Kagoshima is Kyushu‘s southernmost major city and the capital of Kagoshima Prefecture. It has been nicknamed the “Naples of the Eastern world” for its bay location (Aira Caldera), hot climate, palm tree-lined streets, warm-hearted locals and symbolic stratovolcano, Sakurajima. Kagoshima is very famous for its history, with the Satsuma Clan. In the 1800s, the Satsuma Clan situated in the southwestern point of Japan was the first to be threatened by foreign powers. In 1840, Kagoshima faced heavy pressure to start trade with European and American countries, and the Clan engaged in modernization. It currently has a population of approximately 600,000 and continues to prosper as a major urban area of South Kyushu.
Sakurajima is one of Japan's most active volcanoes and the symbol of Kagoshima. The volcano smokes constantly, and minor eruptions often take place multiple times per day. Sakurajima towers over the city and is only a short ferry ride away if you want to get up close and personal with this monument to the power of nature. You can cycle around the volcano, and there is a museum where you can learn all about the volcano. Travellers visiting Sakurajima can find many attractions just around the Ferry Terminal, including an onsen, foot baths, short hiking trails and an information centre.
Activities: Photo stop Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour
Shiroyama Park is a park in downtown Kagoshima that extends over Mount Shiroyama. With an elevation of 107 meters, the mountain formerly served as the site of a castle fortification. The park is most famous for its Shiroyama Observatory with spectacular views over downtown Kagoshima, Kagoshima Bay and Sakurajima. The night view is also nice, particularly if a clear sky and bright moon allow Sakurajima to remain visible. Nice views can also be enjoyed from the Satsuma no Yu (admission JPY 2680) outdoor hot spring bath at the nearby Castle Park Hotel, which is also open to non-staying guests.
Activities: Photo stop Fee: None Time required: 30-45 minutes
Kagoshima City Aquarium (Io World)
The Io World Kagoshima City Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in Kyushu, is easily recognized due to its unique architecture. The aquarium showcases the diverse collection of Kagoshima marine life using exhibits organized according to themes. The aquarium's most impressive attraction is its massive Kuroshio Tank, which holds fish of all sizes. There are schools of tiny fish, rays and even a giant whale shark. Other exhibition areas include sea otters, giant crabs, coral reefs, electric eels and mangroves. There is a Dolphin Pool that has three dolphins shows per day. (Image via Kagoshima-Kankou)
Activities: Aquarium visit Fee: JPY 1500 Time required: 1 hour
Senganen Garden also known as Isoteien is a Japanese style landscaped garden along the coast north of downtown Kagoshima. One of the garden's most striking features is its use of Sakurajima and Kagoshima Bay as borrowed scenery. The garden also includes small ponds, streams, shrines and a bamboo grove. Senganen has a variety of trees and plants that make the garden scenery interesting in all four seasons. There are several cherry trees, especially of the early flowering Kanhizakura variety, which open as early as late January. Other cherry tree varieties provide flowers through mid-April.
Activities: Garden visit Fee: JPY 1500 (garden, museum and interior of the residence) Time required: 1 hour
The Reimeikan Museum is dedicated to local history and culture. It presents a wide variety of exhibits that cover the span of Kagoshima's history from ancient to modern times. The museum was built on the former site of the local castle, known as Kagoshima or Tsurumaru Castle, and is surrounded by parts of the former moat and stone walls. One of the highlights include a magnificent eight-meter high statue of the local hero Saigo Takamori, the great figure who helped bring about the end of the Edo period, which had lasted for more than 250 years, and establish the Meiji government, the foundation of modern Japan.
Activities: Museum visit Fee: JPY 400 Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour
Tenmonkan is Kagoshima’s main shopping district and home to several restaurants serving local specialities and souvenir shops to meet a wide range of needs. Inside this district, visitors can find Maruya Gardens—a shopping mall containing the general goods store LOFT and various brand shops as well as Yamagataya—a well-established department store loved by the locals. There are tons of other interesting spots near Tenmonkan such as Retroft Chitose—a fashionable complex building with a used bookstore, café, and hotdog store. Meizanbori, which has been seizing the spotlight in recent years, is an area where small izakaya (Japanese pubs) and bars have gathered.
Activities: Shopping Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Amu Plaza Kagoshima
Amu Plaza Kagoshima is a commercial complex adjacent to Kagoshima Chuo Station Building with restaurants serving local Kagoshima cuisine, shops carrying regional speciality products and souvenirs, numerous fashion brand shops, a 10 screen cinema complex, and a Ferris wheel from which you can see a panoramic view of Kagoshima City. The Ferris wheel, Amuran, can be seen from most areas of Kagoshima city and has since become the new landmark of the city.
Activities: Shopping Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Chiran Samurai Residence Complex (Satsuma Peninsula)
Chiran Samurai Residence Complex is known as Kagoshima’s “Little Kyoto.” Measuring 700 meters in length, it is home to more than 500 samurai residences during the late Edo period (19th century). The inside of many of these residences has been opened to the public, making it possible to tour its unique gardens. Among the seven gardens which are open to the public, the garden of the Mori family is the only one built in the "Tsukiyama Sensui" style, with rocks laid out to represent the mountain and an actual pond filled with water. There are also restaurants, cafes, and general goods stores in the area.
Activities: Photo stop Fee: JPY 530 Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour
Yakushima is a subtropical island off the southern coast of Kyushu and part of Kagoshima Prefecture. It is covered by an extensive cedar forest that contains some of Japan’s oldest living trees. Trees more than 1000 years old are affectionately called yakusugi (a combination of Yakushima and sugi, the Japanese word for cedar), the most ancient of which may be over 7000 years old.
Kirishima is an active volcanic mountain range that lies on the border between Miyazaki and Kagoshima Prefectures. It is made up of mountains, highlands, volcanic lakes and hot springs and offers good hiking through beautiful mountainous surroundings.