Kagoshima is one of the eight prefectures belonging to the Kyushu region. It is the most southern prefecture on the tip of Kyushu island and also includes some smaller islands towards the southwest. Like many other prefectures, the prefectures capital is also named Kagoshima.
The area is known for its pleasant subtropical climate with hot an humid summer and mild winters. You can find invigorating nature, relaxing natural hot springs, fresh seafood and amazing local cuisine here.
The many highlights making Kagoshima a popular destination include the Kirishima area where you’ll find the Kirishima Mountain Range and hot springs, and the Ibusuki area known for its’ natural sand baths. Take either a ferry or plane from the mainland Kagoshima to access remote islands such as Yakushima and Amami Oshima. In addition, Kagoshima is one of the birthplaces of ancient Japanese culture. Here we present you our top places to go in Kagoshima prefecture.
- Sakurajima volcano
- Amami Oshima island
- Kirishima mountain range
- Satsuma Peninsula
- Tokunoshima Island
- Local delicacies of Kagoshima
Kagoshima city and the adjacent Sakurajima volcano, are the perfect place to start your trip to the area. Sakurajima is an active volcano, one of Japan’s most active volcano’s, even today you can see a constant smoke rising from the volcano!
Sakurajima used to be an islands, but after a powerful eruption in 1914, lava connects the volcano to the mainland. However, the easiest way to access to volcano is taking the ferry from Kagoshima port. Along the way you will also have some nice views of Sakurajima’s coastline. Around the ferry terminal on Sakurajima, you will find some popular attractions including onsen, free foot baths and some easy hiking trails that are suitable to all levels.
How to access Sakurajima volcano
From Kagoshima port frequent ferries operate daily around the clock. A one-way ride costs ¥200 and it will take you 15 minutes.
Located about 60 kilometers south of Kyushu, Yakushima is the island with the towering mountains, ancient cedar forests and wildlife. The main attraction of Yakushima is a giant cedar tree called Jomonsugi which is estimated to be between 2,000 to 7,200 years old and said to be the oldest tree in Japan. The Yakushima Island was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Most tourists come to the island to hike through the secluded and largely unspoilt forests and see the ancient cedar trees.
One of the popular spots in Yakushima is the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine. This is a green nature park featuring a number of the island’s ancient cedars and popular destination to see the forests and go hiking. There are various well-marked hiking trails, ranging from 1 to 5 hours in length. This park with mossy-green woods and babbling streams is famous for being the inspiration for the Studio Ghibli animated film Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke).
In addition to the forests and mountains, you can also visit a mesmerising waterfall called Ohko Waterfall on the island. The waterfall has a 88 meter-drop and is a must-visit when you are exploring the island. Other highlights are the historical Yaku Shrine, and Hirauchi Kaichu Natural Onsen; hot spring bathing pools formed from ocean rocks along the coast of the Sea of Japan.
Many tourists stay on Yakushima for 3-4 days to enjoy its main attractions.
How to access Yakushima
Fly to Yakushima
From Kagoshima Airport to Yakushima Airport (about 40 min).
Ferry to Yukashima
From high speed ferry terminal of Kagoshima Port to Miyanoura or Anbo Port on Yakushima (about 2 hrs).
Amami Oshima island
Located between mainland Kagoshima and Okinawa, Amami Oshima island bears similarities to the islands of Okinawa further south due of its climate, beaches, and flora including mangrove forests. The island is famous for its beautiful white sandy beaches, clear and warm water, corals and ocean life. The pleasant temperature combined with the beautiful nature is perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
The island is the treasure chest of valuable plants and animals including a mangrove primeval forest and the Amami Rabbit which is a national protected species. Canoeing through Mangrove Park is a popular fun and relaxing activity for tourists.
In addition to beautiful nature, Amami Oshima is famous for the Oshima Tsumugi silk that has been used for high-quality kimono for centuries.
How to access Amami Oshima
Fly to Amima Oshima
There are regular flights to Amami Oshima from multiple cities in Japan including Tokyo (about 2.5 hrs), Osaka (about 2 hrs), Fukuoka (about 1.5 hrs), Kagoshima (about 1 hr), and Naha (about 1 hr).
Kirishima mountain range
The area of Kirishima, consisting of about 20 volcanic mountains, lies on the border between Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures. It was the first to be designated as a national park in Japan (in 1934) and is one of the most richly diverse national parks. The mountains offer a wide range of hiking courses suitable for both beginners and for more experienced hikers, in a fascinating volcanic landscape. The best time to visit in from spring to autumn as in winter some areas are closed. Due to volcanic activity, some of the trails might be closed throughout the year, so it is wise to check beforehand!
