Mount Aso (阿蘇山) is Kyushu’s most famous volcano and symbol of the prefecture as the “Land of Fire”. The national park contains huge forests, beautful lakes and some superb hot spings. The crater basin the the largest of it’s kind in the world, at 25km in length and 18km in width.
Various walks around the area and crater are sometimes available. Also worth seeing is the Aso Super Ring (Adults 500 yen, Children 250 yen) at the bottom of ropeway, which explains how the volcano was formed and its violent, dramatic history. Check at the Tourist Information Center when you arrive as walking routes and the Aso Super Ring are sometimes not open due to volcanic activity.
Get a view of the volcanic activity in this still active volcano, with smoke still exiting in the distance!
Note that the crater of Mount Aso is sometimes closed. Check here for updates before you book a trip.
Budget travel tips
- Check out nearby Kurokawa Onsen on your way east, especially if you have the discount SUNQ pass.
- From Aso station, you can take the bus to Asozan Nishi (40 mins, 540 yen), then the ropeway up (600 yen). The adventurous may be able to walk instead and save on ropeway tickets, so ask at the Tourist Information Center for latest accessible routes.
How to get there
With the Japan Rail Pass or Kyushu Rail passes
From Kumamoto, take a Limited Express “Kyushu Oudan Tokkyu” to Aso station (1 hour).
Without a rail pass
From Kumamoto, take a local train on the JR Hohi line to Aso station (90 mins, 1080 yen). You can also take a bus covered by the SUNQ pass.
Hostels and cheap hotels
Aso Youth Hostel
The local YHA, with super cheap rooms from 2000 yen. Book at the official YHA site.
One stop down from Aso station, this reasonably priced ryokan (Japanese style hotel) has large, traditional rooms. Book online at Booking.com.
More at Booking.com
Image courtesy of awayukin