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Japan's Land of Fire

Mount Aso (Aso Caldera) and The Five Peaks

The summit of Mount Aso is 1,592 meters above sea level. Located in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture in the center of Kyushu, Mount Aso is Japan’s largest active volcano, and also ranks among the world’s largest volcanoes. A non-explosive caldera formed by four major pyroclastic flow events that occurred between 90,000 – 270,000 years ago, the Mount Aso caldera is the second largest caldera in Japan and the third largest caldera in the world . The central core sits in the center of five major mountains, which the Japanese call the Five Peaks of Mount Aso. The Five Peaks of Mount Aso are Mount Takadake, Mount Nekodake, Mount Kirishima, Mount Eboshidake, and Mount Nakadake. These five mountains and valley below are a legacy of Kumamoto Prefecture's rich volcanic history, and a popular destination for hikers around the world.

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Deep Craters and Vast Grassland

Nakadake Crater, Komezuka Crater, and Kusasenrigahama

Aso Nakadake crater is one of the few places in the world where you may be able to observe volcanic activity up close. A notable feature of the Nakadake crater is the beautiful blue-green crater lake that has formed within it. The water in this lake comes from large cracks the continually develop in the Earth's surface. Beyond Nakadake lies the Komezuka crater, a textbook scoria cone with a circular indentation on top. Just 80 meters high, Komezuka is volcanic with visible signs of eruptions. The slopes are covered in brilliant green grass between spring and fall. Below the craters lie the Kusasenrigahama grasslands, a shallow prairie, and a large pond, offering incredible views of the mountains. This area is a popular destination for both horseback riding and hiking.

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Tremendous Mountains and Lush Wetlands

Kuju Mountain Range, Tadewara Marsh, and Mount Yufu

The Kuju Mountain Range runs along the Trans Kyushu Route, between Kumamoto to the west and Beppu to the east. Part of the Yamanami Highway between Aso and Beppu, the main Kuju Mountain trailheads are at Makinoto Pass and Chojabaru Visitor Center. From Chojabaru Visitor Center, access the elevated walkways traversing Tadewara Marsh. Surrounded by the Kuju Mountain Range, this marsh features an ecosystem of unique geological and topographical features. One of its water sources, Yubiyama Yusui, offers refreshing spring water, perfect for quenching your thirst on a hike. From Beppu or the quaint hot spring town of Yufuin, you can reach Mount Yufu, a massive volcano known as the Mount Fuji of Oita Prefecture. Mount Yufu is this area's primary landmark, popular among locals and visitors alike.

RECOMMENDEDItineraries
2 DAY TRIP / 1st day
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8:25Fly to Asokumamoto AirportLeave Haneda Airport at 8:25, land at Asokumamoto Airport at 10:20.
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11:15Express bus to Aso Cuddly DominionThe Yamabiko express bus takes you to Aso Cuddly Dominion, a zoo teeming with bears and other fluffy animals.
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15:25On to Miyaji Station then El PatioAfter your zoo stop, get back on the Yamabiko express bus, head for Miyaji Station, then take a taxi to El Patio.
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16:30Horseback Riding at El Patio RanchTake a sunset horse ride with views of the Kuju Mountains and Aso-Gogaku—the Five Peaks of Aso. Stay the night at the ranch.
2 DAY TRIP / 2nd day
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8:20Head to Aso Station via Miyaji StationAfter breakfast at El Patio, head back to Miyaji Station, then take the Kyushu Sanko Bus to Aso Station, arriving at 8:57.
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9:00Stroll the area around Aso StationWalk to a popular Japanese sweets shop, or visit Saigandenji, a temple near the station. Grab a famous local bento to eat later.
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10:40Bus to the Chojabaru Health CenterFrom Aso Station head out to Chojabaru Health Center, your starting point for marshland trekking in Aso-Kuju.
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13:00Tadewara Marsh Trek with Yubiyama Yusui Spring Water in OitaExperience the splendor of Tadewara Marsh, and drink the pure spring water of Yubiyama Yusui. Stay at Kuju Yamanami Camping Village.
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