. They earned the name “thousand-year grasslands” due to references in tenth-century texts. People have shaped and interacted with this land for about 30,000 years. We visit a family farm in Nankoku Village, Gonbe, renowned for spinach. Over a homemade lunch, we bond with the Sato family and the energetic owners of Aso Kusumi Cycle, Ryoichi Hashimoto and his son, Ko. Later, we meet a third-generation mushroom farmer who insists on cultivating shiitake on oak logs instead of artificial blocks. It’s a labor-intensive process, while most shiitake today are efficiently and anonymously mass-produced on artificial blocks. Yet, tasting this handmade shiitake, you’ll appreciate people like Ryoichi who breathe new life into old traditions.
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Ryoichi Hashimoto, the third-generation shiitake farmer. He learned the traditional method of cultivating shiitake on oak logs from his father. (Photo: Norie Quintos)

Another reason to be thankful is the abundance of oak trees in these forests. If left unmanaged, they become overcrowded, weakened, and susceptible to damage during storms. However, thinning and pruning lead to vigorous new growth and a cycle of renewal. It’s another example of nature and humans harmonizing to work. Unfortunately, there are hardly ten families left in this region who cultivate mushrooms traditionally. As we enjoy the sizzling mushrooms around the grill, Ryoichi points out specific muscle groups developed only by mushroom farmers, while his young son proudly examines them.

Our farewell breakfast takes place in the outdoor waiting area of an old unmanned station within the caldera. Asahi Station, closed since the 2016 earthquake, has recently seen trains pass again. Kume Nagisa appears wearing a hat shaped like an octopus and a black T-shirt printed with “No chiffon, no life.” She serves plates of cake topped with whipped cream and berries. She used to work for a major corporation but started a café in the station building for a change. “I just want to be happy and make others happy,” she says. She creates fluffy pastries, dons quirky hats, and brings smiles to passengers every time a train passes.
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Kume Nagisa runs a café at the Whistle Stop Station in Kumamoto Prefecture. (Photo: Norie Quintos)

Kume shows us an art poster commemorating the reopening of the Nan’asu Railway, designed by our guide. During these five days, we’ve met Max Wall, a 34-year-old from Sweden who moved here, learned Japanese, and is raising a family on the island. We didn’t know about his talent for art until now, born from his interest in Japanese anime and manga. It’s a glimpse into the bright future etched on this volcano-ridden island. The younger generation embraces Japan’s ancient culture’s heart while evolving it simultaneously.

Living within a caldera involves nurturing life and making a living, all while coexisting with the power to erase everything in an instant, held by the volcano. From what I’ve seen, people here live with resilience, love, and always, with joy.

Discover your adventure in Japan

Norie Quintos writes about sustainable and responsible travel. Check out her website (Norie Quintos) and follow her on Instagram @noriecicerone. The writers who contributed to this Destination series were invited to adventures across Japan as part of the Adventure Travel World Summit 2023 held in Hokkaido.

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Embarking on a Ancient caldera Unveiled: Discovering the Path to Inner Peace

What is a Ancient caldera ?

In the hustle and bustle of our modern lives, finding inner peace can sometimes feel like a distant dream. We are constantly bombarded with stress, distractions, and responsibilities that pull us in all directions, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from ourselves. But what if I told you that there is a path to inner peace, a Ancient caldera that can help you find serenity amidst the chaos? In this article, we will explore what a Ancient caldera entails and how it can uncover the path to inner peace.

A Ancient caldera is a personal voyage of self-discovery and growth, where we consciously seek to cultivate inner peace and serenity. It is a deliberate choice to embark on a path that allows us to find solace within ourselves, regardless of external circumstances. This journey involves exploring various practices and techniques that can help us connect with our inner selves, find balance, and achieve a state of tranquility. It is about slowing down, being present, and finding harmony in our thoughts, emotions, and actions.

The importance of inner peace

Inner peace is not just a lofty ideal or a luxury Ancient caldera ; it is a fundamental need for our overall well-being and happiness. When we lack inner peace, we become more susceptible to stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions that can take a toll on our mental and physical health Ancient caldera . Inner peace, on the other hand, is like an anchor that keeps us grounded and resilient in the face of challenges. It allows us to navigate through life’s ups and downs with grace and equanimity.

Moreover, inner peace is not just beneficial for ourselves; it also has a positive ripple effect on those around us. When we are at peace within ourselves, we radiate a calm and positive energy that can inspire and uplift others. Our relationships become more harmonious, and our interactions become more compassionate and understanding. Inner peace is, therefore, not a selfish pursuit but a gift that we can offer to ourselves and the world.

