I’ve been wanting to ride my scooter to Mt. Aso for a long time, and this past weekend was perfect because Monday was a holiday and the weather was GREAT, so I went!
Many of my coworkers though I was crazy for attempting such a trip with such a small motorbike, but I did it! It took 5 hours each way. I left Sat. morning, and stayed in a hostel in Aso for 2 nights.
Mount Aso is the worlds largest volcanic caldera. Thousands of years ago this region was a super-volcano. Now this area features strange hills where only small grassy vegetation can grow, black dunes of volcanic sand, areas of twisted and tortured Earth, and ominous reminders of it’s violent past. It is at the same time beautiful and humbling.
This photo is my scooter in front of volcanic hills. I wonder if these weren’t formed recently enough in the geological past that the volcanic sand hasn’t been enriched enough to support more than grassy vegetation. The result is that the hills look green, soft, and even pruned. But that is just because no larger vegetation seems to grown on them.
Nakadake Crater: This central crater is still active and is regular closed due to spewing toxic amounts of gasses. While I was there the area closest to the crater was closed when gas monitoring equipment detected dangrous levels of gasses being emitted. The crater still erupts from time to time spewing ash and stones. If I overheard a Japanese tour guide there have been deaths as recently as the 1970’s from eruptions. This is truly an impressive thing to see. Just near this crater are dunes of black volcanic sand and strangely placed boulders that you know had to have fallen out of the sky!
While not active anymore, I find this volcanic cone to be one of the more fascinating features in the area. It’s rather large. This photo was taken from a distance.