Aso Kuju is in Kumamoto and Oita prefecture, Kyushu, Japan, Earth. It’s also one of my family’s favourite vacation locations. We’ve been there around about five or six times in the past three years and have found a few places that are definitely worth checking out.
First though a bit about Aso. It’s the biggest caldera in Japan. Smack right bang in the middle of this caldera is two active volcanoes. One of them smokes quite regularly. You can go up to the top and look down into it on a good day. Of the trips we’ve only been able to do it once. We were up there for five minutes before they told us the gas was too dense and could result in death if we stayed there too long. To be honest though, while the volcanoes are pretty cool, there is way more to see and do in Aso than check them out.
Aso is a resort area. Resort in this case means a place with great big hot spring baths and table tennis. We haven’t actually been to many of them because there’s actually places better. There’s called pensions which is probably from French not English. Basically they are B&Bs. One of them that we always go back to is called Holahoo. It’s German themed with plenty of wooden nutcracker models everywhere. Although that’s not why we go there. They also serve the best food I have ever eaten. This is not an exaggeration. I have eaten some damn good food in my time but this place takes the cake. They also serve beers from Germany, Belgium and Czech. Not to mention a very smooth organic red wine. There usual deal is stay two nights get one dinner and two breakfasts. The dinner is a six course meal. The breakfast a one course. Another bonus of this place is that they are kid friendly. The owners are a family of three. On the first floor they have a well decked kids room. Not only that but if you obviously need a bit of a break the mum will help keep an eye on your kid. That alone makes this place one of our favourites.
Another place worth doing a day trip to is Kurokawa onsen village. For those not in the know an onsen is a hot spring bath. This place has at least twenty five different places to go. You can go to the information centre and get a three bath pass for 1300 yen. About $13 give or take. We debated whether or not we’d do three baths but honestly it’s quite easy if you’re doing the day there. In fact if you manage to do all the baths in the area you get massive prizes. The baths were all very warm. In fact the taps were usually dishing out eighty degree water. Making the average temperature about 55 degrees. Of course I’m talking Celsius here. You may wonder what’s so special about hot spring baths. It’s something you really need to experience to truly understand why it’s great. It’s really everything a bath should be. Relaxing and cleansing with a good atmosphere. What’s more if you have a baby that doesn’t like bathing I guarantee a few trips to hot spring bath will cure that. Our second little girl used to scream her guts out at the prospect of a bath. A few hot springs later and she is not a happy bather. As the link shows there are tonnes of places to stay there but you don’t need to stay the night to enjoy the baths.
A third place I must give a mention to is Kuju Kogen. This place has very large rooms you can easily fit a couple of families in. A nice restaurant. Not as good as the Holahoo but it’s still good food. There’s also a mirco-brewery nearby that does a good beer. The big win about this place is the location of it’s hot spring bath. This place hands down has the best view from a hot bath I have ever seen. It’s on a plauteau that stretches out for several kilometres. On the horizon you can see the two volcanoes smoking away in the distance.