Kagoshima Guide: What To Do, Where To Go, Where To Eat | CoolJapan

From its rich history to its smorgasbord of good food, the bustling city of Kagoshima, located on the southwestern tip of Kyushu, offers visitors plenty of reasons to keep coming back. Here are four compelling reasons to add this underrated city to your list of destinations to visit. Plus, know what to do, where to go, and where to eat in this beautiful seaside city.

Unique gastronomic adventure

Also known as "Satsuma cuisine" after the old name of Kagoshima Prefecture, the food here is quite different from elsewhere in Japan but is no less delicious. Noteworthy dishes include torisashi (chicken sashimi), where fresh chicken is served with minced ginger and sweet shoyu, and satsumaage (where fish such as bonito or mackerel is mashed into a paste and deep-fried into a fish cake). Other must-try items include Satsuma beef, known for its intense marbling and melt-in-your-mouth texture, and the prized Kurobuta and Kuroushi pork. Get a taste of these mouthwatering delights at Kagomma Furusato Yataimura, a cluster of casual dining establishments serving the best of Satsuma cuisine.

Historic gardens and storied homes

The Sengan-en GardensSengan-en Gardens in spring, overlooking Mt. Sakurajima. Image credit: Kagoshima Prefectural Visitors Bureau

The Sengan-en Gardens were built in 1658 as a villa for the Shimadzu family. The Shimadzu clan ruled over the Satsuma Domain since the 1600s, and the visionary Lord Nariakira Shimadzu is largely credited for paving the way for the industrialisation of Japan. In this spot, you will be greeted with immaculately manicured grounds with sweeping views of Mt. Sakurajima and Kagoshima Bay. You can also avail of a guided tour of the Shimadzu family’s beautifully preserved residence to learn more about its history.

Sightseeing delights

Mount SakurajimaThere are several hiking paths and observation points on Mt Sakurajima. © JNTO

Mt. Sakurajima, which translates to "Cherry Blossom Island", is an active volcano that overlooks the town of Kagoshima. The easiest way to get to the island is to take a ferry across but you can also consider taking an hour-long sea kayak from the main harbour to Sakurajima. Once on the island, hire a bicycle so you can explore the surroundings with ease. Want to do a more adventurous activity? Trek one of the many hiking paths that will take you to the different observation points.

Sand baths

Because of the volcanoes found in Kagoshima, there are plenty of hot springs in the area that give the sandy coasts its geothermal heat. One town, Ibusuki, is particularly known for its hot spring resorts. Located on the southwest tip of the Satsuma Peninsula, Ibusuki is also known for its heated sand baths where you’re buried up to your neck in geothermal sand. For those not used to the idea, you may feel strange at first but the warmth of the sand soon lulls you into a state of relaxation. Another place to enjoy this unique experience is Yamakawa Natural Sand Bath Sayuri. Located just 30 minutes from Ibusuki city, this coastal spot offers alluring views of the South China Sea and Mount Kaimon as you soak up the benefits of the sodium chloride-rich sand. Supposed health benefits from this relaxing activity include improved blood circulation and increased immunity.

Cover image: Kagoshima Prefectural Visitors Bureau

  1. 1.Kagomma Furusato Yataimura(Kagoshima Furusato Food Village))
  2. 2.Sengan-en
  3. 3.Mt. Sakurajima
  4. 4.Sayuri, Ibusuki Sand Bath
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