August – September Digest


Mt Aso & Takachiho


Kumamoto & Gokanosho

Mt Aso

Takachiho & Mt Aso

Takachiho & Mt Aso

Around Aso


Gokanosho, Yatsushiro & Kumamoto

Kumamoto & Gokanosho

Kumamoto & Gokanosho

Yatsushiro & Gokanosho

Takachiho & Mt Aso


Report from Kumamoto and Aso


Went on an inspection to Kumamoto city and Aso the other day. The traffic in the city was not very heavy even though in the middle of “Golden Week”, Japan’s precious long vacation season starting from the end of April to the early May which goes around a week. (it can be up to 10 days if lucky depending on the calendar) Normally, a lot of people go out for some sightseeing to those spots but I only found fewer tourists around the castle who seemed to be checking out the damage around the castle. Reconstruction of the castle buildings and stonewalls have not been started as yet because of the continuous smaller aftershocks, although they are no longer a threat to our living.

Though one of the roads from Kumamoto to Aso has been destroyed because of a huge landslide, we have a beautiful winding road named “Milk Road” which leads us to the northern part of the caldera. Found a helicopter port after around 20 minute drive on the Milk Road, you can’t get close to the volcano at the moment though, you can get the helicopter service and have a great view of the towns inside the caldera and the crater. Refer to the following about the price and courses. They are operated on weekends and national holidays but when the whether is not good, they are not. The helicopters are normally 5-seaters but some are only 3-seaters and NOTE the minimum passenger is 2.

3-minute course 4,000 yen / person
5-minute course: 8,000 yen / person Flies over the towns in caldera area
Crater course (20 mins):20,000 yen / person Flies over to the crater

Without the helicopter service, I could enjoy the view of beautiful landscape surrounded by green field of the caldera on the winding road. Get a Rent-a-car at Kumamoto station or Kumamoto airport and enjoy the scenic tour.

#Kumamoto #Aso #earthquake


I came back to Gokanosho yesterday after doing guiding jobs for foreign guests. I feel so sorry to hear of the loss of 47 people so far we had during/after the earthquakes happened in Kumamoto. Everyone in Gokanosho is OK, though we have had some rockfalls on the roads and some landslides. We still have to be careful of the continuous aftershocks.

I was in Kumamoto city when the first quake hit Kumamoto on 14 April night after visiting Kumamoto castle and Suizenji Garden in the afternoon with German guests. I gave them a lift to Hitoyoshi with my German guests next day, it was supposed to be a beautiful scenic tour on the traditional Steam Locomotive train on their own. And the next day was a tour to Kagoshima. The guests changed their plan to catch a flight back to Tokyo a day ahead of schedule.

Below is a little collection of the damaged structures of Kumamoto. Kumamoto Castle lost some of its towers and stonewalls. Aso lost its important highway which is one of two linking ways to/from Kumamoto and Aso shrine, the important treasure, collapsed. Shinkansen railways are badly damaged and they are estimated that it should take a long time to fix everything as they used to be. Gokanosho has had only rockfalls and some cracks on the road as far as I know.

However, we must go on to tomorrow in our living. Last night we had rehearsals of “Kagura”, which is a performance of dances by Hagi village, one of five villages of Gokanosho, dedicated to mountain gods. This is one of our traditions handed down for generations. We are going to hold a ceremony at Hagi shrine near Heike-so tomorrow, hoping for no more earthquakes…