The Town Where Everyone Wears A Gas Mask

Miyakejima The Gas Mask Town

The age old adage, “Home is where the heart is,” finds its true meaning in Miyakejima, a small island located in southeast Japan. Despite the high level of volcanic activity that causes poisonous gas to leak from the earth and forced 3,600 island residents to evacuate in 2000, some residents just can’t stay away. Thus the self-appointed gas mask town rose from the ashes.

The Town Where Everyone Wears A Gas Mask

Eruption of Volcano Oyama in Miyakejima Photo

Resting atop a chain of volcanoes, Miyakejima is a hub for volcanic activity. For the past century, the volcanoes have erupted six times. The worst of these occurred in June 2000 when, after a repose of 17 years, Mount Oyama erupted. 17,500 earthquakes followed the eruption, which hit the island between June 26 and July 21.

Eruption of Mount Oyama in Miyakejima Japan Picture

During the assault of eruptions and earthquakes, ash plumes soaring 10 miles high enveloped Miyakejima, and heavy ash fall alongside crater collapses. The disaster also led to high levels of toxic sulfur dioxide regularly leaking up through the ground, making 20% of the land uninhabitable. After three months, the government took action and forced a mass evacuation in September.

Miyakejima Panorama Photograph

Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox is the Managing Editor of All That Is Interesting. A graduate student in New York, Savannah enjoys all things musical and political.
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