Aso-Kuju Tourism Zone
Aso Caldera -Grassland Crown filled with soul-
The grasslands that smoothly cover Aso’s outer rim.
From there you can seen the hidden beauty of the scenery of the caldera.
To the sound of the breeze blowing across this green velvet, the lives of the people that have come to inhabit this area have gradually added color.
The scent of the grass awakens something in the memory and makes the spirit take notice.
Both the people that live there, and visitors too, find themselves reflecting on what has passed and what is yet to come.
Located approximately in the center of Kyushu, Aso-Kuju National Park is a great example of the national parks of Japan. It contains the five peaks of Mt. Aso and one of the largest calderas in the world with a circumference of around 120km, as well as the seemingly endless grasslands of the north eastern Kuju mountain range. Even now it is an active volcano, and with this continuing activity it is a place where it is possible to feel the heartbeat of this planet.
The Aso area in Kumamoto Prefecture and the Taketa Kuju area in Oita Prefecture have beautiful panoramic scenery, and the Takachiho Area of Miyazaki Prefecture is covered with picturesque canyons formed from the lava flows from Mt. Aso. This large area that stretches across three prefectures offers a fantastic blend of natural splendour, history and culture. Aso offers a view that can be seen nowhere else in the world - a caldera with an outer rim of large hills in a circular formation with no lake its center, but instead home to 50,000 people.
The Characteristics of this Area
As a result of the wind that blows from the Ariake Sea in the west and up over the peaks of the central cones that are over 1,000 meters in altitude, the Aso Mountain range gets over 3,000mm of rainfall a year. Yakushima and Owase have some of the highest rainfall amounts in the nation. The average annual temperature in the Aso caldera is around 13 degrees, with cool summers and harshly cold highland winter weather.
There is an abundance of groundwater, and springs are numerous. The grasslands have been used to farm cattle and horses throughout the ages, and cut grass has featured heavily in the lives of the locals, for example for feeding animals. The grasslands are also home to continental or northern species of plants like Higotai, and also many rare animal species have been seen. Also in the areas of the central volcanic cones, clusters of Kyushu Azalea can be found.
In the past the Aso mountains were used for religious training, and even today there are events and rituals centered around agriculture. There are many fire rituals that have been passed down to the festival celebrations that occur today. Furthermore, the Aso-Kuju region is home to a unique culture with each area having burning off of the fields in spring, and picturesque rural landscapes that are recognized as globally important agricultural heritage systems.
With its developed agriculture, there are plenty of blessing from from the mountains such as rice and vegetables. The locals have always been very fond of traditional homestyle cuisine such as Aso dengaku skewers and those using Aso takana greens. Raising and fattening the brown akaushi cows is common, and cooking with the lean meat from this cattle is healthy and popular. There are many different food cultures and produce in the area such as using the geothermal hot springs to steam dishes.