What is “Aso”?

Aso is located right in the middle of Kyushu, the southwesternmost of Japan’s main islands. Famous for its world-scale caldera and ever fuming volcano, two prominent landmarks that symbolize the awesome and flourishing nature of the Aso area.

More specifically, Aso consists of 1 city, 3 towns, and 3 villages where each area has its unique history and atmosphere while still being woven together through a strong connection to Mt. Aso. Each of these places is bound to introduce you to new exciting experiences and ways to enjoy the overflowing nature of Aso.

Aso is also an amazing place to experience the distinctiveness of each season through all of your senses. The stunning scenery of Aso nurtured through ancient culture has moved visitors’ hearts for centuries and will hopefully keep doing so for centuries to come.

One of the most distinctive features of Aso is what is known as Aso Gogaku, or the five peaks of Aso. This is the heart of Aso, the active volcano, once thought to have been one giant mountain that has crumbled into 5 smaller peaks through the eruptions of the past. The Japanese often say that seen from the north side, the mountain range looks like a sleeping Buddha. Can you see it?

One of the five hills of Aso Gogaku, Nakadake. Here you find the active crater where smoke still billows out from the heart of the volcano. When Mt. Aso is calm, you can climb to the top and come eye to eye with the workings of mother nature as you peek into the gaping mouth of the active volcano.

Or if you prefer to enjoy it from a distance, a helicopter trip is sure to become a memorable experience.

In the dim and distant past, the Aso caldera which stretches 25 km from north to south and 18 km from east to west was shaped through 4 giant eruptions that spread volcanic dust as far as Japan’s northernmost island Hokkaido.

But what makes the Aso caldera almost unique in the world is not the size but the fact that people have cultivated the originally infertile lands inside of the caldera and built roads, crops, railways, and houses. In other words, people are more or less living and thriving inside an active volcano.

To fully grasp the entire awesomeness of this huge and unique caldera we strongly recommend a trip with a hot-air-balloon or a paraglider. If you have the courage!

And if you want to dive into all the mysteries and wonders of this geological paradise, then you should make a reservation at ASO Geopark. Here you can get a guided tour in English with a certified guide who will make you see the landscape in entirely new ways.

The people of Aso have worshipped the volcano and the great nature that surrounds them. A faith that has become an intricate part of their culture.

Aso shrine has a history stretching over 2000 years making it one of the oldest shrines in Japan. The fusing of the ancient Shinto belief with a reverence for the volcano as a god has embodied the people of Aso with a deep sense of respect and gratefulness. To this day, Aso shrine continues to be a destination that people from both close and a far visit to pay their homage.

The active volcano and the immense prospering environment. Through ancient times these have blessed the inhabitants of Aso with the gifts of nature.

One of these blessings is hot springs. The Japanese word for hot spring is onsen and in Aso, there are innumerable places where you can soak yourself in relaxing atmospheric onsen. The properties of the water in each onsen is different and many are said to have healing and cleansing effects.

Aso is also famous for its plentiful and clear natural spring water. Volcanic activity has created a soil that can accumulate and store large amounts of rainwater. This water absorbs the nutrition in the ground to later burst forward as natural mineral water through any of the countless spring sources around Aso. All the water used for daily life in Aso is supplied through natural groundwater which in of itself should be an indication of its impressiveness. Crystal-clear natural groundwater that bursts forward in a seemingly endless stream, don’t pass up on the chance to visit one of the spring sources in Aso.

The volcano, the onsen, the water, nature, these have all given birth to another quite tasty blessing of Aso.

The naturally raised grass-fed beef Akaushi, Japanese sake made using the healthy and plentiful water, Dengaku which lets you enjoy the essence of local ingredients traditionally as you grill them over a Japanese sunken hearth, the local specialty pickled mustard leaf, better known as Takanazuke, that has been passed down locally through generations. In Aso, the flourishing nature gives birth to a thriving food culture that you won’t be able to experience anywhere else.

Step into the grand nature of Aso, experience, learn, taste, feel with entire your body and soul. And when you leave, if you leave, bring with you a blessing from Aso, a memory for life.

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