Bike Tour Kumamoto to Aso: Sleeping Buddah on bed of clouds (Laputa)
-The asobi gokoro Guesthouse -Takachiho Gorge -Aso Mountain -Shirakawa Spring Water -Sleeping buddah on bed of clouds (Laputa) If you talked to anyone about going to Kyushu, the first place they will talk about is the Aso Mountain. It’s a active volcano that constantly spewed out volcanic smoke which sometimes made it inaccessible to tourists due to the heavy toxic smoke. Aso city is a town inside of a caldera that is 12 miles long and 8 miles wide. A natural phenomenon can’t even do justice for a caldera of this size and with about three active volcanoes in the middle and there were also unbelievable natural destinations that will touch your souls and will literally silence you for minutes in amusement, this actually happened to seven of us as we reached, “Raputa.”
The ride up to the caldera was bit challenging but the hard part is actually getting out of the caldera on the north end.
Another traditional style Japanese house
Kikuchi family may be from this region.
asobi gokoro, $20 a night. Worth every yen as there are many activities offered here, and the owner gives a free tour of Raputa, which was the most amazing scenery I saw in all of Japan, and perhaps in my whole lifetime.
The guesthouse has Japanese style with wooden interior, it was the most impressive guesthouse I’ve ever been in.
At the guesthouse, you can pay five dollars and get a cooking session, here we made the seafood pancake and pork.
This fried tofu with nato beans inside is supposedly the most popular dish in this guesthouse. This would be the only time when I enjoyed eating nato beans. This night was very fun, cooking with other guests as we got to know each other over some beers. The German girl decided that she was too tired to stay just after the food was all finished. Yes, go to sleep and we will clean up after you. This is where western mindset drives me insane.
The Nissan rental car that only cost around $30 a day. Me, Tatsu, and the girl from Germany decided to go sightseeing together. I was very relieved that I did not have to ride up to the top of Aso on the bike. However, the view from the back seat was very suffocating and the visual was very limited. I was able to recognize the difference from being on the saddle for so long and the freedom to stop whenever I wanted, but the car was like seeing the place through a tube and you could not stop to really take in the scenery.
People came and bottled their water here. It would be a dream to drink this water on a daily basis. My dream is to live next to a spring water source. That dream will become reality one day.
Shirakawa water source is chosen as 100 selections of famous clear water of Ministry of the Environment. The river pond was crystal clear and the water tasted better than Asahi beers.
Clear as glass, this was the work of Aso Geopark.
Takachiho Gorge, an amazing beautiful place with many waterfalls.
You can rent a canoe for $20 here and paddle for an hour. I was in charge of the oars and although I was terrible in the beginning, I got a little better and kept us dry at least.
Tatsu, very lively, easygoing friendly guy who has worked in a guesthouse before, and was now traveling while heading towards his hometown. He let me borrow his pants since I didn’t have any and ended up just giving it to me for the road. Nice guy.
The smoke smelled like rotten eggs.
The topography at the top of Aso reminded me of Total Recall, the movie where Arnold’s eyeballs start popping out as he gasps for oxygen.
Top of Aso Geopark. It was hard to breathe when there was a lot of smoke coming out.
A tiny caldera
Behind the waterfall.
Nabegataki, Waterfall at Oguni, Kyushu Falling water can be seen from behind.
The large gingko of Shimojo has a circumference of 9.6 meters and is 25 meters high. It is more than 1,000 years old and has been designated a natural monument by the Japanese government.
My first horse meat. This area is known for this dish. It was served raw, and the portion was really tiny. It tasted like raw beef.
The winding roads here seemed amazing. Only if I had my jitensha. If I were to go here again, I would camp out, enjoy the sunset and sunrise, and just cruise downhill.
The mountains in the background is shaped like a sleeping Buddha in the clouds. Absolutely stunning. The layer of clouds over the city of Aso can only be seen at this time early in the morning, and to see the sleeping Buddha, you need lots of luck. Boy was I lucky. If you go to Kyushu, this is a must see destination. It will literally leave you speechless for a while. Right when we got here, everyone just went completely silent for couple of minutes in astonishment, and just stared at this out of the world, fantasy like place called “Laputa.” “The castle in the sky,” Japanese cartoon was created based on this place.
Even at six in the morning, there were many people with huge DSLR cameras waiting for their perfect shots. This place isn’t listed anywhere on the travel guide, at the right time of the day, it is truly the most beautiful place in Kyushu, if not the world.
Silence, the Buddah is sleeping on bed of clouds
Look at the details on the face of the Buddah
The crew that decided to wake up to witness the Laputa. The best decision I’ve ever made.
This is a guest blog post by Dae Choi Thursday November 7, 2013
2013/11/07-11: Kumamoto to Aso: Sleeping Buddah on bed of clouds (Laputa)