Aso City, Kumamoto Prefecture, located in the center of Kyushu, has a large caldera created by volcanic activity 90,000 years ago. As for how big it is, it is about 18 kilometers east-west, about 25 kilometers north-south, and the surrounding outer ring mountain is about 128 kilometers. There are three towns inside the giant squid, where as many as 50,000 people live in, so you can see how big it is.
Meadows spread out in the vast outer ring mountain, and the idyllic scenery, where cows and horses are freely running, lies in front of you. There are five high mountains in the center, and it is called Aso Godake. “Mt. Aso” refers to the part from Mt. Aso to Gairinsan. And the land which of the green plain and active volcano is designated as a Global Geopark.
【Aso’s Volcano : Nakadake】
Nakadake is still active in Aso Godake. Nakadake has an altitude of 1506 meters, but you can reach there by car, as the Aso Panorama Line is extended to the summit.
The road to the summit passes through the idyllic meadow, and you can see the horses on the grass of Senrigahama at the foot of Mt. Nakadake. At the Aso Volcano Museum, you can learn about the history of the volcano and the flourishing four seasons of Aso. Please stop, and have a look.
Near the summit, the road turns into a rugged rocky area, and just before the crater, a rough landscape called Suna Senrigahama lays out. Passing through the desolate sand and rocky terrain, you will feel you are exactly on the way to the crater. At the top, a crater 400 meters east-west and 1100 meters north-south opens, and you can see the water vapor which is in the bumps, and the rising water vapor. Its appearance, which is likened to “breathing the earth,” strongly reminds us that the earth is alive.
If you are confident in your physical fitness, we recommend trekking from Sensuikyo to Nakadake through Takadake (1592 meters), the highest peak of Aso Godake. Especially from the end of May to the beginning of June, Miyama Kirishima blooms all at once in Sensuikyo, so it’s going to be a great experience especially on a sunny day. There are many hot springs derived from volcanoes around Mt. Aso, so you can relax in the hot springs after sweating while climbing.
【Gairinsan …also one of a kind】
A way so called “Milk Road” runs along the outer ring that surrounds Mt. Aso, and you can drive while looking at the grasslands that spread out over the crater and the magnificent Mt. Aso. Milk Road is a local name for the route that connects Prefectural Roads 339, 12, and 45, and is named because it runs through ranches scattered around. The route through the greenery of the ranch and the greenery of the plains is excellent, and you can enjoy a panoramic view of the landscape of Aso and observation deck Daikanbo on the way. If you are lucky, you can see the mysterious scenery of the sea of clouds over the entire outer ring of the mountain. The sea of clouds is said to be more likely to occur when the day before is warm and the temperature at dawn the next day is low. It seems that it is not a rare sight, but if you can see it, it will be a sight that you will never forget, so please try it. The scenery of nature created by the volcano and the cows and horses that live there. Furthermore, there is no complaint about food. Mt. Aso, which has all this, must be a perfect place to visit.