Aso is known for its beautiful natural features such as the vast caldera and the powerful active volcanic crater. But while traveling, you often want to enjoy the valuable hours after dark as well! So, what do you do in this rural area during the late hours of the day? Let us give you a few suggestions!
Nr. 1 – Let yourself be captivated by a natural dome of stars!
Hiranodai Viewpoint also known as the Lover’s Hill, is located slightly above Kurokawa Onsen. Hiranodai is often introduced as a spot where you can enjoy an undisturbed view of the wonderful Aso scenery.
To visit Hiranodai during the day is the norm but this is actually one of my favorite spots after dark!
Depending on the season, it can be quite cold so make sure to dress properly and bring some hot chocolate or other warm drink to keep the body temperature up!
If you still feel cold after having enjoyed the starry sky, you can always sink your body into an onsen at any of the nearby establishments!
Telephone: 0967-42-1111 (Minamioguni Tourism Association)
Nr.2 – Cocktail under the shimmering stars
To enjoy the stars you don’t necessarily need to venture all the way out into the middle of nowhere.
If you want a more relaxed and mature way to enjoy the beauty of the night, there are options for you as well!
In Uchinomaki Onsen area you can find the greatly esteemed ryokan Sozankyo that offers a slightly unconventional facility for a traditional Japanese inn.
A quiet bar counter lit up by spotlights to create a mature atmosphere. Here you can enjoy Shochu gathered from all around Kyushu. But this is only the top of this fantastic iceberg…
Enjoy the sunset and the starry sky which follows closely, all while sipping away at high-quality cocktails or whatever you prefer to drink!
This place is even enjoyable on the colder days thanks to these awesome sphere-shaped and heated tents that lets you enjoy the outdoor feeling and night sky even as the colder days roll around. In the winter they also offer hot wine which we warmly recommend!
Open hours: 20:00 – 24:00
Table charge: 500 yen (Free for staying customers)
Nr. 3 – You won’t get closer to the stars than this!
What many people mention when they see the Aso night sky is the number of stars and how close the night sky feels!
So, let’s take this wonderful night sky brimming with countless stars and bring it even closer! In Ubuyama Mura, a new astronomical observatory was established in 2016 that will bring the stars to you!
This is the MVP of Ubuyama Tenmondai, the giant telescope!
This is a great and affordable way to experience the already amazing starry sky of Aso in a new way! Especially recommended if you have children who surely will love the giant telescope.
Reservation is required though so make sure to call in advance!
Ubuyama Tenmondai (Astronomical Observatory)
Monday – Friday – Saturday
April-Sept 19:00 – 22:00
Oct-March 18:00 – 22:00
Cost: Adult 300 yen, Children 200 yen (younger than 7 years old, free of charge)
Nr. 4 – Horseback riding under a starry sky!
Horseback riding is a popular activity in Aso but most people mainly associate it with riding through the highlands in the morning or during the day. What few know is that one of the best experiences is horseback riding after dark!
A ride as the sun sets is magical as well!
But the true magic starts when the sun sets and the stars begin to twinkle high above which creates a very special mood as you sit safely atop of your horse. Your guide will tell you stories about the stars as you slowly ride through the quiet landscapes. This is a cozy and unique experience that truly lets you enjoy Aso after dark.
El Patio Ranch
Open hours: 09:00 – 17:00
Fixed holidays: None
Cost: From 4000 yen and up depending on the course
Nr. 5 – Kurokawa Onsen’s limited winter wonderland!
In Kurokawa Onsen (and other places around Minamioguni) you can experience a very special night scenery that comes around once every year.
That special scenery goes by the name “Yu-akari (湯あかり）”. Every year from the end of December until the beginning of April, with Kurokawa as the flagship, the onsen areas around Minamioguni gets illuminated by these wondrous spheres. This annual tradition but was born from a need to control the quickly growing bamboo forests. To prevent the bamboo from overwhelming the scenery it has to be cut down regularly. Instead of just burning the bamboo, the people of Minamioguni started to create these beautiful lights and decorate the town during the dark winter days.
These countless lights that you can find all around Minamioguni during this period are more or less solely made by locals and in a nice and heartwarming way, it brings the town together.
This is a limited away so come to Minamioguni and visit Kurokawa Onsen and all the other places where you can watch the Yu-akari. Great for Instagram pictures as well!
Kurokawa Onsen (Tourist information center)
Nr. 6 – Exploring Uchinomaki Onsen’s nightlife!
Uchinomaki Onsen is a famous hot spring area in Aso city that offers much more than only lodging! This is a place where you can delve into a deep and atmospheric nightlife! So get off the bed at your ryokan and take this opportunity to explore!
Even though Uchinomaki is a small area, there are around 26 izakayas where you can enjoy drinks and food. The staff is friendly, the mood is lively, and the atmosphere is original and unique!
For example, this Izakaya called Takenko is loved by locals and famous for a certain reason. As soon as you enter, the staff will confirm that you intend to drink more than only one beer/drink. Apparently the owner is very particular about Takenko being a drinking establishment before being a food establishment. So if you don’t drink enough, he might get angry and throw you out! I’ve never seen this happen though!
Check out the link below for more information on the Uchinomaki nightlife!
There you have it, 6 recommended ways, all with a slightly different approach on how to enjoy the nights here in the countryside surrounding Mt. Aso!
There is a lot more to see and experience, but this is a good start!
Come and enjoy fulfilled days and nights in Aso!