Monday, June 9, 2014

Mt. Aso - A day trip to Japan's largest active volcano

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Mt. Aso or Aso-san (阿蘇山) is one of the largest volcanoes in the world and it is the largest active in Japan. It's located in Kumamoto prefecture on the Kyushu island and it's one of the biggest attractions of Kyushu.

Mt. Aso is more an area than just a mountain. What is usually called Mt. Aso now consists of five major peaks. Mt. Naka or Naka-dake in Japanese is the currently active one. I was lucky to be taken to Mt. Aso by friends by a car, which looked like by far the easiest way. There is a parking lot just next to the main crater. Bus tours usually end at the base of a cable car which is used to get to the volcanic rim. It is closed when the volcanic activity raises.

The way to the Mt. Naka was very beautiful and there were scenic spots everywhere. Many people stopped their cars at designated areas to take pictures. So did we...

The rice fields were clearly visible from the mountain. The weather was good the view was stunning.

The crater of Mt. Naka is active and poisonous. The Japanese take the threat seriously and the mountain is closed when there's is any danger. When I visited, the status was orange, which already means danger to people with health problems such as asthma. There are even little concrete bunkers in case the mountain wakes up.

But the view of the creater was well worth it.

On the way back we stopped in an onsen to relax and for dinner we decided to eat local famous dish, basashi. The whole area is famous for horse meat and basashi is in fact raw horse meat. Like a horse sashimi. Not something I'd like to eat every day, but it was an interesting experience.

Fortunately cooked horse meat was also available in the form of yakiniku (grilled meat that you grill by yourself at the table) and later we ate a horse steak which was delicious.

Mt. Aso was really beautiful and it made an amazing one day trip.

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