Standing in the shadow of formidable Sakurajima volcano, this seaside port city anchors the island of Kyushu. With its vibrant dining scene and rich culture, Kagoshima is fast becoming one of Japan’s most up-and-coming destinations. The southwestern town is named as the "Naples of the East" thanks to its steamy climate, ocean side views and surrounding volcanoes.
The city’s connected to the rest of Japan by a Shinkansen bullet train, and the busy ferry station brings visitors to the outlying islands. While you’re in town, it’s easiest to use the metro, hop on a streetcar or rent your own wheels to explore the rest of beautiful Kyushu island.
Considered the best area for dining, drinking and shopping, Tenmonkan is a great place to land if you only have a few days to soak up the local culture. It’s just a short walk from the ferry terminal and is best known for its vibrant shopping markets, such as the covered Tenmonkan shopping arcade, the nearby Dolphin Port promenade, and the Kagoshima Brand Shop, full of local food, handicrafts and liquor.
A convenient and burgeoning district, the area has seen an influx of charming restaurants, shops and nightlife recently. It’s an up-and-coming area that’s full of surprises — and even home to a 60-metre-tall Ferris Wheel.
Just south of the main station, this neighborhood is a bit quieter and more residential. A few of the best hotels in the area have claimed plots of land here, as they offer some of the best views of Sakurajima. There are dozens of restaurants in the area, as well as two quaint parks towards the water.
On the quiet Satsuma peninsula, Ibusuki is home to a handful of onsens and hot sand baths — a sought-after experience in Japan that’s meant to be good for your circulation. Thanks to the warming volcano magma, you’ll feel nice and toasty when you’re buried under the beach sand.
Across the water, on the eastern peninsula, Kanoya is a smaller city with a low-key feel. The hotels and guesthouses in this area offer access to the deserted beaches along Kinko Bay. The unique perspective also lends amazing views of both Sakurajima and Kaimondake volcanoes on a clear day.
Facing Kinko Bay, Sakurajimia is a famously active volcano that visitors can hike around if they’re feeling adventurous. It was once a separate island, but an eruption in the 1900s saw extensive lava flow that hardened and connected it with the mainland. As long as the Ash Forecast is clear, visitors can climb the Nagisa Lava Trail, scaling the lava boulders along the foothills.
As one of the southernmost cities on Kyushu Island, Kagoshima is known for its distinct cuisine. The city is famous for its super fresh sashimi, deep-fried fish cakes, and shōchū — liquor made with several ingredients, such as sweet potatoes, sugarcane and grains.
Just a boat ride away, Yakushima is a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s covered in incredible flora and fauna. You can spend a few days here, snorkeling with fish, hiking up Mount Miyanoura and spotting deer and monkeys.
A massive aquarium, this incredible place stretches across seven floors and showcases 30,000 of the world’s most exotic sea creatures. In the Kuroshio Tank, you’ll find everything from enormous whale sharks to manta rays, and elsewhere dolphins, giant crabs and sea otters await.
History buffs will appreciate the trip back in time at the Reimeikan Museum, which is built on the grounds of the Tsurumaru Castle and illustrates much of Kagoshima’s backstory with cultural relics from days gone by. The park outside is home to the Shiroyama Observatory, which boasts excellent views of the city and volcano.
If it’s old-school culture you’re after, then the Senganen Garden will take you back to the Edo Period. Constructed in the 1600s, this Japanese-style garden features incredible bamboo groves, shrines and streams.
Kagoshima is chock-full of inexpensive and down-to-earth accommodation options. There’s an impressive mix of youth hostels, guesthouses and traditional ryokans.
Ryokans provide the best of both worlds: traditional tatami mats, family-style meals and gorgeous Japanese gardens. Most ryokans also offer onsen hot spring baths for guests to share.
As the southern city is also a commercial centre, there are several modern business hotels and a few more upmarket options in case you’re celebrating a special occasion.
Average: 6°C - 14°C
Don’t forget your coat.
Average: 13°C - 21°C
Time for cherry blossoming.
Average: 24°C - 31°C
Expect a lot of rain so bring an umbrella or a raincoat.
Average: 18°C - 25°C
Enjoy the beauty of autumn leaves.
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