At lunchtime, on March 28, 2000, nearby Usu-zan exploded and shot a 10,000 foot-high cloud of ash and smoke into the skies over the quiet resort town of Toya-ko Onsen near the southeastern shore of Hokkaido. Shortly after the 16,000 residents were evacuated, earth tremors cracked open the highway and ash flows engulfed the outskirts of town. Today, Usu-zan smolders as a reminder of its destructive history. Take the cable car to the rim of Usu-zan for spectacular views of the Usu-zan crater, Toya-ko and the ocean. In 1943, near Usu-zan, a surprised wheat farmer found a lava dome growing out of his wheat field. Today, this lava dome has grown into Showa-shin-zan, a 1,300 foot high steaming ‚Äúparasite volcano‚ÄĚ. The Volcano Science Musuem, with its displays of smashed cars and heat-mangled kitchen appliances, is a testament to the 2000 eruption. A walk along the Nishiyama Crater Trail among the steaming fissures, bubbling azure ponds and the crushed and mangled homes and cars is an impressive scene and reminder of what can happen when you live next door to a volcano. In the evening, head for the lake‚Äôs shoreline to see the 400 fireworks displayed over the lake.