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Japan’s beautiful mountainous scenery and relaxing hot springs are all thanks to volcanic activity, and even today there are still a handful of active peaks to be found in the country. One of the most famous, Kyushu’s Mt. Aso, is even a popular tourist destination. We don’t recommend visiting today, though, because the 1,592-meter (5,223-foot) volcano is currently erupting, as seen in these photos taken by locals.

There are actually five connected peaks that are collectively referred to as Mt. Aso: Taka, Nakadake, Eboshi, Kijima, and Neko. Japan’s Meteorological Agency reports that at 9:49 on the morning of September 14, Nakadake began erupting, and soon after Japanese Twitter users began posting pictures that show just how much smoke and ash are spraying forth from the mountain.

Mt. Aso sits in the middle of Aso Kuju National Park, which straddles the border between Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures. The park is a popular destination for travelers and nature-lovers who come to see the volcano’s gigantic caldera, but access to the crater itself is often restricted within a one-kilometer (0.6-mile) radius.

▼ A photo taken from Kumamoto City shows the eruption rising from the left side of the horizon.

As debris continue to billow from Nakadake, the Meteorological Agency has issued a Level 3 volcanic alert, and has extended the no-access perimeter to include roads and areas within a four-kilometer (2.5-mile) radius. Thankfully, due to the buffer provided by the surrounding park, no homes or schools are included within the area, and no evacuations have been issued, nor have there been any reports so far of injuries or damage.

Nevertheless, local and travelers are advised to steer clear of the area until the volcanic activity settles down.

Related: Aso Volcanic Center
Sources: NHK News Web (1, 2, 3), Jin, Hachima Kiko, Aso Volcanic Center
Top image: Twitter/@psakanq