The best views on Mount Aso

What we call Mount Aso is supposed to be the entirety of the caldera (the outer rim included) and not only the famous five peaks which stand in the middle of it. But for convenience, this blog entry will focus on the best viewpoints from where you can enjoy a view on the five peaks.

Most of these viewpoints are situated on the outer rim of the caldera. There is a lot of them, some without even a name, so this list will introduce some of the best and won’t be exhaustive.

 

Daikanbō viewpoint

 

 

This is without a doubt the most famous viewpoint in all Aso. If you’re looking for pictures of Mount Aso on the internet you will certainly find a lot of pictures that were taken from there. The view you get on Mount Aso from the Daikanbō is called Nehanzō (涅槃像) in Japanese. From this viewpoint, the five peaks look like a Buddha lying on his back with the Nekodake drawing its face. Whatever the season, the Daikanbō is a place you need to go to really enjoy the beauty of Aso. This is also the place where you can realize how huge the caldera really is (more than one hundred kilometres in circumference). It is possible to reach the Daikanbō by bus from Aso station but there aren’t that many buses every day and the closest bus stop is 30 minutes away by foot. It is also a very popular place and you will find a souvenir shop and toilets close to the viewpoint.

 

Ogidake or Mount Ogi

 

 

Less known than the Daikanbō, Ogidake is nevertheless a beautiful place. I had the occasion to go there several times and found myself to be the only one there more than half of the time which is great in my opinion. On a clear day you can enjoy a 360-degrees view from the top and clearly see Mount Aso, Mount Sobo in Miyazaki prefecture and the Kuju mountains in Oita prefecture. You can reach the top directly with your car or you can hike there from Ogi shrine (about 30 minutes).

 

Kabuto Iwa

 

 

Situated in the North Western part of the caldera, Kabutoiwa is another great viewpoint. The view from there is different than the one from the Daikanbō but it is worth a stop too. The place was heavily damaged during the Kumamoto earthquakes in 2016 but reopened a few years later and a new deck was built this year.

 

Sankinkōtai historical road

 

 

This road was used by the lords of Higo (the ancient name for Kumamoto) to reach the capital. It is like you can feel the history when climbing this paved road which is a rare thing in Japan. From the bottom of the outer rim to the top it takes only 30 minutes by foot, but the access is difficult if you don’t have a vehicle at your disposal. You can enjoy the best view just before reaching the top as you can see on the picture below.

 

Futae pass

 

 

Very close to the Sankinkōtai road, the Futae pass will be your first glimpse at the caldera if you come by bus. This is also the road I use to take to come to work for years and from where I was able to enjoy the sea of clouds on numerous occasions. To know more about the sea of clouds in Aso please refer to this past blog entry.

This is only a selection of the best viewpoints and there is a lot of places from where you can enjoy beautiful views on Mount Aso. If you have a car I recommend you to drive along the milky road. See you soon in Aso!

 

Franck.

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