Kagoshima is a coastal city with beautiful gardens, excellent restaurants and a fascinating samurai museum. The city is nicknamed the “Naples of Japan”, a nod to the palm-lined streets, sunny climate and enormous active volcano.
Things to do in Kagoshima
Sakurajima towers over Kagoshima Bay and is one of the most active volcanoes in Japan. Plumes of smoke can usually be seen unfurling from the crater and minor eruptions dust the city in volcanic ash. Ferries depart from Kagoshima Port and whisk you across the bay to Sakurajima. From here, you can explore the Nagisa Lava Trail. It winds along the base of the 1,117-metre-high volcano and takes you through a lava bed studded with enormous boulders.
Sengan-en was laid out in the 1600s and is one of the best-preserved Japanese gardens in the country. The gardens cascade down a hillside and are filled with picture-perfect shrines, ponds, bridges and streams. Wander through the bamboo grove and admire pastel-pink cherry blossoms. The highest parts of the gardens treat you to spectacular views over the bay and Sakurajima.
Discover the legacy of Japanese samurais at the Museum of the Meiji Restoration. The museum is set on the Kotsuki River and features exhibits on the major political and cultural reform that took place in the late 1800s. Immersive audio-visual shows in the basement of the museum bring the event to life.
Across the city, you’ll see restaurants and “izakayas” serving kurobuta black pork. The dish is a Kagoshima specialty and is usually served with “donburi” rice bowls or with a crunchy breadcrumb crust. You can also try local dishes like “yogan-yaki” grilled chicken, sesame-crusted tofu and “satsumaage” deep-fried minced fish topped with pickled ginger.
Getting around Kagoshima
Kagoshima is pedestrian-friendly and easy to get around on foot, while buses are a fast and affordable way to get from A to B. The city is on the southwestern tip of Kyushu Island, 3.5-hours from Fukuoka by car and two hours by train. Fukuoka Airport is a 3.5-hour drive away.