Kagoshima is the southernmost city on the island of Kyushu. This city is famous for having beautiful landscapes and holds significant historical importance for Japan. Originally known as Satsuma, during Japan’s feudal period; it was home to one of the most influential and powerful Daimyos of The Land of the Rising Sun, ruling over a territory that reached as far as Okinawa. The Satsuma Clan was one of the Samurai Families that supported and lead the Meiji restoration (1868), by being one of the main military forces that defeated the Shogunate. However, the clan later became one of the Shogunates greatest critics, and in 1877, under the leadership of the legendary Saigo Takamori, it rose up against the decisions of the new government, an event known as the Satsuma Rebellion. This battle that symbolized the struggle between the new and the old order, made Saigo Takamori into a hero figure that fought against injustice. The American movie“The Last Samurai” vaguely depicts this battle in which the character of Katsumoto, interpreted by Ken Watanabe, was based on Takamori.
Kagoshima is also famous for being one of the ports in which the first cultural exchanges between Japan and the West took place. This city was the place where Jesuit monk Francisco Xavier landed, introducing Catholicism in to the country. Therefore Kagoshima is a destination, which is well worth visiting if you are truly interested in Japanese history and culture.
Often, Kagoshima is compared to Naples Or Hawaii, due to its architecture, warm weather and its proximity to an active volcano, Mount Sakurajima. This makes Kagoshima a very popular destination among the Japanese, because of the many onsen that exist around the city. Although generally speaking, you can find onsen in almost any part of Japan, due to the intense volcanic activity in the area of Kagoshima, you can find one literally on every corner around town, making Kagoshima the ideal destination for those that are seeking a trip to rest, relax and to relieve stress.
However, travelers in search of adventure and fun can also find something to satisfy them in Kagoshima. Being the southernmost city of the main islands of Japan, Kagoshima is an essential place to visit if you intend to see the island of Yakushima, famous for being the home of the Shiratani forest, which inspires the backgrounds of the Studio Ghibli’s worldwide, famous movie “Princess Mononoke.” Additionally, the island of Sakurajima (with the volcano of the same name) and the surroundings of Kagoshima offer many opportunities for exploring and hiking. The city also offers an exciting and lively nightlife. The area of Tenmonkan and the Gourmet Street offer many options to please the tastes of the travelers who are looking to try Japanese cuisine and enjoy a great night out.
How to get there?
Due to its localization, there are many ways to get to Kagoshima such as a bus or train. If you are travelling with a JR pass, you can use the Shinkansen from Tokyo, the trip will take around 8 hours, and make a quick stop at Osaka. Nevertheless, in case you don’t have this pass, the price of this trip could be around 29,000 yen only for a one way ticket, making the round trip price to be around 60,000 yen. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you travel by plane. Airlines such as JAL, ANA; Skymark and Solaseed have frequent flights departing from Haneda Airport, while Jet Star offers at least two daily flights from Narita. The prices of the round trip could be between the 20,000 and 40, 000 yen, however, Jet Star and Skymark have cheaper flights, and if you are lucky, you can even get round trip tickets for only 10, 000 yen, as long as you are willing to spend the night at the airport to catch an early flight.
Where to stay?
Kagoshima is a tourist destination, and it counts with a great variety of hotels and many other places to spend the night, that can work for different budgets. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend to stay at Green Guest House, due to its convenient location, its low prices and the kindness of its staff. For more information please look on our recommended sites page.
What to do?
Kagoshima is a city with a long history that has very beautiful landscapes and pleasant weather. It offers visitors an endless number of activities to keep them entertained. You can travel around the city using the bus system of Kagoshima City View, which you can take from Tenmonkan, Dolphin Port or Kagoshima Chuo Station. These buses will quickly take you to any of the most famous tourist attractions around town for a very fair price (around 200 Yen).
For travelers who are looking to get a deeper insight into Japanese history, we recommend that you take a walk around the Kagoshima Chuo Station, where you can find the Meiji Restoration Museum and the birth place Saigo Takamori, just to name a few important attractions in the area. We also recommend that you take a walk through the Road of History and Culture, a stroll that will take you to the Art, the Reimeikan Culture and Kagoshima Prefecture Museums. A small walk down this road, which is no further than 10 minutes away from Tenmonkan, is a simple, yet interesting trip through the history and culture of Japan. Another interesting walk is from Tenmonkan to Sengan En garden. On this path you will not only cross through beautiful parks and get an excellent view of Mount Sakurajima; but also you’ll pass through some historic sites, such as the landing place of Francisco Xavier, the Jesuit monk who brought Catholicism to Japan. We strongly advise you to visit Sengan-en, this small villa has been used as a location for films and historical dramas, mainly because it’s very well preserved and it is aesthetically very beautiful.
A walk on the seashore and ports can be an excellent way to spend the evening. At the City Aquarium, you can observe the native species of the region, sting rays and even whale sharks for example. If you are lucky, you can even see some dolphins visiting the coast around the Aquarium. After this, you can take a stroll through Dolphin Port and enjoy a nice dinner with an incredible view of the sea.
For those who like to enjoy the night life, our recommendation is to go straight to Tenmonkan. The downtown area of Kagoshima is full of bars and restaurants, and you can be sure to find one that will appeal to your taste buds. Our recommendation is to visit the Café and Bar Aporo, located no more than two blocks away from the Tenmonkan main street, in Sen-nichi street in the Imamura Building. It’s a place with a vintage atmosphere, excellent drinks and great service.
Kagoshima is very famous for its black pork meat. You can enjoy it best when it’s grilled, in ramen, fried as katsudon, or baked, but it’s delicious cooked in any method. Without a doubt, this is a dish that you have to try. You can also enjoy some sweet potato traditional candies, which happen to be a very famous souvenir from the region. The tangerine produce in the region of Sakurajima is known to be very tasty and juicy. The sake of the area of Kagoshima is also very famous among the Japanese, due to its very particular flavor and the traditional way in which it is brewed. We strongly recommend you schedule a visit to Kagoshima in to your traveling agenda.