One of only two active volcanoes in the Chugoku region, Mt. Sanbe last erupted about 4,000 years ago. Several peaks surround the basin, and the volcano is the source of many excellent volcanic hot springs, including the popular Sanbe Onsen. Mt. Sanbe features in ancient Japanese mythology. The eighth-century Izumo no Kuni Fudoki describes a “Land-Pulling Myth” in which a native god who believed his kingdom to be too small used Mt. Sanbe and Mt. Daisen as stakes to anchor some extra pieces of land he pulled in from offshore.
The grasslands of Mt. Sanbe are maintained by an annual burning, called hi-ire, that encourages the sprouting of new grass. Mt. Sanbe’s landscapes change dramatically with the seasons, making the mountain an interesting place to visit throughout the year. Visitors especially enjoy the thousands of rabbit-ear irises (Iris laevigata) that bloom at Himenogaike Pond at the northern foot of Mt. Sanbe in early summer. At the Sanbe Azukihara Buried Forest Museum is a miraculously preserved ancient forest, still standing, frozen in time at the moment it was buried underground during Mt. Sanbe’s last eruption over 4,000 years ago.