Hmmm, I feel like today’s photo is a bit of a cop out, as I admittedly shot in September of last year. In my defense, I just arrived home tonight from a two and a half week trip to the US, so I really didn’t have a chance to take any pictures in Japan this month.
Last September, longtime friends of my husband came to visit for a week or so. They’re BIG into hiking so we knew a trip up to the Aso area would be a must and they did indeed tackle the volcano ridge hike in swirling mists. But we also wanted to spoil them a bit and booked us all into a ryokan for the night at Kurokawa Onsen, one of my favorite places in all of Japan and the ideal hot springs town.
On our drive up to Kurokawa Onsen, we pulled off at a viewpoint on the Yamanami Highway. I’ve stopped there before and it offers one of the best views of the Aso caldera – the still smoking volcanoes in the middle of the caldera, the fertile plains stretched out below, and the mountainous walls of the caldera itself which forms the outer boundary of the area (and indicates the massive extent of a much larger volcano thousands of years ago). On this trip, however, we were treated to fields of blooming cosmos, a prevalent flower in the Aso area and one that just seemed to carpet the caldera in reds, purples and pinks.
I love how in this picture you can see the riot of color in the front but you can also catch a glimpse of the scope of the caldera thanks to the mountains in the backdrop. I never tire of visiting the Aso region. When it’s time for us to move away from Kumamoto, this is one place for which my heart will never stop longing.