MT. ASO: THE WORLD'S LARGEST VOLCANIC CALDERA
A much shorter adventure (1/4-1/6/2000)
Jan. 4- We decided to go on one last little trip before parting ways, and set off for Mt. Aso in the middle of Kyushu. That first day was mostly travel, but boy were the views beautiful! Mt. Aso is a HUGE old volcano that's been dormant thousands of years. The center is now a flat plain with sheer cliffs encircling it. In the center are several smaller mountains, one of which is still an active volcano. There are not many places in Japan where you can see that much open, flat land. Our first hostel was in the middle of nowhere up one of the cliffs. The surroundings were amazing! Thick pine forest and not much of anything else. We checked in and walked to the only restaurant near-by for dinner. We stargazed a bit on the way back because the sky was SO amazingly clear and the stars were SO amazingly bright. We met several Germans at the hostel who were studying chemistry on exchange programs. They were super cool, and we talked for a long time.
Jan. 5- We decided to take a bike-ride down into the caldera and stay at a new youth hostel closer to the main attraction, the active volcano, Mt. Naka-dake. So, we slung our packs on our backs, rented bicycles, and started pedaling out. At first, we were going almost entirely downhill. That was great, we didn't have to do anything! Then, we got to the bottom... It wasn't the place we wanted to be at all. So, for the next 2 hours or so, we pedaled back uphill. We finally made it to the edge of the cliff, and it was incredible! We looked around in awe for a while. Then we started the descent. WHAT A RIDE!!! We made it to the youth hostel, and the guy was so helpful! We had run out of money, and the banks were all far away. So he told us to go in the morning and he would pick us up. He then planned which buses we could take to the volcano, where we could see, a nice onsen we could visit, and which trains we needed to take to get home. Crazy!
Jan. 6 - We catch the train to the bank, the man at the hostel, good to his word, picks us up there. We then head to the Volcano. The views are just amazing! We climb around for a bit, and look at the volcano, and then head back, stopping by a crazy big omiyagge store (tourist trap). Across the street they have horseback riding (notice the stairs!). Then back to the train station, and back to Saga!
Many more photos
I also went to Aso in April with Kim, her friend Servane, and Sandy.