Aso-Kuju National Park in Kumamoto, Oita
Aso-Kuju National Park is a mountainous park with many volcanoes and the world's largest caldera basin, whose circumference measures approximately 90 kilometers. The Aso area boasts a magnificent view of the Aso-Godake Mountains, grassy plains, and an active volcano in Mt. Naka-dake. The Kuju area commands spectacular vistas of the Kuju Range and Mt. Yufu-dake. The region is famous as a habitat for wild azaleas.
<Where to see>
-Mt. Naka-dake on a central crater-
Aso is a rare volcano among volcanoes anywhere in the world in that regular tourists can walk straight up to the edge of the crater and peer in. In addition to going up on foot, you also have the option of ascending by ropeway or car to a point near the crater. Rainwater often accumulates in the approximately 130-meter-deep Crater One on Mt. Naka-dake. This body of water is called yudamari, which may exhibit signs of red heat whenever there is volcanic activity underneath. At times, visitors may be restricted from accessing the crater area according to the concentration of volcanic gases and other factors. In particular, persons with respiratory problems should exercise caution.
Located on route to the summit of Mt. Aso by car (Bochu Line, Akamizu Line), Komezuka conveys a clean form corresponding to an inverted bowl. This peak is approximately 80 meters tall and the remains of a volcanic crater can be found at its summit. According to legend, the depression on the summit was created when the Aso Daimyojin deity of this area, known as Takeiwa Tatsu-no-Mikoto, scooped out rice from the top of this hill to distribute to the people during a great famine.
Restoration work has been undertaken by the Ministry of the Environment in response to the formation of grooves caused by climbers and rainwater on the sides of Komezuka and the progressively worsening situation in regards to soil runoff. Access to the slopes is presently restricted. You are invited to admire the sight of this beautiful natural monument from the nearby road.
Sensuikyo Ravine is famous for its colonies of Kyushu azaleas. When these flowers are in bloom in May, many tourists arrive to behold a valley imbued with a brilliant pink color. Feel free to take advantage of a parking lot, information center, and ropeway station built in the area.
Constituting a spring constituting one of the sources of the Shirakawa River (a Class A River flowing through the Minami-Aso area), Shirakawa Suigen discharges 60 tons of water every minute and has been selected one of the Selected 100 Exquisite and Well-conserved Waters in Japan by the Ministry of the Environment.
-Kyushu azalea colonies growing on Mt. Taisen-
Situated on the eastern edge of the Kuju Volcano Group, Mt. Taisen is clad in pink fields of Kyushu azaleas that are in bloom from the end of May to the middle of June. It is undeniably one of the most popular peaks in this volcano group.
The Kyushu azalea is an evergreen species of azalea growing in high-elevation volcanic areas of Kyushu, including Aso and Kuju. The Kyushu azalea colonies growing on Mt. Taisen were designated a National Natural Monument on September 2, 1961.
Kyushu azaleas are distributed throughout Mt. Taisen and in large numbers across other mountain ridges and slopes in the area. The sight of pretty Kyushu azaleas can restore the spiritual equilibrium in mountaineers who endeavor to observe them in person. These flowers truly exist as a symbol of Kuju.
-Kurodake Nature Forest: the fresh verdure of spring and the autumnal foliage of fall-
Standing on the northeast tip of the Kuju Volcano Group is Mt. Kuro-dake, site of a valuable primeval forest. Beech, Quercus serrata Murray, and Clethra barbinervis trees are resplendently clad in fresh verdure from the end of March to the end of April. Enkianthus perulatus, Japanese Rowan, Acer sieboldianum Miquel (maple), and other species of trees showcase their autumnal foliage from the beginning of October to the beginning of November.
This area is also famous as the location of Oike Pond, Shiramizu Mineral Spring, Kakushimizu, and other famous water spectacles in and around the starting point for climbs up the peak.
In particular, the group of springs around Oike Pond has been selected one of the Selected 100 Exquisite and Well-conserved Waters in Japan by the Ministry of the Environment and is a popular designation among mountain climbers and sightseers who arrive to admire the sight of these springs set against the magnificent backdrop of fresh verdure in spring or autumnal foliage in the fall.
Includes one of one hundred mountains in Japan : Mt. Kuju（1,791m）, Mt. Aso（1,592m）
What is one hundred mountains in Japan? → http://beauty-of-japan.com/article/japan-one-hundred-best-mountains/
- Volcano and caldera basin at Mt. Aso and Kuju mountains across Kumamoto and Oita