Right after Kumamoto, I spent one day in Aso, a volcanic area featuring one of the largest active volcanoes on earth, Nagadake. Due to volcanic activity, the access is sometimes closed for safety reasons but I was lucky, there was no such restriction on that day. The weather was a bit foggy, not the best for taking pictures but awesome in terms of atmosphere.
In Japanese, the word for volcano is 火山, which literally means a "fire (火) mountain (山)".
At the background on the following picture is the area where the crater can be viewed:
On the left, shelters have been built in case of emergency.
The best moment is when you reach the edge and see the crater at the bottom, it is just a grandiose sight! Over the years, rainfall created a lake and that seemingly alive milky blue water is beautiful!...as well as impressive, with a feeling of power that is hard to describe...
As I was about to leave to reach the other summit I wanted to see, I spotted a path leading to an area where tourists are not supposed to go. They don't know what they miss...I found myself in a totally deserted area with a surreal atmosphere, almost feeling as if I were on another planet! The presence of the fog greatly added to it, and I just can't describe that experience.
As I was progressing, the sulfur vapors were getting more and more dense...because I was getting closer to the crater, except this time I was coming from behind. And I eventually reached it...As I stuck my head over the final hillock, all of a sudden I felt the power of the volcano...And this time, there was no security barrier, I was right at the edge of the crater!
Sure, it was stupid to get so close: first, it is quite slippery and second, the amount of sulfur is extremely high. But anyway, it was an exceptional experience I am not going to forget anytime soon. My legs were still shaking when I left...
To finish, I went to the summit of Nijitake, an extinguished volcano located nearby. Here is what remains of the crater:
And some pictures of the surroundings:
From what I was told, it is absolutely gorgeous in summer.
There are many hiking trails in the area, I might go back someday...
By the time I came back to the guesthouse, a second customer had arrived. An amazing coincidence, he was the owner of the guesthouse I had booked for the next night in Beppu!