Monday, October 10, 2005

Aso-san Part One

This visit to the Aso-san is an experience most unique and never to be forgotten.
Aso is the main town in the Aso-san area (incredibly small town). To get to the summit, one can catch local buses that operate hourly from the JR Aso Station to the Aso-Higashi cable car station (420 yen).
A series of Aso-san eruptions over the past 30 million years have drastically changed the landscape all around the volcano surroundings. Shown is a little shrine atop Mount Aso.
As the result of four large eruptions (last dated some 100,000 years ago), the Aso-san volcano caldera is triggered and formed (shown here is a part of the caldera collapse - emptying of the magma chamber beneath the volcano and collapse of the volcano into itself).
The central cone group consists of now five smaller mountains within the outer rim - Eboshi-dake, Kijima-dake, Naka-dake, Neko-dake and Taka-dake (the highest point, 1592 m).
The crater of Naka-dake continuously emits smoke and still an active volcano. The first documented eruption in Japan was in Naka-dake in 553. Since then Naka-dake has erupted 167 times. Although this is a very popular tourist destination, only when Aso-san's Naka-dake is not misbehaving can visitors have access all the way up to the rim of the crater (by cable car from Aso-Higashi Station, 410 yen each way).
Most eruptions of Naka-dake are small to moderate in size. These explosions produce ash or block deposits. Concrete bomb shelters are built (not shown) in case of unexpected eruptions.
Another picture - landscape of the volcano caldera.
Walking on dry volcano ash.
Layers of rock that has changed in texture and composition by heat during the different volcanic eruptions
Hiking is possible to discover the scenic wonders of Mount Aso.
The hike up was tough (although we did expect some tough trail) especially on a hot day. But with spirits up, we reached the peak (not the highest one).
The peak offered some breathtaking views over the Aso-san area.
Buddha statue and the smoke-emitting Naka-dake (as background).
We had Dango-jiru soup set for dinner - thin and flat dumplings, made by kneading a mixture of flour and salt, stewed along with a variety of other ingredients in miso soup.
The soup was a little too salty. I added rice. Not a bad combination.
That night we stayed at the Aso Youth Hostel. Quite good for such low price (2450 yen).

Eddie has better pictures of Aso-san on his blog. Do check it out. To be continued (last chapter)...


Primrose said...

Very nice photos with texture and contours taken from different perspectives. It exudes a melancholic mood.

Anonymous said...

Yeah low price hostel.. so cheap that it caused Patrick a 2 days flu...hahha

Sidney said...

I see I missed a lot. Thanks for the pictures. I will need to go back one day.
I slept in the Youth Hostel too but in my memory it was quite run down. This looks like a 5 Star accomodation ! :-)

Anonymous said...

Unique experience as in this is your first time travelling with Eddie! Hahahahahah! Yeah, I love Aso. Gorgeous place.

Patrick Leong said...

primrose : perhaps the black and white mode created the somber melancholic mood in those pictures.

eddie : yes. i forgot to mention that too. i am allergic to dusty blankets.

sidney : yea. the place does look quite nice, inexpensive and quite comfortable. as we walked up the hill from the station to the youth hostel, we passed a graveyard. it was a little scary. thank god there weren't pictures of the deceased on the tombstones. else it will be scarier !

ai ling : lol. i mean aso-san - a unique experience. not him !

Eddie said...

ewwww... unique experience
come AL, Patrick englsih is not as good as you.. ( neither do i )

pat : i told you, simple english not necessarily dull. keke

zbjernak said...

this looks like alien place...
so lifeless

Amanda Brightwell said...

Love the black and white shots. It may be barren, but I think that place is quite romantic.

Anonymous said...

can't comment on those seneric photos since I'm so craving for food now. But I totally dig your special combination of miso soup & rice. I've tried that for many times too.


Patrick Leong said...

frannie : hi. has been a long time since i last heard from you. everything ok back in taiwan ? miso soup and rice - that was my first time. not bad. but i did not finish the rice. the dinner set was too huge portion. did you know charlene just recovered from some bad fever ?!?