From active volcanoes to eons-old trees, Kagoshima is a nature-lover's dream
Warm, palm tree-rich Kagoshima is often compared to Naples for its climate and feisty culture, and also because of nearby volcano Sakurajima, Kyushu's own Vesuvius. Yakushima, a nearby island covered in ancient cedar forests, appears on every outdoorsy type's bucket list, but it's far from the only natural attraction in the area. National parks offer abundant hiking and exploration opportunities and the rural Satsuma peninsula is home to some of Kyushu's ubiquitous hot springs along with eye-catching ocean views.
Things to do
A cut above
One of Kagoshima’s famous crafts is Satsuma Kiriko opens in new window cut glass, richly colored pieces with complex designs. If you want to see how it’s made, the factory is open for tours most days. Grab a keepsake or two at the attached souvenir shop.
Lush, green Yakushima is another nearby island, this one covered with ancient forests rather than spitting volcanoes. The cedar trees here have been around for millennia and the oldest is thought to be about 7,000 years old. The hiking here is some of the best in Japan, but it rains nearly every day so bring a raincoat and waterproof boots.
For the crater glory
Just across the bay from Kagoshima sits Sakurajima, a volcano that smokes and rumbles the day away. Ferries will take you across if you want to do some hiking on the island’s three peaks. You won’t be allowed on the caldera, but there are viewpoints where you can observe the eruptions. There’s also a kitschy dinosaur park that young kids will enjoy.
High and mighty
It’s a bit out of the way, but if you’re looking to take a trip that combines hiking and history, the Kirishima mountains fit the bill. Kirishima is said to be where the god Ninigi no Mikoto came to earth and founded Japan’s long line of emperors, and the range of volcanoes here offers some excellent hikes through striking terrain. And, of course, there’s the usual hot springs if you’re looking to rest your tired body after a long day on the trails.
This spud’s for you
Kyushu is known for its delicious shochu. The local variety, imo-shochu, is made from sweet potatoes. You’ll find it at almost any Japanese restaurant and if you want to drink it like a pro, order it oyu-wari, or mixed with hot water. You can also visit many of the brewers for tours. Try Satsuma Shuzo opens in new window for an English-friendly option.
Travel time 40 minutes
Taxi Approx JPY ¥10,000
Express bus JPY ¥1,200, takes about 50 minutesKagoshima Airport is connected to town by bus. Two companies run airport express buses. The trip takes about 50 minutes and the fare is JPY ¥1,200. There are also buses to other parts of Kyushu.Taxi fares to Kagoshima Chuo Station run to about JPY ¥10,000 and the trip takes about 40 minutes. Back to top
When to go
Kagoshima sees a lot of rain. Springs are warm and wet, summers are hot and wet, and autumns are cooler and wet. On rare occasions, you might get a dusting of snow in the winter, but probably just rain. Bring a brolly.
In July, Kagoshima hosts the Kagoshima Cup, an international yacht race around some of its volcanic islands.
The same month, you can attend a unique local festival called Sogadon no Kasayaki that involves a decidedly offbeat custom. Boys burn umbrellas on the bank of a river like characters from a folk tale who used a burning umbrella as a lantern.Back to top
Kagoshima has two tram lines that cross town, with rides costing JPY ¥160 regardless of distance. In addition, there are City View Buses that start their journeys Kagoshima Central Station and visit many tourist attractions. The cost is JPY ¥180 orJPY ¥600 for a one-day pass.
Foreign tourists can get a Welcome Cute pass that provides unlimited rides on the trams, City View Buses, other city buses and the Sakurajima Ferry, as well as some discounted admissions to tourist sites. It’s JPY ¥1,000 for one day, JPY ¥1,500 for two.Back to top