From Kumamoto to Aso! Rental car edition!
If you can rent a car and drive in Japan then it is without a doubt the best way to experience Aso. The freedom to go wherever you want and explore every nook and cranny of this wonderful place is unbeatable. But if you aren’t familiar with driving in Japan it can be confusing at times. Even if you use a GPS. In this article, we will go through the road to Aso step by step to ensure that your trip to Aso is as painless and stress-free as possible.
Step one, how to get from Kumamoto Station to the entrance of the so-called, Milk Road, the road that will take you to Aso.
After having finished exploring Kumamoto castle, Suizenji Park and everything else Kumamoto city has to offer, or maybe you have even just arrived in Kumamoto, either way, Kumamoto station is a good starting point when setting out for the Aso area. There are also a great number of companies in the vicinity renting out cars making it a convenient place to start!
So, let’s head out and go through the road to Aso step by step.
Take the Shirakawa exit (白川口) and go straight out and continue east.
You will keep going straight ahead for a while.
Keep going in the same direction along national highway route 57.
Around here it can be a good idea to place yourself in the leftmost lane if you’re not already there.
At this intersection prepare to make a left turn to keep going along national highway route 57.
After this, we will keep going straight ahead for a while so feel free to use the second or third lane if you want.
This place can be slightly confusing, the road branches of and you should keep following the road that curves slightly to the right along national highway route 57. If you use a GPS it might tell you to turn right which could confuse you into placing yourself in the rightmost lane which you shouldn’t. Be careful here and drive safely!
After about 30 minutes of driving along national highway route 57, you will finally arrive at the entrance to Aso. Keep your eyes open for this green pointy object at the left-hand side, take a left turn after passing it and you will find yourself at the infamous Milk road.
We still have a bit left before reaching Aso so let’s take a short break here and check out how to get to this point from Kumamoto’s other entrance, namely Kumamoto Airport!
If you come to Kumamoto by plane from Tokyo, Osaka and such, Kumamoto Airport is where you will find yourself.
As you exit the arrivals gate, look to your left and you will see numerous reception desks for companies renting out cars. The English “Car Rental”-text is really small so it can be a bit hard to see at first. Here you can get yourself some wheels!
Ready and set to go, let’s head out towards Aso. Exit the airport and continue in the right direction.
After you pass through a short tunnel you will make a right turn toward Aso/Kikuchi. There are two lanes for turning right here but let’s stay in the left one.
When you have turned right, the two lanes will merge into one.
Soon after, you will once again take a right turn to head towards national highway route 57.
As soon as you have turned right, turn right once again to finally enter national highway route 57.
From here you will keep going straight until you find yourself at the intersection marked by the green pointy object mentioned before.
So, let’s do the final stretch towards Aso!
You have now passed the green pointy object on the left-hand side of national highway route 57 and will here take a left turn onto prefectural road route 339, also known as the Milk road.
Soon you will find yourself at this intersection, here you should make a right turn and head towards “Daikanbo”.
At the next intersection make yet another right turn. There are many curved roads from here on so let’s be careful and drive safely!
Next, we have a large uncontrolled intersection so proceed with care. If you continue straight ahead this road will connect to places such as the famous observatory Daikanbo or the idyllic hot spring area Kurokawa onsen. This time we will head towards Aso city so instead, take a right turn.
At your right-hand side, you will see the Aso caldera extending out below you with its beautiful rice fields and breathtaking scenery. But let’s keep our eyes on the road and continue along the curvy road towards the bottom of the caldera.
After you have arrived safely at the bottom of the caldera you will keep going straight until you find an intersection that crosses national highway route 57. Here you will take a left turn!
About 15 minutes later you will find yourself at another intersection where you will take a left towards Aso station.
At long last, you have arrived safe and sound at this old-fashioned atmospheric building which is Aso station.
The road to Aso might take some time and partly turn and twist to the point that your head starts spinning. But the road is also lined with amazing scenery and lets you feel the great nature of the Aso area. Take your time, drive safely, and don’t hesitate to stop at the different lookout spots and other interesting places along the way!