Getting there & around
Aso is on the JR Hōhi line between Kumamoto (tokkyū, ¥2180, 70 minutes) and Ōita (tokkyū, ¥3490, two hours). Some buses from Beppu (¥3080, 2¾ hours) continue to the Aso-nishi cable-car station (an extra ¥1130).
To get to Takamori on the southern side of the crater, transfer from the JR Hōhi line at Tateno (¥360, 30 minutes) to the scenic Minami-Aso private line, which terminates at Takamori (¥470, 30 minutes). Buses from Takamori continue southeast to the mountain resort of Takachiho (¥1280, 70 minutes, three daily).
Buses operate approximately every 90 minutes from JR Aso station via the youth hostel and volcano museum to Aso-nishi cable car station (¥470, 35 minutes). The first bus up leaves at 8.37am, with the last return trip down from the cable-car station at 5pm.
Bike rentals are available at Aso station (¥300, two hours). Cars can be rented for the day at Eki Rent-a-Car (34-1001; www.ekiren.co.jp in Japanese), opposite the tourist information office adjacent to the train station, from ¥6000.
A toll (¥560) is required on a portion of the road skirting the crater. If you hire a car, there’s only one toll road in the area, from Aso-nishi to Kato-nishi (¥560, 1.5km).