The Around Aso Tour, a scenic trip around the top Aso sights

The Aso region is one of the ‘must see’ sights if you are visiting Japan’s southern island of Kyushu. Aso is the name given to  the largest inhabited volcanic caldera in the world and the main reason to visit is to take in the stunning volcanic landscapes of Mount Aso and the majestic caldera scenery.

Japan is a land of forests, mountains and rice paddies and the grasslands of Aso offer views rarely found in the rest of country. The lush Suzuki grass, grazed by horses and the local Akaushi (Red Cattle), is vibrant green in late spring and summer, turning to gold and silver in late autumn and winter. The grasslands reveal the rolling contours of the ancient pyroclastic flows deposited by the volcano over hundreds of thousands of years.

In the center of the caldera the 5 volcanic peaks of Mount Aso rise, forming the shape of a huge sleeping buddha with a gently smoking navel. The central volcano Nakadake is active and if conditions are safe you can  go as far as the rim of the crater and look inside.

Why take a tour?

The Aso area is big, the circumference of the caldera is over 100 km. Sights are scattered around 4 areas, the northern caldera wall,  the northern caldera basin, Minami Aso (the southern caldera basin)  and  Mount Aso – the volcanic peaks in the centre of the caldera which rise to almost 1600 m. Public transport is limited and currently train travel within the region is badly affected due to the earthquakes of spring 2016. So if you want to see a lot and don’t have days to spend your best options are to rent a car or take a tour.

 

A day trip around the region allows you to really maximise your time and visit all the main sights and some of its local secrets in comfort and at your own pace, aof course we are very happy to customise your tour to meet your schedule and interests.

Pick Up and Drop Off Point: The tour begins and ends from Higo Ozu Station. If you are staying in the Aso area it is possible to pick you up from your accommodation. We can also offer a pick up or drop off in Kurokawa Onsen, though there will be an extra charge for this service.

Tour duration: 09:00 to 17:30 (8.5 hours)

No. of guests: Minimum 1 person, maximum 9.

Price: 5,000 Yen pp plus *transport component.

*The transport component cost is shared between the number of people on the tour. We price the tours this way so that we can offer tours even to small groups of 1 or 2 people.  Please contact us for details.

Family discounts available. (Please contact us with your childrens ages to find out more)

Tour Exclusions:

Lunch is not included in the tour price. But please notify us of any special dietary preferences when booking so we can select what and where to eat.

Tour Itinerary

The standard Around Aso tour starts with a pick up from Higo Ozu Station, we take the scenic Milk road through the grasslands, enjoying panoramic views of Mount Aso from the northern caldera wall. Our first stop is  Daikanbo – the Great View, this is the highest point on the northern caldera wall, offering the best views. Here you can enjoy walking out on to the tip of one of Aso’s 7 ‘noses’ to see the silhouette of  Mount Aso, nicknamed ‘the sleeping Buddha’ in all his glory.

 

view from daikanbo

 

We will then descend into the caldera and make our way into the central Mount Aso volcanic mountain range.

On route we will take in views of the picturesque horses and Akaushi cattle grazing the mountain sides, and the caldera wall in the distance.

We also stop to view Neko Dake, the oldest and craggiest volcano

 

komezuka

and Komezuka, the youngest and possibly prettiest one.

On the top of Mount Aso we will stop at Kusasenri, a huge grassy plateau from where we can enjoy a short hike and get stunning views of the live volcano and the caldera below.

 

mount aso

If the Nakadake Volcano is at level 1 you will be able to visit the edge of the crater itself to see the lunar landscape and get a glimpse into its steaming, turquoise crater lake.

We will then make our way back down into the caldera bottom to the Aso Shrine and Mizuki Street area where there is a good selection of restaurants, the shrine was damaged by the quakes of April 2016 but is already under restoration and can be visited.

 

After lunch – and possibly a quick visit to Aso’s best cake shop! We will travel into the southern part of the caldera. Taking in some great views of Neko dake, the ‘tree root’ volcano. We will also visit one of Aso’s best kept secrets – a little known shrine called Kami Shikimi Kuma no Imasu Jinja, which has a literally awe inspiring setting.

 

We will then visit the Shirakawa Source, a sacred spring which is the start of Kumamoto’s largest river the Shirakawa, if you are a sake fan we can also stop at the Reizan sake factory which has been in business for over a century in the town of Takamori. Here you can do a tasting or with prior arrangement take a factory tour.

In Minami Aso you will be able to enjoy the more traditional and rural scenery, the caldera wall is more mountainous and Minami Aso has always been more isolated than the north.  Within the southern caldera basin you can see a pace of life and pastoral scenery which has hardly changed in generations.

 

We head back to Higo Ozu Station over the southern caldera wall, arriving back at the station by 17:30.

The itinerary may change due to weather conditions on the day or timing.

The  tour could also include OshitoishiKokuzo Shrine – Koga Falls  – Horse riding or more hiking time.

一心行の大桜_(熊本県南阿蘇村)2If you are visiting in  April the tour can also include a visit to the 400 year old single sakura of Minami Aso.

Here’s what one of our guests had to say:

Thank you for the lovely photographs you took for us, they are so well taken and the scenery is so beautiful.
It was really very nice tour experiences we had with you as our tour guide and we really enjoyed ourselves very much. Words cannot describe our gratitude to your hospitality and the tour you planned for us. You were an amazing guide and you were so funny, making us laugh all the time. I would definitely recommend to my friends and spread words for your wonderful tours.
Aso Tour and Takachiho Tour  Alice & Family   Dec 2015 Singapore

The tour finishes with a drop off back at Higo Ozu Station around 17:30 from where it is a short train ride back to Kumamoto City.

To make a booking or enquiry about the Around Aso Tour

contact Explore Kumamoto now.

A percentage of all tour profits will go towards helping the Kumamoto and Aso regions

recover from the Kumamoto Earthquakes.