Mount Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan, is located in Kumamoto, Kyushu. Arguably the prefecture's biggest attraction, Mount Aso is a prime hiking and sightseeing spot that's part of the Aso Kuju National Park. Mt. Aso's peak is at a towering 1,592 meters above sea level, forming a stunning mountainside view from the Aso city.
Mt. Aso itself consists of five peaks — Mt. Naka, Mt. Kijiima, Mt. Eboshi, Mt. Neko, and Mt. Taka. It's believed that Mt. Aso was formed by four large eruptions that happened more than 200,000 years ago. The regular volcanic activity contributed to the formation of the large caldera that is also known as Nakadake crater. A caldera is larger than an ordinary crater, and the one on Mt. Aso is one of the largest in the world.
The Nakadake crater holds stunning blue water, which emits sulfuric fumes and is dangerously hot despite its icy appearance. The Aso Volcano Crater center monitors the crater's activity levels and updates daily on visitor restrictions to ensure everyone's safety. As of April 2020, access to the crater is currently closed due to increased volcanic activity. The ropeway, roads, and trails leading to the crater are closed until further notice. Mount Aso's latest eruption was in 2016. The crater can usually be accessed via ropeway, a bus from JR Aso Station, by private car, or a 30-minute walk from the bus stop.
80-minute drive from Kumamoto via the Kumamoto Exit
2-hour drive from Oita City / Beppu
To Nakadake Crater: (check if routes are open to visitors)
40-minute bus ride from JR Aso Station, followed by a shuttle bus to the crater / 30-minute walk
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