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Mount Aso 阿蘇山

Mount Aso erupting (  okap212321 - Fotolia.com)
Mount Aso erupting

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Mount Aso is the largest volcano in Japan, and one of the largest in the world. An eruption that took place from 300,000 to 90,000 years ago created a huge caldera, 25 km across from north to south and 18 km across from east to west. Its circumference is estimated between 80 and 120km.

Although the caldera is now inhabited by roughly 100,000 people spread over dozens of towns and villages, there are still active volcanoes toward the center of the caldera. There are five prominent mounts known as the Aso-gogaku (阿蘇五岳). These are Mt Taka-dake (高岳, 1592m), Mt Neko-dake (根子岳, 1408m), Mt Eboshi-dake (烏帽子岳, 1337m), Mt Nishima-dake (杵島岳, 1238m) and Mt Naka-dake (中岳, 1216m). The last one is still an active volcano and continuously emits smoke with occasional eruptions.

Mount Naka-dake in the Mount Aso caldera ( trashthelens - Fotolia.com)
Rhododendron kiusianum in the highlands of Mount Aso ( varts - Fotolia.com)

How to get there

The main towns to access the Aso region are Aso on the hōhi line and Takamori on the Minami-Aso line.

Trains from Kumamoto take 1h20min to Aso (¥1,080) and 1h30min to Takamori (¥1,190). Direct trains from Beppu take about 2h (¥3,440), but are limited to 4 per day.

Kyūshū Sanko has buses between Kumamoto and Beppu that stop at the crater of Mount Aso.

JR Kyūshū Bus has buses between the Aso region, Beppu, Yōfuin and Kurokawa Onsen.

Mount Kometsuka, Aso area (photo by Miya.m - Creative Commons licence)

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