A strong earthquake centered in Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu occurred in the evening of April 14, 2016, followed by an even stronger one in the night of April 16. In addition, strong tremors centered in Oita Prefecture were occurring, as well. The area between Kumamoto City and Mount Aso was worst affected. Several dozen lives were lost, thousands of buildings and many roads were damaged, and landslides occurred. With a few exceptions, most tourist spots, roads and train lines have reopened in the meantime.
The following train sections remain out of service (see also map above):
- JR Hohi Line between Higo-Ozu and Aso. The line is expected to get fully reopened by spring 2021.
- Minamiaso Railway between Tateno and Nakamatsu. Efforts are made to reopen the entire line by 2023.
A few roads in the Aso area remain closed, but detours provide access to all destinations. See map (with closed roads shown in red).
Kumamoto Castle suffered considerable damage, as some turrets and stone walls collapsed and roof tiles fell. Furthermore, Aso Shrine suffered severe damage, as its celebrated Romon Gate and offering hall collapsed. A majority of other sightseeing spots in the area have reopened, but a few of them remain closed.