Mount Aso in the center of Kyushu is an active volcano and the largest caldera in Japan. This huge, ancient, volcanic crater was formed over 100,000 years ago and measures approximately 120km in circumference and approximately 24km north to south and 18 km across east to west. The caldera contains five peaks Mount Eboshi (1337m), Mount Kishima (1321m), Mount Naka (1323m), Mount Neko (1408m) and Mount Taka (1592m).
The Aso-Kuju National Park area is an easy day trip from either Kumamoto or Beppu by car or public transport.
The tallest of the five peaks of Aso-san is Taka-dake at 1592m. Most visitors make the trip to Naka-dake (1323m) to see the volcanic crater lake belching steam and the impressive, barren landscape that surrounds the crater.
On the way up to Naka-dake there is the interesting Aso Volcano Museum (Tel: 0967 34 2111; 9am-5pm), where you can see film of Naka-dake from cameras positioned in the crater wall. Just across the road from the museum are some lakes in a grassland - Kusasenri - where visitors can rent horses and pretend to be in Mongolia.
There are seven daily buses to the museum and to the foot of Naka-dake from Aso train station. The last bus down from the mountain is at 5pm. There is a ropeway to the crater or it is a 20 minute walk to the top.
The whole National Park area is excellent for hiking and onsen. There is a popular trail from the crater at Naka-dake to the peak of Taka-dake and then down to Miyaji Station, one stop east of Aso Station on the JR Hohi Line.
There are 3 daily trains from Beppu making the 2 hour journey to Aso Station. There are hourly trains from Kumamoto taking 90 minutes to Aso. There are also buses from Kumamoto, Kurokawa Onsen and Beppu.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
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