Kagoshima Prefecture is dominated in myth and appearance by Sakurajima; the collective name for the island located about 5 km from the city that hosts one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Luckily, as volcano logic goes, the ones that erupt regularly pose less of a threat than the “dormant” ones. The Sakurajima Visitor Center has many exhibits related to the volcano and surrounding area, and the Running Sakurajima Road Race attracts over 1,500 runners every February to tackle the 5km, 10km, and half-marathon courses in the shadow of the mighty volcano.
The prefecture also boasts an impressive array of distinctive food and drink. You can find succulent kuro-buta (black pork) dishes throughout the prefecture. This tender meat is especially tasty prepared over an open flame. Sweet potatoes (imo) are another staple to Kagoshima fare, as they are also consumed and used to make the omnipresent shochu liquor. Kagoshima features many shochu breweries, and this drink is enjoyed well outside the prefecture as well. Each brand has its own distinctive flavor and kick, with sweet potatoes being the most traditional ingredient. Each of these unique food and drink experiences give you the satisfaction of real Japanese fare.
Kagoshima Prefecture also holds a unique place in history. Saigo Takamori called Kagoshima home while he commanded a large-scale force of samurai against the rapidly modernizing Emperor's army in the latter part of the 19th century. You can visit the Museum of the Meiji Restoration in Kagoshima City, as well as various sites related to Saigo. Apart from samurai lore, the area also thrived as a trading port and cultural metropolis beginning in the 17th century. This reputation earned it the nickname “The Naples of the East,” as residents enjoyed a culturally rich and refined lifestyle on par with anyone in Europe at that time. Kagoshima City also hosts the Ohara Festival every November, featuring over 20,000 people clad in colorful happi coats and kimono dancing in the streets over 2 days.
The Kyushu shinkansen links Kagoshima City with the rest of the shinkansen network via Kagoshima Chuo station in the heart of the city. Fukuoka is about 1 and a half hours away. You can reach Hiroshima in about 3 hours, Osaka in about 4 hours, and Tokyo in about 7 hours. The one-way trip to Tokyo costs about as much as a 7 day, non-reserved adult JR pass, so you can explore many places while having the pass pay for itself.
Additional train and bus lines link make exploring the prefecture easy. The cities of Chiran, Kirishima, Ibusuki, and Makurazaki all offer unique experiences, including authentic samurai villas, relaxing spas and sandbaths, and excellent beaches. In addition, the Amami Islands south of the mainland offer some excellent diving spots and are almost guaranteed to be warmer, making spring and autumn a good time to visit. If you're looking to party, Amami-oshima has the islands' "big city", Naze, while beautiful little Yoronjima has both stunning sand and sea alongside several small but enthusiastic night spots. Tokunoshima has a unique draw: a relatively humane form of bull-fighting, while Okinoerabujima has rugged coastlines and hidden coves.
Visit Kagoshima Prefecture and discover for yourself the charms of southern Japan.
Kagoshima Prefectural Visitors Bureau
Kagoshima International Association