A mysterious geyser that erupted in the middle of a forest on the Japanese island of Hokkaido has been shooting up columns of water up to 40-meters-high for the past couple of weeks.
Every year, on August 9, the small Japanese town of Oshamambe holds an annual summer festival complete with a traditional procession at the local Shinto shrine. However, this year’s festival has been overshadowed by an unusual occurrence a day before the event, when a huge geyser erupted in the middle of the shrine grounds’ forest. Locals woke up to a steady roar, a column of water shooting up above the tree canopy, and the unmistakable smell of sulfur in the air. The mysterious geyser has been shooting up water for the past couple of weeks and is showing no signs of slowing down.
The mysterious geyser of Oshamambe has been interpreted as an omen by the more religious locals, but the phenomenon most likely has a scientific explanation. The water gushing out of the ground at impressive speed has a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit), a greyish color and samples analyzed by scientists contain sediment. All these factors suggest that the geyser is powered by a hot spring beneath the Oshamambe shrine.
For the past two weeks, many curious travelers have been flocking to Oshamambe to see the geyser in person. It is indeed a sight to behold, as the water column continues to shoot over the top of the forest it appeared in. The huge jet of water can allegedly be seen from miles away, and it’s reportedly so strong that the trees right next to it have been completely stripped of foliage.
While the geyser may have become somewhat of an attraction for tourists, some of the locals in Oshamambe already consider it a nuisance. The constant roar of the geyser and the smell of sulfur in the air means that many people can no longer open their windows, and the increased ambient humidity due to the water sprayed into the air makes it impossible to hang up laundry.
It’s now been two weeks since the geyser popped up in the forest outside Oshamambe, and it has yet to lose any steam. It’s still as strong as it was on the first day, and no one really knows how long the rare natural phenomenon is going to last.