Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park

Non-profit Nature Service http://www.natureservice.jp/

The Sakurajima volcano, Kinkowan Bay and hot springs sourced from giant calderas

The smouldering Sakurajima greets all who enter Kinkowan Bay, and the active volcano is always on the horizon as you explore Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park. You are constantly reminded of the volcano's great power as its plumes conjure distinctive shapes in the sky. Read more about Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park.

Visiting Japan's National Parks

Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park, like all of Japan's national parks, has no entrance fees, no opening and closing hours, and no permit is required to enter or stay in the park. The national parks of Japan differ from national parks worldwide in that the land within the national parks is not exclusively designated for national park use and is made up of private property as well as public and protected areas. Visitors are free to enter and leave at any time. 

Park Highlights

The park can be broadly divided into the northern Kirishima area and southern Kinkowan Bay area. The Kirishima area has a series of more than 20 volcanoes, both large and small, as well as crater lakes, volcanic gas clouds pluming from vents called fumaroles, hot springs and plateaus.

DON'T MISS

  • Views of Mt. Shinmoe, an active volcano, from the peak of Mt. Karakuni
  • Learning about Sakurajima Volcano on a guided walk along the Lava Nagisa Promenade
  • Birdwatching around Lake Mi-ike

The Kinkowan Bay area is centered around Mt. Sakurajima, an active volcano. Surrounding it are Mt. Kaimon, Lake Ikeda and Chirin Island on the Satsuma Peninsular side, Cape Sata and Ogawa Waterfalls on the Osumi Peninsular side, and Shigetomi Beach within the bay.

MT. SHINMOE

Mt. Shinmoe is a volcano in the Kirishima region that is active today. It erupted on a large scale in January 2011 and March 2018. It is possible to see inside the crater from the top of Mt. Karakuri.

Mt. Shinmoe

MT. TAKACHIHO-NO-MINE

This mysterious mountain appears in ancient Japanese mythology. Along its hiking trails you can see patches of colorful Rhododendron kiusianum. The best time for flower viewing is mid-to-late May.

MT. KARAKURI

This is the highest mountain in the park at 1,700 meters tall. Its crater measures 900 meters in diameter and 300 meters deep. The views from the top of the mountain are spectacular, and on fine days you can see Kinkowan Bay and Mt. Sakurajima, and even as far as Mt. Kaimon.

Mt. Karakuri

ONAMI-IKE CRATER LAKE

Lying at the base of Mt. Karakuri, this crater lake can be circled in about one and a half hours. During the autumn foliage-viewing season, the colorful tree leaves and blue of the lake's surface combine to create breathtaking views.

Onami-ike crater lake

MI-IKE CRATER LAKE

Measuring four kilometers around and 100 meters deep, this is the largest crater lake in the Kirishima area and was created by the most explosive volcanic eruption in the history of Kirishima Moutain Range. There are camping facilities on the lakefront.

MT. SAKURAJIMA

Located in the center of the park, this volcano can be viewed from anywhere in the surrounding area. The eruptions and ash showers continue sporadically even today, giving you a sense of the Earth's powerful energy.

Mt. Sakurajima

SHIGETOMI BEACH

This area is characterized by its varied scenery, including the largest tidal flat in Kinkowan Bay, a white sandy beach with green pine trees stretching for several hundred meters. In summer, the coast is lively with many visitors who come to swim in the ocean under Mt. Sakurajima.

Shigetomi Beach

CHIRIN ISLAND 

This island rises from the sea to the north of Ibusuki Onsen, a hot spring area famous for sand baths. At low tide, a sandbar leading to the island appears, making it possible to walk to this land-tied island in around 30 minutes.

Chirin Island

MT. KAIMON

With its graceful lines, this volcano is also a symbol of the local area. Rising 924 meters above sea level, the mountain peak provides a 360-degree panoramic view, enabling you to see as far as Mt. Sakurajima, the Kirishima Mountain Range, the Osumi Peninsula and Yakushima Island.

