Mount Aso — Visiting Japan’s Largest Active Volcano
Mount Aso is the largest active volcano in Japan, and is among the largest in the world. It stands in Aso Kuju National Park in Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. Aso has one of the largest calderas in the world.
Many hot spring villages, including Tarutama, Jigoku, Aso, and Yunotani, are located in and around Aso Kuju National Park. The Aso Uchinomaki-onsen-kyo Hot Spring Village, with more than 100 hot springs, is the largest among them.
The central cone group of Aso consists of five peaks: Mt. Neko, Mt. Taka, Mt. Naka-dake, Mt. Eboshi, and Mt. Kishima. The highest point is the summit of Mt. Taka, at 1952m above sea level. The 1,506 meter-high summit of Mt. Naka-dake, where the air is filled with the smell of sulfur, can be reached by a ropeway and car. It is the sole place in Japan where tourists at the summit can take a close-range look at the dynamic fumes rising from the crater, which extends above one kilometer north and south and about four kilometers east and west. Ash covers evacuation shelters at the summit.
Tourists have been banned from entering areas within a kilometer of the crater and the city plans to put up signboards warning climbers about ash risks along the mountain’s trails.