Imagine yourself standing  on the rim of one of the largest inhabited volcanic calderas in the world, gazing down through the clouds at the patchwork of fields below. Across the vast expanse the peaceful form of a giant sleeping buddha with a smoking belly button formed by the silhouette of five huge volcanic peaks. Welcome to the Aso Geo Park!

Take a look at Explore Kumamoto’s Around Aso Tour

Aso’s Formation

The awe inspiring Aso caldera was formed in a series of 4 colossal eruptions which took place between 300,000 and 90,000 years ago. The final super explosion was so powerful traces of ash reached as far as the south pole, the pyroclastic flow travelled over the sea to the neighbouring islands of Shikoku and Yamaguchi in Honshu and Hokkaido was covered in 15 cm of ash.

When the huge deposits of magma collapsed they formed a vast caldera out of which more volcanic peaks arose in the center. The roughly circular caldera that was created measures 25 km north-south and 18 km east-west with a circumference of around 120 km. In the centre the 5 peaks of Asozan rise to a height of 1592m. (Mt. Neko, Mt. Taka, Mt. Naka (also called Nakadake) Mt. Eboshi, and Mt. Kishima.  Naka dake, the only volcano that is still active, is accessible by road and is the only volcano in the world that can be accessed by ropeway. When the volcano is at Level 1 you can look into the crater itself. Currently Nakadake is at Level 3 which means you can only go as far as Kusasenri.

The landscape the eruption left behind has long attracted people to Aso. Signs of human presence are ome of the earliest in Japan, dating back 30,000 years. At that time the caldera was a huge lake and pre-historic people camped on the rim, visiting the area to make obsidian tools from the pyroclastic flow deposits. Nowadays the vast flat, fertile lands inside the caldera produce rice and many other crops supporting several villages and towns.

One of the unique features of Aso are its lush, green grasslands circling the outside of the caldera and covering the central peaks. The grasslands form a unique habitat and have a 1000 year history, maintained by the grazing of the ‘Aka ushi’ (Japanese brown cattle) and  controlled burning every spring.

Below you will find activities and sights you can explore in and around the Aso area. Click on the picture links to find out more. Then why not plan your own custom made guided or self-guided tour and contact Explore Kumamoto for a quote.

Mount Ogi, Aso
Ogidake View Point A neighbour's recommendation took us to the Ogidake view point 荻岳(Mount Ogi) east of Aso one sunny Sunday in February. The Ogidake lookout
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Explore Kumamoto
Ikeyama Springs Of all the springs I've visited in the Aso area, the Ikeyama Springs one has the biggest wow factor. Possibly because I visited in early
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What is it? Oshitoishi has the reputation of a powerspot, situated on a hill on the pyroclastic flow above the northern caldera wall of Aso. On top of
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Very sadly one of my favorite spots in Aso, the Laputa Road Viewpoint was badly damaged in the earthquakes of April 2016 and can no
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Due to the Kumamoto earthquakes the Aso Volcano Museum is currently closed until further notice. Located at Kusasenri, Mount Aso's vast green plateau. The Aso Volcano
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Aso Paragliding How about taking to the air during your Aso trip? Paragliding is a wonderful way to enjoy the panorama of Aso's nature and get some
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If you are travelling from Kumamoto to Takachiho or Gokase you will pass through the beautiful Minami Aso or Southern Aso area. The charm of the
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Daikanbo The name given to the prime viewpoint of Aso, from here dramatic 360 degree views reveal the panoramic expanse of the whole caldera and
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Aso shrine fire festival
Blazing torches light the sky and in the darkness a multitude of flaming reed straw ropes are swung around in an exciting spectacle to welcome the kami
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Aso Sankinkotai Road Walk Parts of an ancient highway dating from the end of the 16th century still remain in the Aso region, this short walk takes you
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Shirakawa Source Also known as the Shirakawa Suigen 白川水源 in Japanese, this is the most well-known of a cluster of mineral water springs that bubble up in the southern
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Explore Kumamoto
Kokuzo Shrine Tucked away in the shade of the caldera wall in the hamlet of Teno you will find the Kokuzo Shrine 国造神社. Situated only
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Noyaki If you visit the Aso area in late February or March you might be surprised to find the lush green grasslands you saw in all
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Earthquake update: The main gate and hall of worship of Aso Shrine sadly collapsed in the Kumamoto earthquake of April 16th 2016. However, the shrine
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The Aso region covers an area of roughly 350 square kilometers, as it's a very rural area public transport is limited. There is so much
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Tateno valley
Tateno Valley Unfortunately at present Tateno Valley cannot be visited as the bridge and road were badly damaged in the earthquakes in April 2016. Heading
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The title Mount Aso Volcano is a little misleading as the whole central mountain range within the Aso caldera is comprised of volcanos, fortunately only
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Kurokawa Onsen and Aso Day Trip Why take a tour?  Both Kurokawa and Aso are on many peoples list of places to visit in Kyushu,
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Kusasenri The view of Kusasenri is one of the iconic scenes of Kumamoto; a vast emerald green grassland plateau with peacefully grazing cows and horses reflected in the still
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The Aso Geopark videos below will give an idea of what to expect from the Aso region. Two of them have English commentary all of
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