Aso Sightseeing

This last Sunday a friend and I went for a little drive, and ended up in the Aso Mountain area. As many of you know, I’m a car nut, and Japan is car heaven. But what am I stuck with? A Toyota Corolla…. yes a Corolla. Now I’m not really complaining, it’s a nice car and all (power windows all around, power fold-in mirrors, and the standard GPS navigation kicks ass), but it handles like a drunk possum. My glory days of driving a real car are over for the meantime, but the dream lives on through my friends. The friend in this case just got his hands on a brand-spankin’ new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Wagon, which is only available in Japan and only 2500 are being made. He offered a ride along, and I quickly said yes. Here are a few pictures of the beginning of the drive:

What started as a little drive up in the mountains ended up with us going all the way to the Aso mountains, one of which is a volcano. There was a bit of snow on the road but mostly slush. Since the Evo was still on it’s dry pavement tires, we kept the speed down. Even so, it was handling the snow with ease. Good thing too, because here’s where we ended up:

The summit was just the beginning. I thought it was cold, but bareable. The building in the picture above is the entrance to the Ropeway, or what we usually call a gondola. It takes you up to the top of the volcano where you can actually look inside the crater. Up at the crater:

I think we spent maybe 2 or 3 minutes up at the top. Why’d I leave so soon you ask? Simply put, the idea of frostbite was not so appealing! My fingers were actually numb, and I couldn’t even take any more pictures. Fleece + jeans + no gloves does not bode well for 0 degree F temperatures. Hey, at least I had a hat! Before hypothermia set in, we got back inside and I warmed up by a gas heater. Even after living in Kumamoto for so long, my friend had never been to the Aso Volcano in the winter. He found out why this day.

The last picture taking spot on our way back was at some sort of Cafe/Museum. Actually I can’t remember anything about it except I was hungry. But across the street was a large field and a few hills. I could see the kids having fun out there with their sleds. Brought back memories of school days cancelled because of snow.

The rest of my pictures are here. I’m looking forward to seeing Aso in the summer time. People visit the area to escape the hellish heat of the valley. I am NOT looking forward to the summer I’ll tell you that. I’ve heard stories. I am scared…. very scared.