Tanegashima Island 種子島
A beautiful island with explosive sites
Located about 20 kilometers northeast of Yakushima and 43 kilometers south of Kyushu, Tanegashima Island is a popular beach destination well known for its surf, sun, and sand. It is also the location of the Tanegashima Space Center, home to Japan's space program.
- The Tanegashima Space Center, Japan's key space facility
- Japan's oldest guns, on display at the Tanegashima Kaihatsu Sogo Center
- Meet the local turtles at Nagahama Beach
How to Get There
The quickest way to get to Tanegashima is by air. The island can also be accessed by ferry from Kagoshima, Yakushima and other neighboring islands.
If you're flying from Tokyo, take a flight from Haneda Airport to Tanegashima via Kagoshima. Alternatively, do the last leg of the journey from Kagoshima by ferry. From Osaka, flights to Kagoshima depart from Itami or Kansai International Airport.
"Toppy" and "Rocket" hydrofoil ferries run several times daily from Kagoshima and take a little under two hours.
Public transport is available across Tanegashima, but the island is best explored with a rental car. It's a reasonably flat island, so if you're feeling adventurous, it could be explored by bicycle over several days.
The Space Center
The southern end of the island is home to the Tanegashima Space Center, Japan's most important space development facility. It was established in 1969 when the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) was formed and is now run by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). If you're interested in space exploration, you can watch rocket launches and visit the Space Museum right here on the island.
Witness the rockets in action
There are numerous sites around Tanegashima from which you can watch the fascinating daily events of the Tanegashima Space Center. Though popular Rocket Hill Observatory provides a good view of the island's famous Yoshinobu Launch Complex, it's closed to the public during rocket launches. The best viewing points for rocket launches include Uchugaoka Park and Hase Park.
Dive deep into the island's diverse history
The Tanegashima Kaihatsu Sogo Center in Nishi-no-Omote City in the north of Tanegashima is home to one very unique exhibitーthe first gun ever made in Japan, called the Tanegashima Teppo. It was in Tanegashima that guns were first introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
Every summer the island hosts the Tanegashima Teppo Festival, a massive event on the local social calendar. During the festival's Nanban Parade, matchlock guns are fired as vibrantly colored floats fill the streets.
Learn about the artisanal world of knives
The practice of knife-making was brought to the island in the 12th century when the once very powerful Taira samurai clan was exiled to Tanegashima from Kyoto. Centuries later, local craftsmen still specialize in creating edged tools such as knives and scissors using traditional techniques passed down for generations.
On the west coast is Nagahama Beach, famous for its white sands and sea turtles. Stretching over a massive 12 kilometers, you'll never have trouble finding a spot to lay your towel. Located to the east is Kumano Beach and Chikura Cavern, a network of wide caves that can be explored during low tide.
It's worth staying for a few days on Tanegashima. From the immaculate beaches to the fascinating history, and the excitement of the local Tanegashima Space Center there's plenty to see and do. However, if you have limited time, the very accessible ferry connections make the island a great place to take a day trip from Kagoshima , Ibusuki or Yakushima .