Sakurajima

KYUSHU Kagoshima Ancient forests and great volcanoes

From the beaches of Amami Oshima and ancient forests of Yakushima to the great volcanoes of Sakurajima and Kirishima, Kagoshima shows off Japan’s wild side

At the southern tip of mainland Japan, Kagoshima Prefecture is nicknamed the “Naples of the East” for its bay and comfortable climate. The prefecture is incredibly active geologically and is home to the great volcanoes of Mt. Kirishima and Mt. Sakurajima. A beneficial side effect of these volcanoes is a number of fantastic onsen facilities that range from traditional baths to beachside sand baths in the shadow of Sakurajima. Island life is a huge part of Kagoshima Prefecture, and any visitor should consider spending as much time as possible off the mainland.

How to Get There

The city of Kagoshima is the capital and main transport hub, connected to the rest of Kyushu by the Kyushu Shinkansen to Fukuoka’s Hakata station. The prefecture is home to Kyushu’s second-largest airport, Kagoshima Airport, which connects it both domestically and internationally.

The fastest way to reach Kagoshima from Tokyo or Osaka is by air, although the Tokaido Shinkansen also reaches Fukuoka in a little over five hours. Many of the islands off the coast have their own airports which are accessible from Kagoshima Airport. The islands are also well connected to both Kagoshima and Okinawa (Naha) by regular ferry services.

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Don’t Miss

  • The magnificent views of Mt. Sakurajima rising out of Kagoshima Bay
  • The ancient World Heritage forests of Yakushima
  • Pristine beaches and stunning coral reefs around the Amami Oshima islands
  • Japan's main rocket launchpad, Tanegashima Island Space Center

Local Specialties

  • Karukan

    Made from a dough of rice flour, grated yam and sugar formed into dumplings and filled with sweet bean paste, karukan are then steamed into a delicious, spongy cake. Great for teatime.

    food-craft
  • Kagoshima Shochu

    Kagoshima specializes in sweet potato shochu. This was partly out of necessity, because the poor volcanic soil was not suited for growing rice and barley. Newer varieties are elegant and sophisticated in their sweetness.

    food-craft
  • Satsuma Ware

    Kagoshima is heaven for pottery lovers. This prefecture is home to Satsuma yaki, a generic name for a wide variety of porcelain ware developed since the 16th century. You'll find everything from exquisite fine art pieces to everyday use tableware and items for home decor.

    food-craft
  • Kagoshima Beef

    Japanese black wagyu cattle raised in the sunshine of Kagoshima are the most numerous of all Japanese wagyu breeds. The beef they yield is known for its tenderness, rich meaty flavor and well-balanced marbling. A must for lovers of premium-quality steak.

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  • Yonaguni Textiles

    The Yaeyama Islands south of Okinawa are known for their nature, so it’s no surprise that Yonaguni orimono is the fabric dyed and woven here using only local plants. The resulting textile is strong yet lightweight, ideal in this tropical climate. Patterns are subtle, including checks, plaids, and flowers.

    food-craft
  • Oshima Pongee Silk

    Honba Oshima tsumugi is a woven silk fabric typically used for making kimono. Dyeing it with mud and bark is a technique unique to the Amami region. A bolt of this wrinkle-resistant ikat can take a year to make.

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Seasonal Highlights

  • Spring

    Kagoshima Castle is filled with cherry blossoms, and people head for the primeval forests of Yakushima while temperatures are comfortable and there is little rainfall.

    yakushima & tanegashima islands
  • Summer

    Kagoshima offers some of Japan's best spots for water sports, including diving, snorkeling and surfing at Amami Oshima and its surrounding islands. See the turtles nesting on the beach at Nagahata Inakahama.

    kirishima
  • Autumn

    Watch as tens of thousands of cranes sweep into the Izumi Crane Observation Center. Enjoy a volcanic sand bath at the onsen resort of Ibusuki or hike up the dormant volcano Mt. Kaimon.

    Mount Kaimondake
  • Winter

    Winter is the perfect time to soak in the soothing waters of Kirishima Onsen, home to over a dozen different hot spring baths. Sample local delights in the food markets of Kagoshima City.

    Crane Observation Center

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