The Karakunidake course is one of the most popular hiking courses and takes about 3-4 hrs to complete. The Karakunidake or Karakuni is the tallest of all Kirishima mountains (1,700 meters in height) and offers breathtaking views. It was named Karakuni because it is said you’re able to see Korea from its peak (Karakuni is an alternate reading of the kanji for Korea). A crater lake which is situated at the highest altitude in Japan can be found on your way to the top.
Another popular hike is Takachiho-no-mine course which is 1,574 meters and takes about 2.5 hours for ascend and descend. It is popular not only because of its scenic beauty, but also due to its’ historical and mythological background. Once you have reach the top, you will see a spear pointing to the sky. The legend says the gods used this spear to cut through the clouds and descended to earth for the first time right there, at the summit of Takachiho. This is why people say Japan was actually born in Kirishima, right at Takachiho-no-Mine.
Kirishima Tourism Board (including overview of trails)
How to access Kirishima
Although there are 2-3 buses daily which run between Maruo Onsen to the visitor center via Ebino Kogen, the best way to access Kirishima mountain range is to rent a car.
This peninsula is located in the southwest part of Kyushu, facing the East China Sea to the west and Osumi Peninsula to the east across Kagoshima Bay. Satsuma Peninsula offers a mixture of hot springs, cultural sites and grand nature.
Samurai town Chiran
One of the top attractions in the peninsula is Chiran, a small town with samurai district consisting of houses and gardens that date back about 260 years. The samurai district is an attractive street with the rock walls and hedges of residences. Because the district is free of telephone poles and parked cars, you can experience the historic atmosphere without destruction. Seven of the gardens are open for public.
Ibusuki onsen town
Another attraction in Satsuma Peninsula is Ibusuki, an onsen town that is famous for its natural sand baths and known as the southernmost onsen town in Japan. In Ibusuki, visitors can enjoy bathing in naturally heated sand.
Other popular spots for tourists in Satsuma Peninsula include Mount Kaimondake and Cape Nagasakibana. Mount Kaimondake, standing 924 meters, is known as Satsuma Fuji because of its resemblance to Mount Fuji. At the foot of the mountain, there is Kaimonsanrokufureai Park where visitors can enjoy various activities such as golf and camping.
Cape Nagasakibana is the southernmost point of the Satsuma Peninsula. A walking path leads to the tip of the cape where a white lighthouse stands. The cape offers stunning views of the Mount Kaimondake and surrounding area.
How to acces Satsuma peninsula
The most convenient way to travel to the peninsula is to rent a car, but the JR Ibusuki Makurazaki Line and number of bus lines also provide public transportation options.
Tokunoshima Island is located about 400 meters from mainland Kagoshima. It is also known as Tokunoshima Island and Tokuno Island. Attractions include snorkelling, scuba diving, and a type of bullfighting known as togyu or bull sumo. The togyu is held only on a few days a year in January, May and October in a bullfighting arena on the island.
Furthermore you can enjoy stunning beaches and beautiful coral coastline on the island such as Yonama Beach, Aze Prince Beach, and the caves of Innojofuta Beach. The beach season lasts from late June to October and each year in June the island hosts a popular triathlon!
How to access Tokunoshima Island
Fly to Tokunashima Island
- From Kagoshima Airport to Tokunoshima Airport (about 1 hr)
- From Amami Airport to Tokunoshima Airport (about 30 min)
Local delicacies of Kagoshima
Like every area in Japan, Kagoshima has its own local specialties. Kagoshima is famous for its’ shochu, a liquor which is similar to something like vodka. There are many varieties to try, and souvenir shops often sell gift boxes with small bottles in various flavours.
A must try is kurobuta, which in Japanese for black pork. It is one of the most popular dishes in Kagoshima city, we recommend trying the kurobuta in shabu-shabu hotpot. Another snack, favoured amongst locals especially in summer, is called kakigori which is a kind of dessert made from shaved ice which is then topped with a mix of sweet condensed milks, fruit, jelly and beans. If you are into sweet things, another must-try is satsuma-imo-keiki, which are sweet potato cakes with a purple or a dark yellow colour. You can buy gift boxes of these cakes everywhere!
Another popular dish is tori-sashi which means chicken sashimi. You might be hesitant to try this raw chicken dish, but among locals the thin sliced meat served with ginger, spring onions and garlic, is very popular!
What do you think about Kagoshima? There are many places in Kagoshima where you can experience total relaxation in beautiful nature, away from hustle and bustle of the busy cities in Japan.
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