Embrace the colourful moments of Kagoshima Prefecture



Embrace the colourful moments of Kagoshima Prefecture

Introduction

When you travel off the beaten track in Japan, rewards are boundless. Meet Kyushu’s southernmost Prefecture, Kagoshima. Take one look and you’ll fall for its charms. Its subtropical climate is matched by its personality as the capital city of Kagoshima has been voted Japan’s friendliest city.

Kagoshima Prefecture is blessed with the monumental backdrop of volcanic peaks. Step inside and you will be taken on a whirlwind odyssey filled with rich culture, jaw-dropping scenery, historical sites, mystic islands and mouth-watering cuisine.

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Map of Kagoshima Prefecture

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Culture and Tradition

The Local Dialect

Kagoshima is a feast for all your senses. Keep your ears open and hear the wonderfully unique sound of the local dialect, Satsuma dialect, characterised by a laid-back melodic speech.

The Onsen Kingdom

Hot spring lovers rejoice. With over 2,500 onsen, Kagoshima is the hot spring kingdom. Thanks to the volcanic activity in the region, you’ll find a variety of unique bathing styles including the bedrock bath and the hot steam sand bath, one of the only places in the world where you can experience such an activity.

Japanese Glass Art

Kagoshima is also the birthplace of one of Japan’s most sophisticated art forms, the glass art of Satsuma Kiriko. This is a tradition from the Edo period that vanished for over 100 years. The last 30 years has seen a renaissance as artisans have managed to revive the technique. 

Blending Japanese culture and craftsmanship, Satsuma Kiriko is entirely handmade. The process involves cutting glass and overlaying layers of delicate coloured glass to create a breathtaking variance of colour and luminosity. You can find a wide range of glassware in this style from teapots and plates to vases.

Attractions

Sakurajima

At the heart of Kagoshima Prefecture is its capital, Kagoshima, and at the heart of its capital is one of Japan’s most active volcanoes, the stunning Sakurajima. Standing at 1117 metres tall, this towering volcano looms over the city and graces everyone with its majestic beauty, emitting smoke and minor eruptions on a daily occurrence.

Sakurajima can be easily reached by ferries that run between Kagoshima Port and the Sakurajima Ferry Terminal. Once there, you can enjoy hot springs with volcanically heated water, hiking trails and numerous observation points to view the crater eruptions.

Kagoshima Prefecture

Sengan-en Garden

Venture away from the city centre and you’ll find yourself in one of the most beautiful gardens in all of Japan, Sengan-en Garden. These beautiful grounds were once residence to the Shimazu clan for over 350 years and historical villas still stand to give visitors a glimpse into the lifestyle of a once powerful feudal lord. 

The garden is blessed with spectacular views of Sakurajima and is filled with a rich variety of trees and plants making it ideal to visit all year round. These include bamboo, camellia, plum trees and early-flowering cherry trees. 

Cap off your visit with a tour of the Shoko Shuseikan Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s regarded as fundamentally important to the birthplace of modern Japan. It was here that Western science and technology was introduced. The museum, that was once a machine factory, is now home to many valuable artefacts.

 Kagoshima Prefecture

Yakushima Island

Pristine forests and cascading waterfalls await at Yakushima Island. It was the first site in Japan to be registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s easy to see why. Hike through the forest and you’ll discover ancient cedar trees (yakusugi) over a thousand years old. The site is also said to have been the inspiration for the forest setting in Miyazaki Hayao’s animation film Princess Mononoke. Among its stunning waterfalls is the majestic Ohko-no-taki Waterfall, the island’s tallest with a height of 88 metres.

 Kagoshima Prefecture

Kirishima Shrine

In Kagoshima, everywhere you look is a reminder of Japanese tradition and folklore. One of these is Kirishima Shrine which has been designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. The mountains of Kirishima are regarded as an important site in the creation mythology of Japan. It was in this area that the deity Ninigi no Mikoto is said to have descended from heaven to govern the area. The shrine was built in the 6th century in devotion to the deity.
The shrine is surrounded by lush forest and is gloriously adorned with vermilion lacquered columns and reliefs. There is even a sacred tree that has lived 800 years, said to have great powers to answer prayers.

 Kagoshima Prefecture

Ibusuki Onsen

One of the most renowned hot spring resorts in the prefecture is Ibusuki Onsen. This is located in the city of Ibusuki, dubbed the ‘Hawaii of the East’ due to its abundant nature and subtropical climate. Here, you’ll find Tamatebako Onsen, a spectacular open-air hot spring that offers panoramic views of the East China Sea and Mount Kaimondake, an almost perfectly conical volcano that is now dormant.

