The Story of
Menno Ishi

The Menno Ishi Boulder before it fell

The Menno Ishi Boulder before it fell

The Menno Ishi Boulder after it fell

The Menno Ishi Boulder after it fell

The Beckoning Cat of Happiness

The Menno Ishi Boulder was suspended in the air during its discovery, trapped between the cave's crevices.
Before the colossal eruption of Mount Aso, its surroundings were thought to be a tranquil lake, and it is believed that this phenomenon occurred due to repeated eruptions and the formation of the Aso Caldera. The Menno Ishi Boulder, which remained suspended in the air for tens of thousands of years, was considered to bring good fortune and became a venerated spot for many who sought blessings and prosperity.
Unfortunately, the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes caused the Menno Ishi Boulder to fall.
It tumbled down the steep cliffs, knocking down trees as it fell, so it was a miracle that it came to rest intact and unscathed, about 50 meters away. Since then, it has become known and revered as the "Migawari-ishi,” or protection stone, in honor of its great strength and withstanding the fall without breaking or falling apart.
Additionally, when one gazes at Mount Aso from within the cavern where the boulder used to be, the breathtaking splendor of the South Aso vista is framed by the form of a beckoning cat.
Henceforth, it became known as the “Beckoning Cat of Happiness.”


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Enter through the gate to start your trek.
* Hikers without a guide must pay an entrance fee. After receiving payment, we will give you the password to unlock the gate.

Ancient Forest

This ancient forest has remained in its natural state for millennia.
The forest is home to deer, monkeys, and hundreds of species of moss blanketing the area and lending to its mystical atmosphere.
Watch your step, as the trail can be slippery.

200-Year-Old Grand Maple Tree

About halfway along the path to the cave, an enormous maple tree emerges among the boulders.
Though it stands in the way of hikers like a looming gatekeeper, it is also recognized as a guardian that watches over their safety.

Migawari Menno Ishi
(Protection Stone)

The Menno Ishi Boulder wedged between the cave walls was suspended in the air for tens of thousands of years before falling during the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake and rolling about 50 meters from the cave to its current location.
It weighs about five tons and, despite the force of the fall, remains intact, leading people to believe that the stone has mysterious powers.
Touching it while praying is believed to ward off bad luck and provide protection against misfortune.

Observatory (Aso Caldera and the Five Peaks of Aso)

From the observatory, you can see Mount Aso, the southern caldera, and the five peaks of Aso.
The Aso Mountains is a collective term for the five peaks: Mt. Eboshi, Mt. Kishima, Mt. Naka, Mt. Taka, and Mt. Neko.
The crater of Mt. Naka, the central peak, contains an active volcano that continuously emits smoke.
The Aso Caldera, which was formed by a huge eruption about 90,000 years ago, turned into a giant lake before gradually taking on its present form over the ages.

Menno Ishi Boulder Cave

The Menno Ishi Boulder used to be suspended about 15 meters above the cave.
Without it, the cavity resembles the silhouette of a cat gazing at the distant Five Peaks of Mount Aso, specifically that of Mount Neko (neko means cat in Japanese).

The "beckoning cat" has been revered in Japan as a symbol of good luck since ancient times.
It is said that if you wish for happiness or to meet someone special while standing before the silhouette, your wish will be granted, making it a famous destination for those looking for love.

Torinokozuka Park
(Menno Ishi Boulder Viewing Spot)

You can see the entire southern side of Mount Aso and the cave in which the Menno Ishi Boulder was wedged from this little-known spot.
As you make your way there, you’ll also see its “Twin Stone, which is similar in shape and size to the Mennou Ishi Boulder.
Checking out the park just through the iconic Shinto shrine gate — called torii in Japanese — is highly recommended.

※Click the number and the details will be displayed on the right side.

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If you want to further enjoy the nature and attractions around southern Aso, cycling is the perfect option!
Rent a bicycle at "Asobo no Sato Kugino Roadside Station" and check the maps and attraction info before you go!
Since it’s all self-guided, you’re free to visit chic cafes, bakeries, springs, and other Instagrammable spots at your own pace.
Here are two recommended cycling routes which take 3 hours and 5 hours, respectively, and are jam-packed with stops that show off the charms of southern Aso.

3-hour Route


  • Meeting Point
    Inside Asobo no Sato Kugino Roadside Station
    Minami Aso Activity Center
  • Departure
    Bicycle rental and departure
  • Ichizeki Yasaka Shrine
  • Break
    Wakisawazu Water Source
  • Hakusuikogen Station, the birthplace of Premium Water Minamiaso
  • Single-lane road through rice fields
  • Break
    Pain Daigo / DACCO
    (Break, Cafe)
  • Return
    Asobo no Sato Kugino Roadside Station

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5-hour Route


  • Meeting Point
    Inside Asobo no Sato Kugino Roadside Station
    Minami Aso Activity Center
  • Departure
    Bicycle rental and departure
  • Road along the waterway
  • Lunch
  • Cross the bridge to a single-lane road through rice fields
  • Single-lane road through rice fields
  • Terasaka Spring
  • Return
    Asobo no Sato Kugino Roadside Station

Book now.

Contact details

Minami-Aso Tourism Association

2807 Hisaishi, Minamiaso-mura, Aso, Kumamoto 869-1412
TEL: 0967-67-2222 (Southern Aso Tourist Information Center)