About Mt Aso -Active Volcano-
The active volcano Mt Aso is a symbol of Kumamoto. A few-time catastrophic eruption occurred back in history, brought us some heavy blows but also blessings to human’s life, such as the beautiful scenery offered by its caldera and Onsen (Hot springs). On this tour, take a ride to active volcano Mt Aso in the guide’s car and plunge on into the caldera of the active volcano that ranges 25 km from North to South and 18 km from East to West. Go through a scenic pavement called “Milk Road”, viewing cows and horses on the beautiful pasture stretching out over the hills of caldera. You will explore within the caldera where around 45,000 people have lived close to the active volcano. It’s quite unusual that human have formed the sustainable community, reclamation work and even railway operation inside the caldera of an active volcano, worldwide.
Milk Road & Daikanbo
To begin with, we are going to take a ride through Milk Road viewing the beauty of the caldera with cattle on pasture, green grass field stretching out over the hills and a distant view of Mt Aso lies in the middle of the caldera. Then we get to an observatory called “Daikanbo” meaning “The great viewing peak” to have the landscape of the 5 peaks of Mt Aso. It’s a short hike up to the peak, 5 minutes or so. Some snacks are available here, soft ice cream made of local milk, one of Aso’s specialties, is recommendable.
In cold seasons, it is very cold because of cold wind blows up on the hill. So you should wear a jacket here. After a 5-min walk, you will be able to view the amazing landscape of the entire Aso area with the active volcano.
The scenic ride continues down to Aso shrine. This shrine is designated as an Impotant Cultural Property, the head of 450 Aso branch shrines built all over the country. But those important and historical structures have been collapsed by big earthquakes we had on 14 and 16 April 2016. Come visit here, and we’d appreciate it if you could do a little donation for the reconstruction. After the prayer, let’s walk around on the shrine street for checking local stores.
Kusasenri & Crater
Then, move up to “Kusasenri” zone to view a landscape of the magnificent volcano with the beautiful scenery of Kusasenri, a grassy plain .It’s a wonderful experience to take a short walk up to a small hill on the filed of “Kusasenri” (=1,000-mile grassy plain) viewing the landscape of Mt Aso’s peaks and the crater mountain.
Great news! At last, the crater is fully reopened today!! (03 Mar 2018) The viewing place is broken into 4 zones (A – D) and B zone is the closest lookout. Please note B zone has to be closed in the case of bad weather or too much volcanic gas that contains SO2 (Sulfer Dioxide). Therefore, those who have asthma and heart problems are advised not to visit this area.
I am afraid to let you know that the crater has been closed again due to an increase of volcanic tremors. Therefore, 1 km perimeter around the crater is prohibited to enter again until the volcanic tremor calms down. Fingers crossed the volcano cheers up soon.
Shirakwa fountain head
& Kamishikimi Kumano Imasu shrine
After the visit to Mt Aso, we go down the hill and visit either “Shirakawa fountainhead (spring source)” or “Kamisikimi Kumano Imasu shrine”.
Shirakawa fountainhead is the source of a river of crystal clear water “Shirakawa” (White river) that flows towards Kumamoto city. it’s a beautiful spot where you can dip up and drink the water which just gushed up from underground, and also you can take it back in a plastic bottle which you can bring or buy on the spot for 100 yen.
Kamishikimi Kumano Imasu shrine is located in the east of Mt Nekodake, one of the 5 peaks of Aso, peacefully and silently in the beautiful mossy woods. You will walk up the stairs adorned with stone lanterns through approx. 260 steps to the shrine.
ITINERARY & PRICE
(example, after Mar 2018)
08:30 Pickup at anywhere in Kumamoto city
10:00 Scenic tour on Milk Road
10:30 Daikanbo observatory
14:00 Go on a Hike at Kusasenri
15:30 Shirakawa fountain head / Kamishikimi Kumano Imasu shrine
17:30 Drop off at Higo Ozu St and take a train back for Kumamoto St
PRICE: 20,000 JPY (Shared beteween number of people) + 6,000 JPY per person
(children from age 4 up to age 16: 50% off, under age 3: free of charge)
1,000 yen Discount pp if the group gets 4 persons or more
Max number of people: 7 (in my mini van unless large luggage)
9 (hiring a 10-seat van : plus 30,000 yen)
13 (hiring a 14-seat van : plus 33,000 yen)
Aso Tour Includes:
Tour Customization / Transport / Photograph upload
If you would really like to have a look at the crater in a different way, helicopter service is highly recommended. It costs some extra money to get this though, you can enjoy a luxurious moment like no other ordinary tourists do. But please note this service is only available from Friday – Monday, national holidays and the day after each of them. Check out the following footage what it is like when you get this service.
Fee: 5,000 JPY per person (minimum 2 passengers)
Flight Duration: 4 min
Why don’t you have Aso’s specialty, “Aka Ushi” (Red Beef)? The beef comes from a breed of Japanese beef cattle called “The Japanese Brown”. Here in Kumamoto, they are called Aka Ushi or Red Beef, named after its colour of fat. Generally speaking, Japanese beef (a.k.a. Wagyu) is well known for its marbled meat with various amount of intramuscular fat, but Aka Ushi contains less fat and good lean meat pastured on the vast fertile field with green grass growing thanks to the volcanic soil. You can cook the beef as you like on a hot plate made from lava of the volcano, available at the restaurant “New Kusasenri”.