The tropical paradise found at the tail end of Japan on the island of Kyushu, this magnificent gem is a place that is often overlooked as not many foreign tourists visit. Given the large distance between the main cities like Tokyo and Osaka, it makes it a difficult area to access. The lack of other mega-cities on the island aside from Fukuoka, unfortunately, also makes this island a lower priority for travellers to visit, as usually, people tend to visit multiple areas on a single trip by utilising the JR Pass. It is quite a shame really, as Kagoshima, as well as the rest of the island, has so much to offer which you will not find in other places across Japan.
The prized crown jewel of Kagoshima, you will be left with nothing but awe as soon as you lay your eyes on the glorious ‘Sakurajima’ volcano. One of the most active volcanoes in Japan, pillars of smoke and small eruptions are quite common. Despite its ferocity, it is a magnificent sight, and multiple viewing spots are situated around the area, allowing for views from a safe distance.
Kagoshima is quite large, so learning which specific areas are more suited to your ideal travel experience will be very important here. Uniquely, the transport system here is more reliant upon the bus lines as they offer a wider range of destinations which are not accessible by trains.
This is the main district in the centre of the city, and a likely candidate for anyone interested in shopping or wanting a travel experience of convenience. By staying in this area, you will have everything you need at just a stone’s throw away. The most notable landmark here is the ‘Tenmonkan-dori Shopping Arcade’ where you can find numerous cafes, restaurants, entertainment, and souvenir stores. You can try out all the local cuisine, entertain yourselves by playing some arcade games and ending it with bags full of souvenirs all at the same place.
In terms of the main attraction of Kagoshima which most will probably be visiting, the port at which the ferry departs to ‘Sakurajima’ is not too far at around a seventeen-minute walk or a fifteen-minute tram journey with some walking. From here with a purchased ticket, you can hop onto a ferry and head towards the almighty volcano, the ultimate adventure.
A fifteen-minute walk, plus some hiking from Tenmonkan will also land you at the famous ‘Shiroyama Park Observation Deck’. Kagoshima is often coined as the Japanese version of the Italian city of Naples due to its similarities in climate, cityscape, and geographic appearance. From this observation deck, it is apparent as to why many draw the similarities between the two. The most striking resemblance is the gargantuan stratovolcano that looms over the sea, just like ‘Mount Vesuvius’ in Naples. If you were given a quick glance of this view, it would be easy to mistake it for Naples, and fondly enough breathes a quality of the charming Italian city.
Where to stay in Tenmonkan
Since the appeal of this area comes down to the location, the ‘Kagoshima Remm Hotel’ is just the spot. A sleek and modern hotel built on the same main street that the ‘Tenmonkan- dori Shopping Arcade’ is situated, it will be no hassle getting to all the places you wish to visit. The airport shuttle terminal is located just outside, alongside a free shuttle bus that takes you around the area giving you stunning sights of ‘Sakurajima’ volcano.
This district is found in the south of the island and is possibly one of the most naturally picturesque places in the whole of the country. Clear blue oceans, seaside resorts and an uncountable amount of hot springs, this is the perfect place for anyone that wants to experience a relaxing and tranquil destination of a lifetime. The warm climate and kicking back on the beach are ingredients to the ultimate peak of relaxation, but it cannot be complete without a view. Gracefully, you are treated to panoramic views of the volcano, but not ‘Sakurajima’. The volcano found at this end of Kagoshima is ‘Mount Kaimon’. The conical shape of this volcano is similar to that of ‘Mount Fuji’ and is recognised as Kagoshima’s own version of the iconic volcano.
Being in an area with a high volume of geothermal activity, it is no surprise that there is an abundance of hot springs with the popularity to match. However, while you will find the typical hot springs you can expect to find throughout the country, Ibusuki offers a unique hot spring experience. Called the sand baths, it is a hot spring where you are buried up to the neck in volcanic sand where your body is heated from the hot springs underground. It is a peculiar form of detoxifying but is certainly something you should definitely do if you are in the area. The view of palm tree-lined beaches and the sparkling ocean just amplifies the experience even more and is truly relaxing. Seeing all the faces of the people buried in the sand is also quite amusing to see, nothing compares to this.
Where to stay in Ibusuki
For the most laid-back and relaxing destination, there was no other choice than the serene ‘ryokan’ of ‘Ginsyou’. Steps away from the beach and beautiful ocean views from the room, it is everything you could dream for, and more. Located right beside a sand bath spot, not only will you be able to have a wonderfully relaxing trip, but with the convenience of everything being in arms reach, nothing can spoil it for you. The exquisitely built tatami-matted rooms are stunning, with even western-style rooms available that include a private open-air hot spring bath. Unsurprisingly, you can find an indoor hot spring here, but the real pleasure will come from the open-air hot spring found on the rooftop of the place and it is just as incredible as you may think. Sitting in the hot spring as the burning sun sinks into the ocean and the sky is painted a deep orange, is an image that will surely stay with you forever. There is even a small garden and a koi fish pond installation to see and explore within the facility.
The breakfast is an authentic Japanese menu, and dinner is served and prepared in the traditional ‘kaiseki ryori’ style. This exceptional presentation of the food is done with care in mind and features various different dishes in a multi-course meal, giving you a chance to try a bit of everything.
Kagoshima-Chuo Station area
Contrary to what you typically may think, Kagoshima Station is not actually the main station, at least not the one you are likely to get off at when arriving in the city. That one will be Kagoshima-Chuo Station as it is the station for the ‘shinkansen’ or ‘bullet train’. Since transport is somewhat limited to trams and buses here, plans of travelling to further destinations must be done by either a car or train. If convenient access to the train is a priority on your trip, then this is where you should stay. The main terminals for both the trams and buses and located here, so all your transport links are conveniently compiled available at your fingertips.
From here why not take the ‘Kagoshima City View Bus’? For a flat fare of ¥190, you can hop on the bus as it goes around, stopping by at all the major attractions in the city. You can hop off at any stop, so you are free to explore the many sites at your own pace.
For people who may have been enthralled by the location of Ibusuki but are not planning on staying there, the ‘Ibusuki no Tamatebako’ scenic train is the exact solution for you. Departing from Kagoshima-Chuo Station and hauling all the way down to Ibusuki with one stop at the area of Kiire in between, you can have the pleasure of enjoying the scenic journey along the way too. The carriages themselves on this train are specially designed with scenic viewing in mind, and you can find numerous variations of seating from swivel chairs, sofas, regular cabin seat formations, and seats that face towards the windows.
Where to stay in the Kagoshima-Chuo Station area
Standing in front as soon as you exit the station, the ‘Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Kagoshima’ could not be any closer. The modern hotel is strengthened by its elegant interior and dashing views of the city. Some rooms even have clear views of ‘Sakurajima’, enhanced by the golden sunrise in the morning. Sounds like the perfect way to start your day.
That’s about it – with 3 different suggestions on where to stay in Kagoshima, you should be able to pick the one that sounds best to you. We wish you a great trip to Japan!