This is a three day walking tour of the Aso region of Kumamoto Prefecture, covering some of Aso's best nature spots and cultural locations. Tour attendees will have the opportunity to meet locals as well as try regional produce and cuisine. On the first day we will visit Kumamoto Castle before travelling to Aso for a walk on a historical samurai road and a dip in the old hot spring baths of Suzume no Yu. On the second day, we will go to Kokuzo Shrine, home to the remains of a great 2000 year old tree, Teno Osugi which came down in a typhoon in 1991. We will then take a trek up to the famously turquoise crater of Mt Nakadake - one of the peaks of Mt Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan. On the third day, we will take a walking tour to Nishinomiya and Yasaka Shrines, before heading to the famous Marukichi soy sauce factory and a Reizan sake brewery for a tour and tasting.Tour provided by Heartland Japan http://heartlandjapan.com/.
Day 1: Kumamoto & Aso - Samurai Road Walk & Hot Spring Tour (Lunch & Dinner Included)Participants of this tour will meet at 10:00 at Kumamoto Station. From there we visit Kumamoto Castle before enjoying local-style ramen. We will then head for Aso City, located 90 minutes away, by private coach.En-route to Aso city we will walk the Futae no Touge Pass, an elevated mountain pass 683 meters (2240.81 feet) high. Futae no Touge Pass is a portion of the Bungo Circuit, a historic trail used by the feudal lords of the Kumamoto Domain to travel to Tokyo, in a practice known as sankin-kotai. Relive history and walk in the footsteps of samurai as you trek the 1.6 kilometer (1 mile) long stone paved “Ishi-datami no Michi”, the longest of its kind in Japan.Afterwards, we will head to Suzume no Yu, where one can take a dip in Suzume no Yu baths, a famous hot spring with five different baths to enjoy.Day 2: Aso - Volcano Trek & Cultural Tour (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included)We leave the hotel and depart for Aso Shrine. Along the way, we will stop at the former girls school, which was built in the early 20th century. The charm of this old building is accented by the sounds of bubbling water on the premises, due to the large presence of spring water in the area. Lining the sando (the procession to Aso Shrine) are plenty of unique shops that offer an impressive variety of souvenirs and delicious Japanese foods.Afterwards, we will make our way to Kokuzo Shrine, marked by its impressive goshinboku, Teno Osugi, a divine tree in which kami (spirits and deities) reside. We will also visit the 6th century tombs of Kami-Mikura and Shimo-Mikura.Lunch will be at a local eatery, and is followed by an afternoon trek to Mount Nakadake, one of Mount Aso’s Five Peaks.Day 3: Culture & Local Produce Tour (Breakfast & Lunch Included)We will start the day from Nishinomiya Shrine before heading to Minamiaso Village and Yasaka Shrine. Note how the stone staircase of Yasaka Shrine and its torii, or gateway, are joined by the Megane Bridge, a famous arched stone bridge. From Yasaka Shrine we will venture in the direction of Nishinomiya Shrine for a 90 minute walk. Among the kami worshiped at Nishinomiya Shrine are the daimyojin, the “great shining deities” of Aso, Kosa and Takaki.Lunch will be at a soba restaurant in Minamiaso Village, followed by a tour of nearby Takamori. We will visit Hizenya, a craft shop famous for producing Marukichi Soy Sauce and Miso. Then to a sampling tour at Reizan, an iconic sake (rice wine) maker of Kumamoto.The tour will end back at Kumamoto Station at around 6pm.