Like all parts of Japan, the island of Kyushu has its own unique brand of culture and activity. It is known for its food, tourist destinations, and ecology, as well as its nuances of the Japanese language.
Some of the more well-known cities of Japan, like the nearby Kumamoto and Nagasaki, are hallmarked by tradition and old architecture. Kyushu has plenty to offer for the adventurer, as it is home to many volcanoes and hot springs. And no volcano is more monstrous Mount Aso, the largest in Japan
Hiking up to Mount Aso’s caldera
The first thing to know about your hike to the main crater of Aso is since its last eruption in 2016, the volcano spews sulfuric gas into the sky at all times. During times that the toxins are particularly prominent, the caldera may be closed off by rope.
Not to worry if that’s the case, though, as you will be redirected to trek Mount Nakadake, which offers a glorious view of the big crater that reaches into the core of the earth.
I recommend staying at the lovely Aso Backpackers hostel, where you can find cheap lodging and socialize with other travelers who are excited about the hike.
Once you’re settled, you can take a ropeway up to Nakadake, but consider walking instead! Depending on which trail you choose, the walk takes up to two hours through forested and ashy pathways.
Kumamoto is worth visiting for more than just the exhilarating and jaw-dropping volcano treks. Visit the hot springs of Tsuetate Onsen, where time has seemingly stood still for centuries. You can see the steam rising from the landscape as you approach. Take a soak to truly dip into Japanese culture.
Horseback riding is another Kumamoto offering, with several different riding tours available for your equestrian heart’s desire. The city loves horses so much that it even hosts an annual horse festival!