Clear skies and nice temperature. Excellent weather to get into the mountains, which we are going to do today.
Aso Volcano in Aso-Kuju National Park
The trip is early and long to Aso Station. We did manage to get hold of the limited express, which saves us from hopping on and off of 4 trains. Back to Oita only 2 of such trains travel, so we need to carefully plan the day. The limited express takes roughly 2 hours. We arrive in also sunny Aso station. We want to buy tickets for the bus, but we first need to see the information center says the ticket office. As there is a warning and closure going on at the moment, because of toxic gasses that are lethal to humans. They take that very serious here, especially after recently two tourist died of this. Indeed, at the information office we hear the cable car is closed and nobody is allowed to enter near 1 km of the crater, due to the wind direction. We buy bus tickets to go up the mountain, but until the museum, which is a little below this “No Go”-area. We can see from here the smoke coming out of the volcano and being blown over the sightseeing area. No cars or cable cars go up to the top. We are unlucky, but we can not change the mountain nor the weather. So we enjoy the museum instead.
At the end of the museum, its almost empty by now, there is a live webcam view including joysticks to controle the webcam. Of course I play with this and zoom in and out etc. I also pan the camera over the edge of the volcano, just to check if there is indeed still no human activity. But.... I see people!!! Whow. I zoom in on the road, and see cars going up. Also the cable car is running. So we run out of the museum to the bus stop to get to the top. Missed the bus with 5 minutes and the next is in a few hours, so we decide to walk up hill. A big climb, but we made it to the cable cars. A large amount we pay and reach the top. To be able to get to the right train back to the hotel (only 1 in the afternoon travels) we have only 5 minutes to watch the top, get back with the cable car and get the last bus... we decide to stay longer and or go hitch hiking or catch a train 3 hours later. It would be a pity not to enjoy an active volcano, largest in Japan, one of the largest in the world and now with good wind conditions open for public.
Its a marvelous view, horrible smell and exceptional good weather. The looks inside the crater amazes us. The colors, the bubbles, the smoke, the gasses... whow.
A band in Holland we listen to and visit concerts of, is “De Dijk”(The Dyke), They have a song “Dansen op de vulkaan”(dancing on the volcano). So I decided to act accordingly, and started to dance on the volcano and let Sheila tape it on video. Many people watch that grazy Dutch guy, but enjoy it also and smile too. ;-)
After a while we go to the cable car down hill and to the parking spot to do some hitch hiking. No luck. So we already strike through the possibility to reach the train station in time. We start to walk down, towards the museum again. In the meanwhile I keep my thumbs up and many cars pass by. Two stop, but it ends up they do not go to the station. But than, one car stops. A friendly Japanese gentleman lives near the station and is proud on the Aso Mountain so always is willing to help tourists. We now are able to reach the station in time! Lucky us again. We have some great talks with the man and reach the station in 45 minutes or so. The slow but with a nice view on the mountains train ride starts according to train schedule and we are on our way to the hotel.
A few hours later we end this great day dancing on the volcano.