For a city of its modest size, Kagoshima has more than its share of excellent art museums. As well as the City Art Museum and the Musee Nakamura, there's also the Nagashima Museum, which boasts a splendid, diverse range of artworks, and an enviable hilltop location with a great view across the city and bay to Sakurajima, the volcano that looms over the city.
After walking past some fun sculptures, you're greeted at the entrance by Rodin's sculpture 'The Thinker', which sets the mood well; the spacious rooms, muted gold walls and soft lighting create a nicely relaxed atmosphere. The first room holds well-executed paintings by local artists, in a range of different styles: there are portraits, still lives, a ship stranded on ice, an impressionistic view of Sakurajima.
The next two rooms are given over to European artists; in one there are works by Chagall, Renoir, Cezanne, and a whole wall of portraits and cubist paintings by Picasso. The next room is dedicated entirely to Aristide Maillol; I hadn't heard of him before I came here, but I enjoyed his elegant nude sculptures and sketches.
The rooms on the lower floor are all about artefacts and crafts. In one, there are archaeological finds from Latin America, among them fabrics, pots, and some cute ceramic figurines; in another there are pots and lion statues made by the Ryukyu, the ancient indigenous people of Okinawa. The largest room holds the most beautiful and interesting pieces, with intricately detailed cloisonne and decorative, vividly colorful ceramics such as pots, vases and lanterns, many of them over a meter tall. Many of them portray narrative scenes with golden saints, snarling warriors, scholars in their finery; one extraordinary vase shows the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, with a host of colorful monkeys clambering all over it.
There was a lot to see, so I took a break between floors, strolling around the garden and enjoying the sculptures and the view. Another reason I enjoyed my visit was that there were few other visitors, despite my being there on a Saturday, so I could walk around at my own pace and linger at my favorite works.
As well as the exhibition rooms and the garden, there's a little stand selling goods such as cards, bags, prints and document wallets; and if you want to enjoy the view without going outside, you can sit by the window in the Camellia cafe/restaurant and admire the volcano over a snack or meal.