The Japanese are known throughout the world for their appreciation of fleeting beauty, such as with the cherry blossoms every spring. But each of the four seasons here has its own particular rare and inspiring moments. Snowfall in Aso-Kuju National Park always brings visitors to Makinoto, but on this day, the magic of blue skies with sunshine lighting up fresh powder made for an explosive combination. Hikers from all over Kyushu braved the unplowed, unsalted mountain roads with chains on their tires and met the mountains with spikes on their boots.
Although this part of the park is full of wilderness trails accessible by many points, Makinoto has the largest parking lot in the area, restrooms, a cafe, and souvenir shop that also has trekking supplies. I recommend the excellent ice cream, made with the local milk Aso and its rolling meadows is known for, and yuzu tea, which makes the perfect compliment to a cold, snowy day in Kyushu.
Trails from here head toward Mt. Hoshisho and Mt. Nakadake, and you can do multi-day treks that circle through the Kuju mountain range.
牧ノ戸登山口—Makinoto Tozan-guchi—Makinoto Trailhead
牧ノ戸峠—Makinoto Touge—Makinoto Pass