Ibusuki Onsen is also home to the unique bathing style of hot steam sand baths (sunamushi). The tradition stretches back over 300 years. Bathers lie down on the beach and experience the unique sensation of being covered in sand up to their necks, while steam from natural hot spring water under the beach warms their bodies.

 Kagoshima Prefecture

Cuisine

A trip to Kagoshima wouldn’t be complete without exploring its culinary world. Kagoshima’s cuisine is one of the most distinct because of its isolated location and warm climate. The region is best known for its Berkshire Pork and sweet potatoes. Here are some must-try local specialities:

Kagoshima Kurobuta Pork Shabu-Shabu

This is a 400-year-old dish that was once a favourite of samurai warriors. Savour the succulent and clean flavours of Kagoshima Berkshire Pork fed on sweet potato. It’s best enjoyed in a hot pot where finely sliced pieces of pork are swished briefly in boiling hot dashi broth and savoured with ponzu (citrus) or sesame tare sauce.

 Kagoshima Prefecture

Satsuma-age

One of the most famous dishes in Kagoshima, Satsuma-age is made of fresh fish paste that is deep fried and includes other fillings like cheese, sweet potato and lotus root.

Karukan

This steamed sweet bread is made from yams, rice powder and sugar and has a texture similar to a sponge cake.

Satsuma

Shochu Shochu is a distilled liquor that’s popular all over Japan. Kagoshima’s shochu is made from local sweet potatoes and can be enjoyed straight, on the rocks or mixed with hot water.

Accommodation

Kagoshima has a wide range of accommodation to suit all types of travellers and budget from luxury to traditional. These include:



Ibusuki Hakusuikan

Just a 10-minute drive away from JR Ibusuki Station is a 5 star ryokan located along the ocean that blends tradition with luxurious resort elements. Guests can enjoy traditional Japanese guestrooms including tatami flooring and futon beds and enjoy views of Kagoshima Bay from the balcony. Highlights include the variety of hot spring baths on offer including the world famous ‘sand bath’. Click here to book or for more information.

remm Kagoshima

Location, location, location. This sleek hotel is only a 2-minute walk to Tenmonkan-dori Tram Station, 10-minute drive to Sengan-en Garden and a 25-minute drive to Sakurajima Island. Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi as well as specially designed high-density beds and massage chairs to soothe away travel fatigue.

Kagoshima Washington Hotel Plaza

This hotel is conveniently located close to the Tenmonkan shopping and entertainment area and 5 minutes away from Kagoshima-Chuo Station by car. Highlights include 3 restaurants with stunning views of the city skyline. Click here to book or for more information.

Kagoshima Tokyu REI Hotel

Located on the riverside, this modern hotel is just a 5-minute walk from Kagoshima-Chuo Station. Rooms offer free WiFi and come equipped with a humidifier, Yukata robes and a trouser press. Click here to book or for more information.

Transportation

Getting Here

There are several ways to reach Kagoshima from Tokyo.

By Air

Several airlines including JAL (JAC) and ANA operate frequent flights from Tokyo (Haneda or Narita Airports), Osaka (Itami or Kansai) and other major domestic airports in Japan to Kagoshima Airport. The flight duration is around two hours and Kagoshima Airport is a 40-60 minute bus ride (1,250 yen for adults one-way) into the city centre.

By Train

Kagoshima City is the southernmost city on Japan’s rail network. Tokyo and Kagoshima are connected by the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen. A JR pass will allow you to make the trip in about 8 hours using both the Hikari and Sakura/Tsubame services. 

If you plan to make Kagoshima a base to explore the Kyushu region, then consider the 5-day Kyushu Rail Pass.

Getting Around

Kagoshima has two train stations at opposite ends of the city centre, Kagoshima-Chuo Station and Kagoshima Station. Kagoshima Chuo Station is the larger of the two, and the Shinkansen (bullet train) terminal will be the one you likely travel through the most.

Welcome Cute Pass

This is an economical travel pass to take advantage of unlimited travel on trams, buses, and ferries for one (1,000 yen for adults) or two (1,500 yen for adults) consecutive calendar days. It can be purchased at several locations including Kagoshima Chuo Station. Click here for more information.

Trams and Buses

Kagoshima has two tram lines and an extensive bus network including the City View Tour Bus that connects visitors to popular sightseeing spots. Click here for more information.

Ferry

The ferry between Kagoshima Port and Sakurajima Ferry Terminal runs frequently around the clock. The ride takes about 15 minutes and is 160 yen for adults (80 yen for children).


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