From active volcanoes to eons-old trees, a nature-lover's dream

Warm, palm tree adorned 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.

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Things to do

  • A cut above

    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.

  • Branch out

    Branch out

    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

    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

    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

    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.

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Airport information

Kagoshima Airport opens in new window (KOJ) 

Distance to city centre 36km

Taxi A taxi into the city centre takes about 40 minutes and costs around JPY ¥11,000

Bus The express bus opens in new window to the city centre costs takes about 50 minutes and costs JPY ¥1200. Buses also depart the airport bound for other parts of Kyushu.

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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 an umbrella.

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, emulating characters from a folk tale who used a burning umbrella as a lantern.

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Getting around

Kagoshima has two tram lines that cross town, and City View Buses opens in new window that start and end their journeys at Kagoshima Central Station, visiting many tourist attractions on three different routes. A one-day pass unlimited transport pass also provides discounted access to some sights, and with a Welcome Cute pass you can also take the ferry to Sakurajima Ferry. You can download a handy comprehensive Kagoshima transport guide opens in new window.

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