Kuchinoerabujima – University of Wyoming Professor Missing in Japan

May 1, 2009

CNN reports that American Poet and University of Wyoming Professor Craig Arnold is missing after setting out alone to climb a volcano known as Kuchinoerabujima.

The CNN article above mentions that Arnold was on a fellowship in Japan doing research for a book on volcanoes.

Not much is mentioned about Kuchinoerabujima (or Kuchinoerabu Island). The island is a popular spot for fishing, and hot spring resorts (thanks to the volcanic activity). The volcano last erupted in 1933. It is a stratovolcano (also called composite volcano), the same type as Mt. Fuji. Several small active volcanoes make up the island, including Shindake which is said to still belt out smoke. There have been a few

There is a junior high school on the island with a total of two students. There is also reportedly a gas station.

It sounds like a great place to visit for some hiking, fishing, and then chilling out in a nice hot spring onsen. I sincerely hope Professor Arnold is OK up there and just hanging out on Shindake looking down into the crater thinking up some cool poems. The CNN article seems to imply he’s an experienced adventurer so I hope its another overreaction by Japanese authorities.


1 Brean Arnold May 2, 2009 at 12:27 am

Hello, this is Brean Arnold, Craig’s cousin. Thank you for reporting on this story. I do feel the need to clarify- as much as we want Craig to be up there inspired and writing poetry, we know this is not the case. He has a system in place with his partner that if he is out of touch in Japan for more than 48 hours, something is wrong. Therefore we greatly appreciate the efforts of both the Japanese and American governments in searching for Craig- lots of people are on the ground working to ensure Craig’s safe return. The response from the U.S. government and from the Japanese authorities have been overwhelmingly positive and we are incredibly grateful for their expanded and extended efforts. Our prayers and thanks are with them as they search.

2 jay May 2, 2009 at 1:38 am

Thanks for writing, Brean. I’ve seen other blogs in Japan picking up the story as well, though there’s not much we can do. I sincerely hope things work out, and I’m glad to hear the authorities are cooperating. My family and I are praying for everyone involved.

3 jay May 5, 2009 at 4:05 am

A new story on CNN points out that Professor Arnold’s Facebook account was accessed, but the article says there is no mobile phone access on the island, but this is incorrect. The official homepage of the island says that if a cell phone is on the docomo system it should have access almost anywhere on the island, and that softbank and au kddi phones have access in some places and times, but not others. It is also possible that the homepage only refers to residential areas.

This information is on the Japanese version of Yakushima Town’s homepage. Here is a link to the English version of Yakushima Town’s homepage.

4 DJ May 7, 2009 at 11:11 am

Wow i never knew that. I hope they find him. Good luck.

5 jay May 7, 2009 at 1:30 pm

The news is getting picked up in a lot of places now… I think it’s become a privately funded search by now.