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. 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. At the moment, the crater of Mt Aso is open and possible to visit to view its live crater.
We start off the tour from Kumamoto city (if you stay in Kumamoto) and head to Aso area. We go into caldera, the volcanic area inside the outer rim of Mt Aso and will view its landscape and part of the peaks of Mt Aso. First, we visit Shirakawa fountainhead, where 60 tons of water gushes up per minute and it is the source of our drinking water in Kumamoto. You can also draw this crystal clear water from the source if you have a plastic bottle. No worries, you can buy a plastic bottle at the source if you don’t have it.
Kamishikimi Kumano Imasu Shinto Shrine
Next, we visit a hidden spot “Kamishikimi Kumano Imasu” Shinto shrine which offers a magical atmosphere with a staircase surrounded by Japanese cedar trees. We walk up to the shrine which sits at the top of the staircase through 260 steps. And furthermore, walk up to the icon of the shrine, “Ugedo Iwa”. This is a beneficial spot in Shinto, a symbol of “getting through” of its shape, a hole in a rock wall.
Mt Aso’s Crater
We make a brief stop at where the landscape of caldera is fabulous on the way to the crater.
Finally, we drive up to view the live crater of Mt Aso by car. At the moment, the crater is open when the weather and wind direction are fine. This is really a rare experience to view the live crater of an active volcano.
Then we move on to view a landscape of the magnificent volcano with the beautiful scenery of a grass land “Kusasenri” (=1,000-mile grass land). It’s a wonderful experience to take a short hike up to a small hill on the filed of Kusasenri, viewing the landscape of Mt Aso’s peaks and the crater.
Komedzuka and Cattle in pasture
After the visit to the crater and Kusasenri, we make a stop at a beautiful pasture where local cows and horses are grazing, and a beautiful mound Komedzuka. You can have a close look at them by the pen and possibly feed them.
At the end of the tour, you will be dropped off at a local train station Higo Ozu, where you can take a train back for Kumamoto station in 40 minutes, faster than my ride. If you have Japan Rail Pass, you don’t need to pay for the fare.
ITINERARY & PRICE
(example, after Mar 2018)
07:30 Pickup at anywhere in Kumamoto city
09:30 Shirakawa fountainhead
10:20 Landscape of Mt Aso and Caldera
11:00 Kamishikimi Kumano Imasu Shinto shrine
13:30 Mt Aso’s crater
14:30 Hike at Kusasenri
15:30 View grazing pasture
17:00 Drop off at Higo Ozu St and take a train back for Kumamoto St
PRICE: 24,000 JPY (Shared between 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.
Guide Fee: 5,000 JPY per person (minimum 2 passengers)
Flight Duration: Around 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”.