The focus of Kagoshima tourism is clearly on Sakurajima, which ferries provide trips very frequently and 24/7. Such a boat trip takes 15 minutes and costs ¥150. The island of Sakurajima is no longer an island, in fact, since the great eruption of 1914 which connected it to Kyushu on the other side of Kagoshima (towards Kirishima). The peninsula is actually quite large with about 30-miles in circumference.
Coming down from the ferry, you have several options. I suggest you simply cross the road and go talk to the manager of the rental store, she's very nice. It's possible to rent:
- a car (¥4,500 / 2 hours), but you must have your driving license translated in Japanese by the Consular Section of your home Embassy
- a 50cc scooter (¥2,500 / 2 hours) per person
- or a bike (¥300 / hour)
Sakurajima is quite hilly but well paved, and the roads are very accessible to motorized vehicles. However, points of interest are quite distant from one another: for example the buried shrine Torii at the other end of the island is unreachable by foot. And by the way, it's actually not that exceptional.
As for us, we chose to rent a bike to visit Sakurajima's western sights: observatories, Nagisa park, foot bash (onsen)... A tip if you intend to do the same: bring paper masks and goggles (bought, for example, at a ¥100 shop) because the wind often blows dust from the volcano in that direction. Volcanic rain is not very nice and clothes quickly get dirty.
Then, we opted for a more relaxing time in a tourist bus with a local guide: ¥1,700 for 2 hours around Sakurajima. The experience was a bit staggering, but extremely fun because we obviously were the only foreigners (gaijin). Still, this option comes in handy to get around Sakurajima quickly and with A/C!
The island is very beautiful and can be visited on a single day. As for his most famous tourist spot, Furusato Onsen, this is an outdoor hot spring for both genders, with a beautiful view (¥1,050).
How to get to Sakurajima
By ferry -- 24/7 from Kagoshima, frequent rotations, 15 minutes crossing duration:
- adults: ¥150 ([150 yen])
- children: ¥80 ([80 yen])
Location unreachable with the JR Pass
Get there with a rental car
Island bus tour: ¥1,700 / ~US$ 15.60
Always accessible, except in case of a volcanic eruption
How long / when to visit
Ideal between spring and autumn
Unusual volcanic activity observed since August 15, 2015.
The JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) raised the volcano's alert level from 3 to 4 on a scale of 5.