Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mount Aso   阿蘇山

Well, it has taken me some time to reply to my previous post question... I have been considering stopping writing this blog. It has been many years, more than 500 posts and more than 30000 visits! So, it would not be nice to quit without a couple of nice posts...

With respect to the previous post, the answer is it is the Earth... That landscape looks otherworldly and surely it is. It is Mount Aso in Kyushu, my next stop in my trip in Kyushu after spending some self-indulging time in the hotspring paradise of Beppu. After one day soaking in thermal waters and enjoying seafood, it was time to move back to the other coast of the island and what better way than making my trip through a national park?!

Transportation in Japan is simply amazing, as anybody who has ever visited this country knows. Therefore, there was a bus departing in the early morning from Beppu and going all the way to Kumamoto, on the other coast, stopping at the crater of Mount Aso, a famous volcano in the middle of Kyushu. Actually, Aso san is the biggest volcanic caldera in the world and has several volcanoes inside!! It felt really promising!

The ride was nice since we departed Beppu. Just from there, the road went up as we entered Aso san NP. The road twisted precariously on the gray volcanic slopes.

After several hours and a couple of renowned volcanoes, we made it to Aso, a little sleepy town just below three huge volcanoes. It was time to go to the crater.

The green warm lands of Kyushu turned into something more similar to high mountain landscape as the road went up.

Soon, the landscape turned surreal! "Oh my God! Is that an smoking volcano??!!" And yes, it was. And not the only one... or the largest... That morning I would visit one of the most amazing places I have ever been to. You need to be there to believe it.

The bus continued for a while and when it stopped, we were just there, below the crater of Aso san. It was time to climb it. The climb is really short (40 minutes) and ok for people in every physical condition. It was the third volcano I climbed and the third time I was going to looked down a crater, but there was a surprise.

On the way up, amazing landscapes and huge boulders which came flying from some previous explosion...

On the side of the road, many bunkers in case the mountain decided to unleash all its power and let us know we cannot control nature's rage.

And when I got to the top... the crater was full of a greenish liquid and was really "smoking out"! I have been to several volcanoes, taller than this, more famous, but they were always dormant. This was active and really boiling the strange liquid in its crater. I just could not believe my eyes. It was the beauty of power, the appeal of destruction. I had never felt before such a feeling... the feeling everything can go wrong the moment the mountain wants... we were at its mercy...

After spending some time looking like a small kid into the smoky crater, it was time to continue the hike and enjoy some really unbelievable scenery. So colorful, such a powerful sight.

This is the map which shows the crater and the hike.

Back on the bus, on the way to Kumamoto, and with the images of the crater still in my retina, time to see some tiny volcanoes... Was all this true, was I dreaming??

Some more photos and panoramas I just created and which can help you figure out if this was just a dream. :)

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