Sunday, 7 December 2014

Aso by Train Part 2: Aso Farmland to Mount Aso

Time for part 2 of my travel series! While I could quite happily spend all my time at Aso, I had to bring my relatives around the Aso area as well. Ok, I also wanted to go to Mount Aso (retracing my ROCS3 steps!).

Day 2: Aso Farmland - Mount Aso (and back!)

We had originally planned to go to Mount Aso and Shirakawa Spring on the same day, but my aunt and uncle forgot their Rail Pass, so we decided just to head to Aso and go to Shirakawa the next day.

There are, as far as I know, three ways to get to Mount Aso:

1. Take a round-trip taxi (1.5 hours, if I remember correctly). It was so expensive I blocked the price from my memory.

2. Take a taxi there. It's about 30 minutes, but I think the price wasn't as bad as the round trip taxi (it's not even half, so I'm not sure what's going on).

3. Take a taxi to Akamizu station (a little more than 1000 yen), then take the train to Aso station.

Obviously, we chose option 3, the cheapest and most time-consuming method. By the way, if you have internet (and even if you don't, go ask the front staff), check the train timings so you don't end up waiting forty minutes for the train.

View from Akamizu station
Akamizu station is a really inaka (countryside) station. There's a station master, but it took a few minutes of knocking on the window to get his attention. We could have literally just walked in without tickets (don't do that, it's not right and anyway, Aso station checks your tickets when you get off).

Country road, take me home.
Wait, I never lived in the countryside. Oh well, I still used that line 
From Akamizu station, we took the train to Aso Station, and then a bus to Mount Aso. You can buy the bus tickets from the vending machine in the building on the right (on the right as you exit the station).

Since there was heightened volcanic activity (Mount Aso has since had its first eruption in 22 years), we couldn't go all the way to the top. So, like 5 years before (I'm starting to think Mount Aso doesn't want me to see its crater), we only went as high as the volcano museum.

But this time, we also took a little hike up to take a look at the active caldera.

That hill-like thing you can see people walking towards
It was breathtaking!

View from that hill in the previous picture - you can see the smoke right?
Apart from the views, you can also ride horses here. Be warned, the horses stink.

This picture is for the bestie, Raychel. YOU KNOW WHY.
There's also a Japanese-language-only museum, which is worth going, even if you don't speak Japanese. Well, my aunt and uncle managed to guess most of the meanings, but that's probably because of the kanji.

Still, there's a pretty interesting, if dated, movie about the four seasons in Aso, as well as two floors about Aso and volcanoes in general. And a live feed. I wish I was there to see the live feed when the volcano erupted!

We wanted to take a taxi back to Aso Farmland (according to the taxi driver, it's about 30 minutes away, versus the one-and-a-half-hours by train and bus), but there are no taxis. I see why the round-trip taxis are so expensive now =.=

Thankfully, we finished the museum five minutes before the bus to the station came. Sadly, that's when it started raining.

Depending on the time you board the train back, you might have to get off at Akamizu station to take a taxi (which isn't that expensive). But, we were lucky and managed to catch the 3:30 bus back to Aso Farmland.

Next post: To Shirakawa Spring and (if there's time) Kumamoto castle!

You can see Part 1, from Hakata to Aso Farmland here.