Mount Aso is the largest active volcano in Kyushu, Japan, and is among the largest in the world. It’s located in The recent volcanic eruption stopped flights and travel tours, and scientists even suspected that the eruption might affect global weather. In fact, an Eruption Alert of Mount Aso has been hoisted since about a year ago, and some tourist attractions such as the services of Mt. Aso Ropeway have been suspended due to safety reasons. At the time I arrived at Mt Aso, we couldn’t take the ropeway to the mountain top. However, we enjoyed a gorgeous sunny day in the Aso area with only a few degrees Celsius. The entire rural area was so peaceful and quiet. I love it.
We had a few route changes at the planning stage of our mini-North Kyushu road trip. We thought about Beppu, Saga; then Oita was in the picture… interestingly, one place never changes: Mount Aso had always remained as our “must-see” highlight in our itinerary. Another fantastic find would be the hot-spring resort in Minami (Southern) Aso that has INDIVIDUAL, OUTDOOR, IN-ROOM, PRIVATE hot spring at an incredible price that’s hard to believe!!
Stay-tuned 🙂 —- My route of the day in Aso:
…>>> (Day 0) Car rental (Kumamoto JR station) > we left Kumamoto and drove around Miyazaki that day > we arrived hot spring resort in Minami Aso in the evening before dinner > (Day 1) Aso road trip begins! > Mount Aso (Mount Aso Station) > Kusasenrigahama > Daikanbo > Aso-boy train (Aso JR Station) > Fukuoka
Without revisiting all the ups-and-downs of my time, just to share a few highlights!
Ticketing: The ropeway service is currently suspended
How did I get there: Drive, but Trans-Kyushu regular sightseeing bus is also available
There is horseback riding everywhere in the world, yet somehow it is a signature activity in Aso. Let just say this place is beautiful (and much more economical) for those who plan to enjoy a fun time with horses (I like animals, and the ranch is so damn close to the hot spring resort we stayed!). Unfortunately, the ranch was fully booked the day I visited for a private event. Next time!
Ticketing: Horseback Riding – Beginner Class ¥5250 (45 mins) / ¥7350 (60 mins)
How did I get there: Drive, please~ 🙂
Let’s talk a little bit about the geography of Aso. Aso is located in the Kumamoto Prefecture, on the island of Kyushu; and it is the largest active volcano in Japan. I learned that the feature of the area is called a caldera. Caldera is a hotpot-like volcanic feature with a cone-shaped volcano in the center, and its surrounding land was collapsed due to a volcanic eruption many, many years ago. Villages are now built around the volcano these days. The largest village is Aso – and it is located on the north side of the volcano.
Another amazing find would be the hot-spring resort in Minami (Southern) Aso that has INDIVIDUAL, OUTDOOR, IN-ROOM, PRIVATE hot spring at an amazing price that’s hard to believe!!
That’s how we found our resort. For a much lower price, the resort was an amazing experience. The resort is divided into the old wing and new wing. Every guest has their individual room and a small outdoor hot spring area. Each zone is thoughtfully designed and has a view of the beautiful mountain range, with cows wandering outside on the lawn.
Regarding the food, it was not top-notched as I have tasted better in the past, in another hot spring, however, it is common in Kyushu to have the cuisine of horses. We visited Aso in March and to me, it was the perfect temperature to soak in the hot spring outdoor and rejuvenate our exhausted bodies right before our big adventure for tomorrow.
How did I get there: I drove, but it’s possible to get there by train ~
Daikanbo, surprisingly, does not usually appear on the Aso travel bucket list. But it is now officially on my must-see recommendation because it is the highest viewpoint from the North to look down on the entire caldera. Daikanbo was not widely promoted in foreign travel websites may due to its less fanciful commercial development but with the more natural outdoorsy vibe, the peak must be well-known among the Japanese locals. The signs that lead to the lookout were not very clear, and the roads upon the peak were not shown correctly in GPS – we had to drive around a few times until we finally enter the right lane.
We planned to take the 4:47 pm train to Kumamoto and therefore, we also planned to make the most of our time driving around the Aso area. Otherwise, it would have been less “stressful” for us to arrive at the Aso station 10 minutes to catch the train but would have been less “fun” to reach Kumamoto with the Aso-boy “Kuro” scenic train.
Japan is a small and developed country that railways could get you anywhere. The railway is inseparable from the Japanese daily lives, and there are a lot of fans who like collecting models and toys related to the Japanese railway. For me, I always fascinated with the rail system route design, and I could stare at a roadmap for hours, wondering about the city layout, connections, and everything that comes with it. Aso Boy is a limited express train running two times a day between Kumamoto and Aso. Besides, the mascot Kuri is everywhere on the train and decorated with different themes and functions.
Aso Boy (あそぼーい!)
Ticketing: Reserve train ticket beforehand, and it is included in Kyushu JR pass