Aso City, Kumamoto Prefecture

Michi-no-Eki (Roadside Station) Aso

Sharing and caring for the culture and natural beauty of Aso, home to one of the world’s largest calderas



Aso City is nestled amid the natural splendor of Kumamoto Prefecture. The region’s symbol is undoubtedly Mt. Aso, crowned with one of the world’s largest calderas, measuring 25 km north-south, 18 km east-west, and 128 km in circumference. “Mt. Aso” is a generic name for an area that includes the “Five Mountains of Aso” home to the active volcano, Mt. Aso Nakadake Crater. The idyllic scenery of mountains and meadows, the history and culture of people who live in the caldera, and hot springs born from volcanic activity are some of what this renowned region has to offer.

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    Aso City
    Photo by PIXTA
  • Michi-no-Eki Aso: the hub of tourism in Aso

    “Michi-no-Eki” are roadside stations found throughout Japan along major roads. They serve as regional tourism hubs filled with sightseeing information and specialty goods of the area. Michi-no-Eki Aso, next to JR Aso Station, is a popular tourist spot offering locally produced vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy products, and processed products. Also available are soft-serve ice cream made with fresh milk and handmade bento boxes filled with Aso delicacies, which can be enjoyed in the dining area onsite. Michi-no-Eki Aso is always a lively place bustling with souvenir shoppers, drivers on break, and travelers researching their next adventure at the tourist information center.

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    Michi-no-Eki Aso
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    Sales of local fruits and vegetables from Aso
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    A shop selling soft-serve ice cream, hot dogs, and other snacks
  • Bokuya Guided Tour: a new mission to protect Aso’s precious environment

    At Michi-no-Eki Aso, in addition to selling specialty goods and giving tourist information at the counter, the staff also run initiatives to make Aso even more fun for travelers. One such initiative is the Bokuya Guided Tour. The prairies of Aso, one of the largest such areas in Japan, are not only features of the natural environs, but also pastureland tended by human hands for more than a millennia. As the number of farmers declined, Bokuya Guided Tour was started to make use of abandoned or fallow tracts for sustainable tourism. Participants pay a conservation fee and guide fee to enjoy mountain biking, trail running, trekking, and sometimes cosplay amid these grasslands that are normally off limits. “It’s an exceptional experience to have the vast fields all to yourself. After riding a bit on a mountain bike tour, some people just spend the rest of the day in their tents reading a book and taking in the view of the prairies” said Franck, a French staff member of the information center.

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    A field of grass in Aso
    Photo by PIXTA
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    Pasture field burning
    Photo by PIXTA
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    Bokuya Guided Tour
  • We talked to Franck about the Aso area and the attractions of Michi-no-Eki Aso.

    Q:What kind of person do you think would most enjoy Aso?

    A:I’d recommend the area to anyone who wants to discover the authentic Japan. In Aso there is a unique natural environment with landforms sculpted by volcanoes, and a culture created by people living here. Aso’s caldera is one of the largest inhabited volcanic craters in the world. Standing on the grassland at the edge and peering into the caldera is something very difficult to experience anywhere else.

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    The huge caldera of Mt. Aso
    Photo by PIXTA
  • Q:When do you think foreign tourists should visit the tourist information center?

    A:For a more fulfilling stay in Aso, I definitely suggest stopping by. Many foreign tourists come to ask about regulations around Mt. Aso Nakadake’s active volcanic crater, or because they need luggage storage. Long term foreign residents in Japan are happy to be able to speak their mother tongue in the countryside, and the conversation often flows to topics that have nothing to do with tourism. For example, I’ve been asked why people say “Irasshaimase” loudly when customers enter a store in Japan. Getting answers to such questions that arise while traveling deepens your experience. For travelers, think of us not only as guides for Aso tourism, but rather as partners happy to answer questions about anything that comes to mind.

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    Michi-no-eki Aso Tourist Information Center
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    Left: Franck, Right: Mr. Shimojo
  • Q:What message would you like to give travelers from overseas?

    A:Aso is a place to find the real Japan, not only a region of great natural beauty, but also home to enduring traditions passed down through generations. We think of Aso as a vast, roofless museum, and the cultural and scenic features we wish to preserve for future generations such as the Nakadake Crater and Aso Shrine, we call exhibits of this museum. As an information center for such a place, we strive to give tourists great recommendations and share information on our website and SNS for future travelers. We hope you’ll come and see the many exhibits cherished by all who live here. I’m sure everyone who visits will fall in love with Aso.

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    Hifuri Shinji at Aso Shrine
    Photo provided by Kumamoto Prefectural Tourism Promotion Division
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    Nakadake Crater
    Photo by PIXTA
  • The staff at Michi-no-Eki Aso await your visit as they continue to protect the precious nature and culture of Japan!

*The information herein is as of January 2023.

Facility information

  • Hours of Operation
  • 9:00 - 18:00
  • Holidays
  • Open 365 days
  • Address
  • 〒869-2225 1440-1 Kurokawa, Aso City, Kumamoto
  • Access
  • 1-minute walk from JR Aso Station
  • TEL
  • 0967-35-5088