Only 50 kilometers from Kumamoto City, on Kyushu Island, is Mount Aso, one of the worldly largest active volcanoes, with a diameter of more than 25 kilometers and a circumference exceeding 100 kilometers! Aso is most commonly recognized for its summer greenery, but I decided to explore the area during the cold season.
Access to the Plateau of Mont Aso
If you decide to go to the mountains by public transport, note that the plateau of Kusasenri is very well served. For this, simply go to the Aso Station at the foot of the mountain, and you will be in the heart of the action in less than 30 minutes. Despite a weather that may seem favorable down the mountain, it may be quite different once at high altitude, so be prepared with clothing for any event!
The Road in the Mountains
While the temperature drops a little more with each kilometer that brings me closer to my destination, the ride on the bus is comfortable. The summer greenery gives way to a thick layer of snow making the landscape even more sublime and majestic.
The endless rows of snow-covered fir trees follow one another as far as the eye can see, all sprinkled with a thin layer of freshly fallen snow. The advantage of bus routes in the mountains is speed. For safety, it is impossible to go fast, which gives me time to enjoy the landscape while staying warm. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to going out to explore on foot.
The Kusasenri Plateau
After a little thirty minutes of “zigzagging” on the road, I finally arrived at my destination; the Kusasenri plateau, a vast plain where we can appreciate the relief of the mountain and especially that of Mount Eboshi, which is located directly in front of me. As I predicted, the weather is very different in the mountains, where a snowstorm is getting heavy and the temperature has dropped to -9 degrees. Nevertheless, the sun manages to pierce the thick layer of dramatic clouds, letting a few sunbeams slip: the divine light to hit!
We stopped at the parking lot, where a row of small restaurants and cafés are located, as well as the Aso Volcano Museum. I already look forward to the idea of putting myself in a warm place, contemplating the view. But for now, I decided to go on an adventure, starting with a little walk on the snowy path, behind the parking lot.
A Walk on the Mountain Trails
Depending on the time you have available and of course weather conditions, it is possible to explore the surroundings with various small trails available. During the summer, horseback riding or crater tours are possible activities. During the winter, enjoying the calm of mountain hiking around the plains will not disappoint. Before you go on an adventure, do not forget to check the timetable of your bus!
While the footsteps of my shoes make the snow creak, I like to stop and enjoy the vast landscape that surrounds me; mountains and relief as far as the eye can see, through which the asphalt road contrasts the white bursting from the snow. The air is pure and silence dominates the stage.
While walking along the road, the path leads me slightly higher. I can then enjoy Mount Eboshi with a little more altitude, and a row of fir in the foreground. On the other side is Mount Kishima which dominates the frame, covered with snow-covered fir trees.
Having Coffee in front of the Tray
After a good hour walking on the trail with my shoes covered with snow, (also plan good shoes if you decide to go to the mountains during the winter!) I decided to return to the plateau, to get warm. The “New Kusasenri” is a small café / restaurant/ shop located in the parking lot. I settled down while waiting for my bus. A heated veranda, furnished with small sofas, is present, and it is the perfect place to rest while admiring the view!
Sponsored by Kumamoto Prefectural Tourism Association