How to travel between Aso and Kumamoto
The railway tracks of the JR Hohi Line were damaged in the Kumamoto Earthquakes in 2016 between Higo-Ozu and Aso stations. The train line is scheduled to fully reopen on August 8, 2020. In the meantime, it is possible to use the below-mentioned buses between Higo-Ozu and Aso stations (50-60 minutes, 1020 yen one way, not covered by JR passes, departures every 1-2 hours).
Two types of buses ("Yamabiko" services and "Kyushu Odan" services) travel from Kumamoto (stopping at Kumamoto Station, the Sakuramachi Bus Terminal and the airport) to Aso Station before continuing on across Kyushu to Oita and Beppu respectively. The one way trip between Kumamoto Station and Aso Station takes around two hours, costs 1530 yen and is covered by the Sun Q Pass. "Yamabiko" buses operate once every 1-3 hours, while "Kyushu Odan" buses operate only twice per day. Click here for timetables and online reservations for the "Kyushu Odan" buses.
Above fees and schedules are subject to change. For the current yen exchange rate, click here.
A rental car is the recommended means of transportation in the Aso area. Although most tourist sites are served by public transportation, the trains and buses are not very frequent, and a rental car provides considerably more flexibility and comfort. Many rental car outlets are located in Kumamoto City and at Kumamoto Airport, but only a few can be found in the Aso area.
The transportation hub in Aso is Aso Station on the JR Hohi Line, which runs across Kyushu between Kumamoto and Oita. Buses run between Aso Station and the peak of Mount Aso. The Minami Aso Railway is for the most part only useful for travelers who plan on continuing to Takachiho, as there is a bus connection to Takachiho from around Takamori Station.