Aso: Life in the Caldera *RERUN
Aso is a vast caldera - the largest in Japan. There, people live together with an active volcano. They revere and pray to the volcano, which has created such awe-inspiring scenery. Spring, flames engulf the grassy fields of Aso. From the blackened earth, new shoots of green emerge, and are grazed on by cows. The people have passed down the blessings of nature and the wisdom to live with a volcano from generation to generation without interruption. This is the story of a land of fire and water, and of the people who live there.

A Millennium of Cattle Herding

It is said that even now, around 800 cattle herders live in Aso. When they call to their cattle, their voice may be carried a kilometer away by the wind. In the past, during the summer, herders would sleep on the fields for 2 weeks to cut grass in order to secure feed for the winter. They spent the season in tents made of grass, under a vast night sky.

Onda Festival

At the Onda Festival, held each July, rice is thrown onto Omikoshi - carriages of the gods. Festivalgoers get the rice's growth looked at by the gods, and hope for a bountiful harvest. It's said that the more rice that gets onto the Omikoshi, the better the harvest that year will be. The unique song that the men sing, the "Onda Song," is an offering to the gods.

Ancestors Greeted with Flowers

Obon is the time when families greet the souls of their ancestors. In Aso, those souls are met with bouquets of flowers picked from the grassy fields. It's said that the souls arrive on dragonflies. By placing the flowers from the fields on one's ancestors' graves and placing one's hands together, one can feel that their ancestors' souls have entered the leaves. The ancestors warmly watch over the lives of the people of Aso.