Mount Aso Caldera Guide

  • Published on : 24/12/2012
  • by : Japan Experience
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Aso Caldera: read a guide to the Aso Caldera in Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu, the world's largest active caldera with many hot springs.

Nakadake Volcano

The Nakadake volcano (1,506m) in the center of the basin is still active, menacingly towering over the peaceful landscape. Only that today you can take a ride up with a gondola there, looking into the smoky crater and inhale a lungful or two of the sulphuric smell the volcano breaths out.

 

Aso Shinto Shrine

 

Before heading up the hills again towards Nakadake, you might want to drive a little detour to check out the ancient Aso Shinto Shrine in Aso Town, to get a cultural and historical perspective on the area, as well as the geological one.

Because of its fertile lands, the caldera has been populated from the early days of Japanese history. The shrine itself dates back to the year 280 AD. Not the structure you see today but the shrine as such. For almost 2000 years this has been a place to worship the Shinto gods.

But now on to the Nakadake. From the shrine, drive down highway 111, also known as the Aso Panorama Drive. It soon goes up into the Aso mountains dividing the caldera. Don't miss Mount Komezuka (954m) on the right hand side of the road. Komezuka is one of the most famous sites of Aso; an evenly shaped volcanic cone entirely covered with grass and thus bright green. The road has various viewpoint stops to look at the mountain from above.

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