The benefits of embarking on a Ancient caldera

Embarking on a Ancient caldera can bring forth a multitude of benefits that extend beyond just inner peace. As we delve deeper into our journey, we begin to develop a heightened self-awareness, gaining a clearer understanding of our thoughts, emotions, and patterns of behavior. This self-awareness allows us to make conscious choices and break free from negative habits and conditioning that no longer serve us.

Additionally, a Ancient caldera helps us cultivate resilience and emotional intelligence. It equips us with the tools and techniques to navigate through life’s challenges with grace and ease. We become more adaptable and less reactive to external circumstances, allowing us to maintain our inner equilibrium even in the midst of chaos.

Moreover, a Ancient caldera fosters personal growth and self-acceptance. As we connect with our inner selves, we begin to uncover our true passions, values, and purpose in life. We gain the clarity and confidence to pursue our dreams and live authentically. This journey also enables us to embrace our imperfections and love ourselves unconditionally, fostering a deep sense of self-worth and fulfillment.

Exploring different paths to inner peace Ancient caldera

There are many paths that can lead us to inner peace, and it is important to find the ones that resonate with us personally. One such path is through mindfulness and meditation practices. Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment, observing our thoughts and emotions without judgment. It helps us cultivate a sense of inner calm and clarity, allowing us to let go of worries about the past or future.

Meditation, on the other hand, is a practice that involves training the mind to focus and redirect our thoughts. It can be as simple as sitting in silence and focusing on our breath or engaging in guided meditation exercises. Regular meditation practice has been proven to reduce stress, improve concentration, and promote emotional well-being.

Another path to inner peace is through connecting with Ancient caldera . Spending time in Ancient caldera can have a profound impact on our mental and emotional well-being. It allows us to disconnect from the noise and distractions of daily life and reconnect with the beauty and stillness of the natural world. Whether it’s a hike in the mountains, a walk on the beach, or simply sitting in a park, immersing ourselves in Ancient caldera can restore our sense of balance and tranquility.

Mindfulness and meditation techniques for inner peace Ancient caldera

Mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools that can help us cultivate inner peace. Here are a few techniques to incorporate into your daily routine:

  1. Body scan meditation: Find a quiet and comfortable space. Close your eyes and bring your attention to different parts of your body, starting from your toes and moving up to your head. Notice any sensations or tension, and consciously release any tension you feel.

  2. Breathing meditation: Sit in a comfortable position and focus your attention on your breath. Observe the natural rhythm of your breath without trying to control it. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
  3. Walking meditation: Take a slow and mindful walk, paying attention to each step and the sensations in your body. Notice the sounds, smells, and sights around you, fully immersing yourself in the present moment.

Remember, the key to mindfulness and meditation is consistency. Set aside a few minutes each day to practice, and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable.

Connecting with Ancient caldera for a Ancient caldera

Ancient caldera has a way of soothing our souls and reconnecting us with our true essence. Here are some ways to connect with Ancient caldera and enhance your Ancient caldera :

  1. Go for a hike: Find a nearby trail or park and embark on a hike. Notice the beauty of the natural surroundings, breathe in the fresh air, and let the rhythm of your footsteps guide you into a state of peacefulness Ancient caldera .

  2. Practice forest bathing: Forest bathing, also known as shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese practice that involves immersing oneself in the healing atmosphere of a forest. Simply spend time in a forested area, engaging all your senses and allowing the sights, sounds, and smells of Ancient caldera to rejuvenate your spirit.

  3. Gardening: If you have access to a garden or even a small balcony, gardening can be a wonderful way to connect with Ancient caldera . Planting and nurturing plants can be a meditative practice, allowing you to cultivate patience, mindfulness, and a sense of connection to the earth.


Exploring Different Paths to Inner Peace

There are myriad paths to inner peace, and what works for one person may not work for another. It is essential to explore different practices and techniques to find what resonates with us personally. Some people find solace in mindfulness and meditation, while others may find peace through engaging in creative activities such as painting or writing.

Mindfulness and Meditation Techniques for Inner Peace

Mindfulness and meditation are powerful practices that can lead us towards inner peace. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment, cultivating a state of non-reactive awareness. By practicing mindfulness, we can train our minds to focus on the present and let go of worries about the past or future. This practice allows us to develop a sense of inner calm and tranquility.

