Deep in Kumamoto prefecture on the island of Kyushu lies Mount Aso, an active volcano with one of the largest craters in the world. It constitutes a complex volcanic area consisting of several peaks and craters.
You can scale the mountain and reach the Naka-dake crater via ropeway, or via toll road. It is the only place in Japan where you can get very close to the crater of an active volcano, and even look inside one of nature’s most fascinating and dangerous creations.
Nearby to the crater is a grassy plain, which has great views of the volcano and here there is an opportunity for horse-riding. Nearby to this area is Aso Volcano museum, which gives more information about the volcano and its eruptions, however unfortunately the information is mostly in Japanese.
If you are visiting Kyushu, or Kumamoto in particular, Mt. Aso is a great day trip and offers great views and photo opportunities as well as the unique experience of actually looking inside of a volcano. Due to the presence of the volcano, the area around Mt. Aso contains many onsen or Japanese hot springs. This area is popular for spending a relaxing night or two in the Japanese countryside in a ryokan with easy access to Mt. Aso itself.
*Please note, Mt. Aso, being an active volcano is prone to activity and as such there are periods where the crater and the area around it are completely closed out of safety. It is a good idea to check ahead that the crater can be visited before making the trip so you won’t be disappointed.