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Mount Aso (Takadake, Nakadake)

I hiked Japan’s largest active volcano, Mount Aso. There are 5 main peaks. I climbed the highest peak, Takadake (高岳 1,592m) and the most active peak, Nakadake (中岳 1,506m). After the big Kumamoto earthquake the trail was closed. It recently opened up again so I jumped at the chance to climb one of Japan’s 100 famous mountains.

Mt. Aso has one of the largest calderas in the world. 17km east to west and 25km north to south. Mt. Aso’s last eruption was in July 2019.

I started my hike at the Sensuikai Parking Lot (google maps) and climbed up to Takadake via the Sensuikyo-one trail (仙酔峡尾根ルート). This trail is rocky and is a bit of a scramble up to the ridge, but it’s not too difficult. The walk along the ridge to Takadake is beautiful with great views either side.

The Takadake peak is big. There were quite a few people there despite it being a weekday. I stopped here to have my lunch. From here it’s a short walk across to Nakadake.

Nakadake is a small peak, but it has fantastic views of the crater. Absolutely stunning! I took a short break here, then went down towards Kakohigashi Observatory.

This trail has great views again as you get closer to the crater. I didn’t visit the observatory (next time!). Instead I went down to the abandoned ropeway station and followed the trail down to the parking lot.

⚠️ There are signs along the way warning of the dangers of volcanic gas. If it smells bad, head back. Don’t consider this hike if you suffer from asthma, bronchitis, or a heart condition. Since 1980 more than 70 people have been hospitalized from volcanic gasses. Although extremely rare, people have been killed by flying rocks.

Check out my video of the hike here:

This was really a fantastic hike and a special experience. Many thanks to Wes Lang ( for the course suggestion! He has a great Japan Hiking guide book (available to buy here).


Check out my pictures:

All activity data and map at

Thanks for reading! See you in the next hike!

Published by Wombat

Hiking in Kyushu, Japan Kofun tombs & Trail cam

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