Mount Aso's smoking Nakadate Crater in November 2016
Last updated: June 1, 2018
The no-entry zone around Mount Aso's crater was lifted on April 24, 2018, and it is now possible to view the crater again (unless gas levels are too high or the weather or visibility are bad). The ropeway to the crater remains out of service. Instead, a shuttle bus operates between the ropeway's lower station and the crater (1200 yen round trip). The toll road to the crater is also open to regular cars.

Mount Aso (hR, Asosan) is an active volcano in the center of Kyushu. Its ancient caldera ranks among the world's largest, with a diameter of up to 25 kilometers and a circumference of over 100 kilometers. In the center of the caldera stand the mountain's active volcanic peaks, including Mount Nakadake, whose spectacular crater is easily accessible to tourists by toll road or ropeway.

Note that the crater area is often partially and sometimes completely closed off to visitors due to poisonous volcanic gases or the risk of volcanic activity. So, make sure to check the volcano's current state before traveling there. Even when the area around the summit is open, gases can be intense, and people with respiratory problems should refrain from approaching the crater.

Area around the crater (currently off-limit)

Not far from the Nakadake crater, Kusasenri (or Kusasenri-ga-hama) is a grass-covered plain with grazing cows and a few horses. Horse riding is possible from early March to mid December. On the opposite side of the road stands the Aso Volcano Museum with explanations about the volcano.

Komezuka is a small, beautifully shaped volcanic cone on the northern slopes of Nakadake. There are pleasant walking trails in the vicinity (but not to the top) of Komezuka, however, easy access by public transportation is not provided.

Kusasenri (horse rides are currently not available)

Access

The Nakadake Crater can be reached in a 30-40 minute bus ride from JR Aso Station. There is one bus about every 1-2 hours. The one way trip costs 650 yen and is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Buses travel only as far as Asosan Nishi Station, from where it is a short ropeway ride (1200 yen round trip) to the crater. Alternatively you can walk to the crater in about 30 minutes. Cars can drive all the way to a parking lot just next to the crater, but must pay 800 yen for the last kilometers, which is a toll road.

Make sure to check the volcano's current state before your visit. During times of heightened volcanic activity, the crater can be off-limits, the ropeway not operating, and the road and walking trail to the crater closed.

How to get to and around Aso

Hours & Fees

Aso Volcano Museum

Hours

9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)

Closed

4th Tuesday of each month

Admission

860 yen