One of Japan's most active volcanoes, Sakurajima, has erupted in the southwest of the country and coated a nearby city with a layer of ash.
 
Massive ash falls made the area look as if was snowing at night and railway operators stopped service in Kagoshima temporarily so ash could be removed from the tracks.

Ash wafted as high as 5km above Sakurajima in Kagoshima on Sunday afternoon, forming the highest plume since the Japan Meteorological Agency started keeping records in 2006.

Lava flowed about 1km from the fissure, with several huge volcanic rocks rolling down the mountainside.

On Monday the city started mobilising garbage vehicles and water sprinklers to clean up.

No injuries or damage have been reported.

Business largely returned to normal in Kagoshima, a city of 600,000 people living only 10km from the volcano, whose eruptions are part of their daily life.

Japan Meteorological Agency says there are no signs of a larger eruption at Sakurajima but similar activity may continue.

Japan is on the Pacific Ring of Fire and has frequent seismic activity.

Source: Agencies