Backed by the active volcanic peak of Mount Aso, the city of Aso is a hotspot for outdoor adventures. It’s surrounded by hot springs and hiking trails and offers easy access to the mythological landscapes of Takachiho.
Things to do in Aso
Spend a day exploring the immense caldera of Mount Aso, with the active volcano of Mount Nakadake in its centre. Ride the ropeway to the crater rim to soak up the views, go horse riding through the grass-covered plains of Kusasenri and learn about the geological forces that have shaped the area at the Aso Volcano Museum.
To the north of Mount Aso is one of Japan’s most attractive hot spring towns, Kurokawa Onsen, which has retained its traditional atmosphere. Wander through atmospheric lanes dotted with small shrines and bathe in the ryokan and public bathhouses, then cross the quaint bridges leading across the river that flows through its centre.
Need to relax? Indulge at the hot springs of Uchinomaki Onsen where the unique waters contain a small amount of lithium. Soak up the picturesque views as you hop between the Machiyu public baths where some of Japan’s most renowned writers have sought inspiration.
Make a day trip to the charismatic town of Takachiho that’s steeped in Japanese mythology as the supposed site of a famous Shinto legend. Go hiking through the spectacular Takachiho Gorge and see the cave shrine of Amano Iwato, then visit the Takachiho Shrine where nightly Yokagura dance performances are held.
Getting around Aso
Aso is a 1.5-hour drive from Kumamoto and around one hour to Kumamoto Airport. Buses connect to most of Aso’s attractions, but having your own vehicle is best for exploring the surrounding area.