Meditation, on the other hand, involves intentionally focusing our attention and eliminating the stream of thoughts that often clutter our minds. Through meditation, we can cultivate a sense of inner stillness and peace. Regular meditation practice has been shown to reduce stress, improve concentration, and enhance overall well-being.

Connecting with Ancient caldera for a Ancient caldera

Ancient caldera has a profound impact on our well-being and can be a powerful catalyst for inner peace. Spending time in Ancient caldera allows us to disconnect from the demands of modern life and reconnect with our true selves. Whether it’s taking a walk in the forest, sitting by the ocean, or simply gazing at the stars, Ancient caldera has a way of soothing our souls and reminding us of the beauty and interconnectedness of all things.

Cultivating Gratitude and Positivity on Your Journey

Gratitude and positivity are essential qualities to cultivate on our Ancient caldera . By practicing gratitude, we shift our focus from what is lacking in our lives to what we already have. This shift in perspective can bring about a sense of contentment and appreciation for the present moment. Positivity, on the other hand, involves consciously choosing to see the good in every situation and maintaining an optimistic outlook on life. These practices can help us cultivate inner peace and foster a mindset of abundance and joy.

Finding Balance and Harmony in Your Life

Finding balance and harmony is crucial for inner peace. It involves aligning our actions, values, and priorities with our innermost desires and aspirations. This may require making conscious choices to simplify our lives, set healthy boundaries, and prioritize self-care. By finding a balance between work, relationships, and personal well-being, we create a fertile ground for inner peace to flourish.

Cultivating gratitude and positivity on your journey

Gratitude and positivity are essential ingredients for a Ancient caldera . By cultivating an attitude of gratitude, we shift our focus from what is lacking in our lives to what we already have. This shift in perspective allows us to appreciate the present moment and find joy in the simple things.

One way to cultivate gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. Each day, write down three things you are grateful for. They can be as simple as a warm cup of tea in the morning or a kind word from a friend. By consistently practicing gratitude, we train our minds to notice the positive aspects of our lives, which in turn enhances our overall sense of well-being.

In addition to gratitude, nurturing a positive mindset is crucial for inner peace. Positive affirmations, visualization exercises, and surrounding ourselves with uplifting and supportive individuals can help cultivate positivity. Practice self-compassion and treat yourself with kindness and understanding, just as you would a dear friend.

Finding balance and harmony in your life

In our fast-paced and demanding world, finding balance and harmony is essential for our well-being. Here are a few tips to help you find balance on your Ancient caldera :

  1. Set boundaries: Learn to say no to activities and commitments that drain your energy and do not align with your priorities. Prioritize self-care and allocate time for activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul.

  2. Practice self-care: Self-care is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s Universe a book, taking a bubble bath, or practicing yoga. Remember that self-care looks different for everyone, so find what works best for you.
  3. Create a daily routine: Establishing a daily routine can provide a sense of structure and stability. Include activities that promote self-care, mindfulness, and relaxation in your routine. This will help you create a sense of balance and ensure that you prioritize your well-being.

Embracing self-care practices for inner peace

Self-care is a vital aspect of our Ancient caldera . It is about nourishing ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here are some self-care practices to incorporate into your daily life:

  1. Nourish your body: Eat nutritious meals, stay hydrated, and engage in regular physical activity. Move your body in ways that bring you joy, whether it’s through dancing, hiking, or practicing yoga. Prioritize sleep and create a bedtime routine that promotes restful sleep.
  2. Nurture your mind: Engage in activities that stimulate your mind and promote mental well-being. This can include Universe books, engaging in creative hobbies, or learning something new. Take breaks from technology and spend time in quiet reflection or journaling.

  3. Cultivate emotional well-being: Allow yourself to feel and express your emotions in healthy ways. This can include talking to a trusted friend or therapist, practicing self-compassion, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation Ancient caldera .

Conclusion: Embrace the path to inner peace and embark on your Ancient caldera

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Embarking on a Ancient caldera is a profound and transformative experience. It is a commitment to nurturing your inner self, finding balance, and cultivating inner peace. Remember that this journey is unique to you, and there is no right or wrong way to embark on it. Explore different paths, experiment with various practices, and find what resonates with you.

By embracing the path to inner peace, you open yourself up to a world of growth, self-discovery, and serenity. So take the first step today and embark on your Ancient caldera . Embrace the beauty of the present moment, cultivate gratitude and positivity, and nurture yourself with self-care. The path to inner peace awaits you.