Region
Kyushu
Island
Kyushu
Largest City
Kumamoto
Population
1,859,451

Mount Aso

The largest active volcano in Japan is as unmissable as you'd expect.

As the largest active volcano in Japan and one of the largest in the world, Mount Aso is a must-see for anyone traveling in Kumamoto. Standing at 1592 metres above sea level and boasting five soaring peaks, its caldera is gigantic. There you’ll find Aso City, Aso Takamori-cho, and the Southern Aso Village, plus a whole range of outdoor activities from hiking to horse-riding to hot springs (as well as others not beginning with the letter “h”).

Within Mount Aso lie five mountains that comprise the Aso Gogaku: the Eboshi-dake, the Kijima-dake, the Naka-dake, the Neko-dake, and the Taka-dake. Naka-dake is the volcano that is currently most active – and the one that you’ll need to inquire about should you wish to visit the mountain.

Lake at the active volcano - Mount Aso at Kumamoto, Japan

Make sure to check local media and/or the Aso website to see if the volcano is accessible or not.

There are many sections of the volcano that you can tour: Mount Nakadake, offering a splendid view of the crater, can be accessed via car or by ropeway. Due to the volcano’s sporadic activity, and the high potential for eruptions, it’s sometimes not possible to get up close.* However, if you do manage to visit Nakadake, you can visit the Aso Volcano Museum and view the crater which runs as deep as 100 metres.

If you’d like to try your hand at horseback riding accompanied by an epic pastoral backdrop, visit the Kusasenri-ga-hama between early March and mid December where two lakes lie upon a flattened volcanic crater with cows grazing the surrounding greenery. Also nearby is the Komezuka, a large hill that you can hike through. If you happen to be a fan of azaleas, hike to the Sensui Gorge in mid-May, located near the cable car station.

Aso, Kumamoto, Japan – March 21, 2015: Festivalgoer swinging a flaming bundle of straw at the Aso Shrine Fire Festival, Japan

The annual Fire Festival at Aso shrine is when locals and visitors get together to swing ropes of fire in honor of the marriage of the shrine gods. It looks spectacular, and somewhat dangerous.

Interested in shrines? Pay a visit to the Aso Shrine which was believed to have been founded approximately 2000 years ago. Its Romon Gate is one of the largest in Japan.

Other recommended areas in the vicinity include the Takachiho Gorge, the Kuju Mountain Range, and Kurokawa Onsen – all easily accessible by car.

*There is currently a no-entry zone covering a one-kilometer radius around the crater. The ropeway is therefore closed, as are roads and hiking trails leading to Nakadake.

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Things To Know

Cable Car Opening Hours and Fees

9:00 – 17:00, December – March 19th, 8:30 – 18:00 March 20th – October 31st, 8:30 – 17:00 November 1st – 30th. Adults: ¥750 one-way/¥1200 return (children go half-price).

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒869-2225 Kumamoto-ken, Aso-shi, Kurokawa, 阿蘇山公園道路

By train

From JR Aso Station, Mount Nakadake can be reached in 30-40 minutes by bus, but they run infrequently so be sure to check the schedule – ¥650 for a one-way trip. You’ll alight at Aso Nishi station from where you can take the ropeway up to the summit. Alternatively, it’s about a half-hour walk.

Where To Stay

Jikuya
  • Ichizeki 1497-7 Aso-Gun Minamiaso-Mura, Kumamoto 869-1504
  • 9.6/10
  • 4.0 km
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Minami Aso Luna Observatory Auberge Mori no Atelier
  • Shirakawa 1810 Aso-Gun Minamiaso-Mura, Kumamoto 869-1502
  • 8.2/10
  • 5.0 km
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Pension Angelica
  • Shirakawa 1800-1 Aso-Gun Minamiaso-Mura, Kumamoto 869-1502
  • 9.8/10
  • 5.2 km
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Syukubo Aso
  • Kurokawa 1076 Aso-Shi, Kumamoto 869-2225
  • 8.9/10
  • 6.0 km
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