Mt. Kaimon

Plants & Animals

In high altitude areas, you'll see Miyamakirishima (Rhododendron kiusianum) and in medium altitude areas there are forests of beech and fir. Due to the Kuroshio Current, one of the largest warm ocean currents in the world, there is a vividly colorful underwater seascape of stony corals and soft corals (seaweed) where a distinctive ecosystem with subtropical fish, such as butterfly fish and heavenly damselfish thrive. 

The Kirishima area is home to a variety of birds, including the extremely rare pitta and the ruddy kingfisher. In the nationally designated Miike Wild Birds' Forest you may spot the screech owl, black paradise flycatcher, fairy pitta and forest wagtail.

 

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    Malus spontanea

     

    This wild species of the rose family is found nowhere else in the world but Mt. Kirishima. The pale pink flowers bloom in early May.

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    Miyamikirishima (Rhododendron kiusianum)

     

    This azalea species is found in the high mountains of Kyushu. There are particularly large numbers around volcanoes. It covers the entire mountainside in pink when in bloom.

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    Ruddy Kingfisher

     

    Catch a glimpse of this vivid red summer bird and hear its distinctive reverberating call from the birdwatching hut in the Miike Wild Bird Forest, a short distance from Miike Camp Village.

Culture 

Mt. Takachiho-no-mine in the Kirishima area is a sacred mountain said to have been where Tenson, the grandson of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, descended to earth bearing three celestial gifts. The Amanosakahoko spear at the mountain's summit is said to have been driven into the mountain when the deity descended to Earth, and so is consecrated as a sacred treasure of Kirishima-higashi-jinja Shrine, which lies at the foot of the mountain.

 

Bathing in volcano steam

 

In and around the park are many hot springs that have been enjoyed since ancient times by local residents and visitors coming for hot spring cures. Hot springs in the Kirishima area are known for their rich spring quality, including sulfurous and hydrogen carbonate springs. Bathing in these hot springs is particularly rejuvenating in winter, but makes for a relaxing time in any season.

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    Seasonal Information

    Visitors to the southern area of Kyushu can swim and camp during the summer months, and there are endless hiking opportunities year-round. But you might not expect that Kirishima-Kinowan's volcanic crater lakes are blessed with snowfall in winter, and the trees are covered in rime ice.

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    December to February is the time of year when the giant Sakurajima radish is harvested. Join a harvesting tour at this time of year, and enjoy a lunch prepared with the radish and farm-fresh food. From March to October, you can cross the sandbar to Chirin Island on foot during low tide.

About the Park 

Established in 1934 as Kirishima National Park, Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park was one of Japan's first national parks. The park is located in southern Kyushu and can be broadly divided into the northern Kirishima area and the southern Kinkowan Bay area.

FACTS & FIGURES

  • Date of National Park Designation: March 16, 1934
  • Area: 36,605ha (366.05 square kilometers)
  • Location: Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures 

VISITOR INFORMATION CENTERS 

Get up-to-date safety information, learn about volcanoes and hot springs, and get advice on hiking at Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park's four visitor information centers: the Ebino Eco-museum Center in the Ebino Kogen area, the Takachiho-gawara Visitor Center and the Kirishima City Tourist Information Center in the Takachiho-gawara area, and the Kirishima Onsen Tourist Information Center in the Kirishima Onsen area.

PARKS RULES & SAFETY 

As with any national park or conservation area, visitors to the national parks are required to observe the following rules for safety and to protect the area's natural biodiversity:

  • Carry in, carry out: Take all of your trash with you. 
  • Do not pick wildflowers or damage plants. 
  • Do not feed the wild animals. 
  • Hunting is not permitted. 
  • No fishing unless with a certified guide.
  • No smoking while walking. 
  • Campfires are only permitted in designated areas.
  • Submit a hiking log at trailheads before setting out on hikes.
  • Be informed about Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park's active volcanoes, such as Mt. Sakurajima and Mt. Shinmoe. Check current conditions before visiting the park. Entrance to the park may be restricted depending on the status of volcanic activity.