Majestic meadows spreading out like a sea of grass in all directions. An overwhelming volcano constantly reminding you of its presence through a pillar of smoke billowing out from the earth. These miracles of nature are symbols of Aso but to fully appreciate their greatness you often need special gear or preparations, something which both requires time and resources… So, how do you get around this problem as a traveler?
Well! Let us introduce you to a few people who dedicate their lives to enjoying nature and are more than willing to share these experiences with you!
Aso Kuju Cycle Tour
Firstly, located in the area of Sanai Kogen Rest House, north of the Aso caldera, is Trim Company, Aso Kuju Cycle Tour.
Centering around the Aso Kuju National Park where you can enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons, Aso Kuju Cycle Tour offers everything from guided tours where you leisurely visit local tourist spots, to full-scale mountain bike courses that will keep your adrenaline pumping.
If you have arrived in Aso by car or bus and want to dive into the flourishing nature you can also rent a bike to explore on your own.
Regarding equipment, Aso Kuju Cycle Tour has something for everyone. Genuine sport bicycles for both off-road and on-road, E-bikes, kids bikes, and even kids trailers. In other words, regardless of age or experience, everyone can enjoy cycling at Aso Kuju Cycle Tour!
Some tours are designed to be accessible for people who might not feel confident riding a bike or worries about their physical abilities.
While other tours are adventurous and will take you into the deep mountains or grazing lands that normally are inaccessible without permission. In other words, there is something for everyone who wants to experience the great nature of Aso with the help of a bicycle.
Aso also goes by the name of “The Cyclist’s Paradise” and it is not without a reason! Try out this exciting and refreshing way to experience the grandeur of the Aso area. Pro-tips, a visit to any of the local hot springs after a few hours of biking is simply euphoric!
At Aso Kuju Cycle Tour, they are very flexible so if you tell them what you’re looking for they will without a doubt be able to recommend the perfect bicycle experience for you!
Trim Company, Aso Kuju Cycle Tour
Address: 5621-7 Manganji, Minamioguni, Aso District, Kumamoto 869-2402
Google maps: https://g.page/asokujucycletour?share
If you drive around Aso on a clear day you will almost certainly see these vibrant adventurers breezing through the sky as easily as birds. The paragliders! Unless you have a serious fear of heights I’m sure you have thought, “THAT LOOKS AMAZING!!”.
Yes? Then this one is for you!
Head to Daikanbo, the most symbolic and well-known observatory in all of Aso. This will act as the launching pad for one of the most amazing experiences you will ever have! You will fly together with a professional paragliding instructor so no experience is necessary. Let yourself be swept away by this totally unique way to experience the breathtaking scenery that is the Aso caldera.
There are many different courses available! One flight normally lasts about 15 minutes and costs 15,000 yen. If you think that is a bit too expensive you can always go for this sunset flight where you fly through the evening sky as the setting sun colors the sky in orange. The price is only 8800 yen!
Do you speak Japanese? Do you host dreams of getting your own wings and being able to fly solo? Well, look no further! Because here they even provide courses where you can learn from a pro while practicing paragliding at lower heights.
This is probably one of the few places in the world where you can experience paragliding inside a volcanic caldera! What are you waiting for?!
※ Detailed information and links are provided below
Another inhabitant of the Aso sky is this spherical fellow. In the early mornings, you can often see the sight of colorful hot-air balloons floating peacefully through the blue skies. And, of course, you can go for a ride as well!
A feeling of excitement rises as the burner lets out a powerful sound and fills the balloon with hot air. The balloon is fastened to the ground with a rope but will bring you to a height of 40 meters. Looking down at the grand scenery as the sun slowly climbs up the crisp morning sky casting its light upon the still sleepy landscapes is a magical experience.
Paragliding, Hot-air balloon, and many other experiences are provided by none other than…
Aso Nature Land!
Apart from paraglider and hot-air balloon, Aso Nature Land offers a wide variety of activities that utilize nature such as hiking, yoga, and the new super popular adventure truck! The people of Aso Nature Land are true pros when it comes to having a blast outdoor so let them arrange an unforgettable experience just for you!
Aso Nature Land
Address: 1092ｰ1 Uchinomaki, Aso, Kumamoto 869-2301
March – October 09:00 – 18:00
September – February 09:00 – 17:00
Fixed holidays: Thursday (Open on national holidays)
※Click on reservations to see detailed information about all the activities/experiences
The match between the activity and the environment doesn’t get any better than this! One of the most unforgettable experiences you can have in the vast grasslands of Aso is, of course, horse riding!
In Aso, horse riding is actually something easily accessible and you need no previous training to experience the meadows of Aso from horseback! Here we will introduce El Patio Ranch in Aso. Here they offer everything from short trial experiences of about 20 minutes, to more advanced rides of up to 75 minutes. They even have packages including meals where you stay at the ranch and can ride multiple times!
And trust me, when you experience this once you will be very tempted to stay and ride more! The close contact with these majestic animals and the wonderful feeling as you ride through the high grass surrounded by the endless nature that stretches out as far as eyes can see is medicine for the soul.
Every horse has its own personality and even if you only ride for 20 minutes it’s impossible to not form a bond with the horse. This here is Vaquero which means “Cowboy” in Spanish!
As El Patio Ranch is located in the middle of nothingness, of course, the starry sky is amazing! Saddle up and go for a magical starlight horse ride as your instructor teaches you atmospheric stories about the beautiful astronomical objects twinkling above.
Speaking of the instructor, what brings it all to the next level is the wonderful and friendly staff! They all have an unrivaled love for horses and many of them have been working at the ranch for many years. The current owner even learned to ride at this very ranch when she was a child! They are all friendly, kind, funny, and many of them have lived abroad and speak English.
The environment, the horses, the staff, the food, everything about El Patio Ranch makes it worth a visit. The perfect experience for couples, friends, families! But be aware, if you visit once, you will want to quit your job and move in at the ranch!
Experience-based tours introducing the rural life in Japan
Lastly, we would like to introduce Satoyama Journey.
Satoyama Journey is a newly started project initiated by the company SMO Minamioguni as an attempt to introduce foreign visitors to the unique lifestyle and beautiful environment in Minamioguni and Aso. The long-term goal is also to help preserve local resources, traditions and prevent the depopulation of rural areas such as Minamioguni.
Acting as the guide is…
Well, it’s actually me! My name is Max and I moved here from Sweden about a year ago. Since then I have been getting to know the area and the locals and together we have built 3 different tours which can be experienced as either 1-day packages or separate activities.
They all follow unique themes that focus on different aspects of the culture in Minamioguni and Aso. The three themes are the forest, water, and culture.
We are particular about conducting private tours in small groups to enable and stimulate an active and meaningful interaction between locals and visitors. The tours are largely focused on experiencing aspects of life in rural Japan such as farming and providing the kind of experiences that you won’t be able to access without a guide and local knowledge.
But, of course, we can also provide customized tours if there are requests!
If you love Japan and want to go really deep and experience the culture and life in rural Japan, then how about trying out one of these guided activity-based tours?
Address: 1789-1, Akababa, Minamioguni-machi Aso-gun, Kumamoto, 869-2401, Japan
Opening hours: 09:00 – 17:00
Fixed holidays: None
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/jTGCNVvgSSwG6fUg8
So, with that, we will settle for now! What do you think? Aso is a place with a unique and impressive nature that doesn’t compare to anything else in Japan! Try out any of the above-mentioned experiences and you are sure to bring your journey to the next level!