Plants & Animals

Aso-Kuju National Park

The ecology of this park can be roughly classified into three types: wilderness with volcanic gas fumes; forests covering the mountain base; and grassland maintained by controlled burning and mowing. Plants such as Rhododendron kiusianum and cowberry grow in clusters around the volcano. Many endangered plants grow in the grasslands, such as Echinops setifer and Viola orientalis.

Endangered butterflies such as the Shijimi large blue (Shijimiaeoides divinus), and insects such as the Kyushu-ezozemi cicada and Daikoku-kogane scarab beetle live in the park's forests and on its grasslands. Birds here include the meadow bunting, chestnut-eared bunting, Japanese reed bunting and black-browed reed warbler.



Rhododendron kiusianum, a member of the azalea family, grows in bare volcanic mountainside soil in Kyushu. The mountains are covered in pink when its flowers bloom in May and June.


Echinops Setifer

This rare plant spread from the Asian continent in the Ice Age. The spherical flowers bloom in azure blue in August and September, and their leaves resemble those of the thistle and have prickles. Because it lives on grasslands, it is susceptible to extinction as grasslands disappear.

Echinops setifer


Shijimi Large Blue

One of the characteristic creatures of Aso-Kuji National Park is the Shijimi large blue (Shijimiaeoides divinus), a rare species of butterfly that eats grass.

Shijimi large blue


Despite their name, these cattle are brown rather than red. They're used in agricultural work, and have been raised by farming households in Aso for centuries. Japanese Browns create an idyllic scene as graze their way through the grasslands.


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