Mount Aso, is the largest active volcano in Japan, and is among the largest in the world.
Its peak is 1592 m above sea level.
Its caldera is 25 km across north to south and 18 km across east to west.
The caldera has a circumference of around 120 km, although sources vary on the exact distance.
The central cone group of Aso consists of five mountains: Mt. Naka, Mt. Neko, Mt. Taka, Mt. Eboshi, and Mt. Kishima.
Last major of Mt. Naka was in 1993, but still the summit is regularly declared off limit due to toxic gas emmission.
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Sensui-kyo is a ravine located in a place with an altitude of 900m of the foot in Mt. Aso-takadake, where a dynamic view of the Aso valley and northern part of Aso Caldera can look down under their view.
Along with Mt. Unzen and the Kirishima plateau, Sensui-kyo is one of the most beautiful places of azalea in Kyushu; about 50,000 shares of azaleas dye whole area pink from the middle of May to the beginning of June.
Aso shrine one of the oldest and most prominent shrines in Japan, and was built in 281 before accession of the 1st Emperor Jinmu.
The shrine is located in the center of the caldera of Mt. Aso, and the caldera is known as the largest in the world in which people are actually living.
The shrine is popular as a god protecting worshipers from traffic accidents, and exorcism, marriage, and learning.
Because of the volcanic soil, the bottom of Mt. Aso-caldera is very furtile. Therefor this is an ancient agricultural area with many farmhouses of various kinds. It can be very intresting (and rewarding) to visit some farmers on your walks around, however most of them only speak Japanese. Still, when contact is made they will be the most hospitable people I ever met on the face of this earth.
Issingyo big cherry tree located at foot of Mt. Aso provide one of the most beautiful cherry blossoms in Kyushu.
The overview of the tree;
- Age : 400 years
- Height : 35m
- Branch tension: 26m
Best season to see beautiful cherry blossoms is at the end of March to in the middle of April.
You will see the result of the last eruption ( well, I guess... ) : large areas without any plants, ash, all colors of rocks around the crater. A very impressive area.
The volcanoe may be close when there are too much fumes ( sulfur, I would guess...). The tourist information office at the train station should be able to tell you if you can reach it. By the way, why take the cable-car at the top ? It will save you a 20 minutes walk, does it worth it ?
There are many displays, including rocks, scales, types of volcanoes, evolution of the landscape in the surrounding, evolution of the agriculture.
Sadly, most of it is in japanese, so you better get some japanese guide to help you. I haven't seen any at the Museum itself.
Kusasenrigahama is a beautiful prairie of 785,000 square m in the crater which spreads in northern part of Mt. Eboshi that is one of the Aso Five Mountains.