Mount Aso: a Volcano to Rival Mount Fuji


WordsSolenn Cordroc'h

Courtesy of

Mount Aso may be less famous than the iconic Mount Fuji, but it is the largest active volcano in Japan. It is located on the island of Kyushu in the Aso-Kuju national park, which straddles the Kumamoto and Oita prefectures. Despite its name, which might suggest it consists of just one summit, Mount Aso is actually a volcanic complex which comprises around fifteen cones, situated in the centre of one of the biggest calderas in the world, extending over 18 kilometres from east to west and 25 kilometres from north to south, and with a perimeter measuring 100 kilometres.

Visitors coming to discover Mount Aso will come face to face with one of its symbols, the imposing Naka-dake. Perched 1506 metres above the ground, this is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Its summit is marked by a strong smell of sulphur, and can be accessed by cable car or car. Visitors can even take a look inside the crater, where they’ll find a stunning blue lake. But panic not – although the volcano is active, safety comes first during visits. There is a website where visitors can access official information about the current state of the volcano, and in the event of a violent eruption, access is, of course, forbidden. There are also several bunkers on the slopes to protect visitors in the event of a smaller eruption.

The second volcano which forms part of Mount Aso and which catches the eye owing to the fact that it is 954 metres high is Mount Komezuja. This volcano is covered in grass from spring onwards, and therefore brightens up the surroundings. As the volcano is classed as a protected site, visitors are not allowed to scale it, but it is best viewed from a certain distance anyway, as this allows it to be admired in its entirety.

Another key attraction is the large plain in the area around Mount Aso, Kusasenri ga Hama. It’s the ideal place to end a day in the heart of nature with a visit to a museum. The Aso Volcano Museum is definitely worth a visit to find out more about Mount Aso and to take a look inside Naka-dake crater via two cameras which film in real time. And after all of that, visitors can relax in one of the many onsen around the edge of Mount Aso, although those more inclined towards sport might prefer a horseback ride to admire the view of the chain of volcanoes.



©Ludovic Lubeigt

©Ludovic Lubeigt

©Fougerouse Arnaud