Kagoshima is the largest city in southern Kyushu. Apart from Okinawa (and its capital Naha), it is probably the southern major city in Japan. Kagoshima faces Sakurajima, a volcanic island whose last major eruption, back in 1914, has shaped its geography. Its active crater (the southern one) is in constant activity and smokes almost continuously. Therefore, the island of Sakurajima of course, but also the city of Kagoshima, must contend with volcanic dust and rain. This is usually not too annoying but even as tourists, we can feel that the volcano is an important part of the city.
I had the opportunity to spend three days in Kagoshima last summer. Apart from the small airport, access to the city is pretty easy thanks to the Shinkansen Line which connects Fukuoka (capital of Kyushu) since March 12, 2011. The region, already quite touristy, becomes more and more filled with visitors, thanks to its undeniable qualities:
- a seaside feeling despite its few beaches
- very pleasant temperatures and weather
- an attractive downtown area
- the interesting visit of Sakurajima (which I'll expose in another post)
As a consequence, Kagoshima attracts all types of people: young ones, families, elderly... There are also an impressive number of Asian visitors, especially Chinese and Koreans.
Downtown Kagoshima is quite extensive: a lot of shopping arcades await you, but also parks, a historical walk or a dolphin park. The tram is very charming and especially handy because it connects different parts of the city. To be quite honest, beyond the city center there's not much to see in residential, industrial or administrative areas. So be careful to stay downtown!
How to get to Kagoshima
By train -- 1h15 to 1h30 of JR Shinkansen (Kagoshima-Chuo station) from Fukuoka
By air -- The city is also served by a small airport for domestic flights
Location reachable with the JRP : order your Japan Rail Pass (from ~US$ 269)
Find a flight to Japan
How long / when to visit
More pleasant between spring and autumn