Japan's Land of Fire
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.
Deep Craters and Vast Grassland
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.
Tremendous Mountains and Lush Wetlands
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.
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