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Nestled on a beautiful bay in southwest Japan's Kyushu Island, Kagoshima is overlooked by Sakurajima, an active volcano that smokes, steams and provides a spectacular backdrop to the city's skyline. This scenic setting has led to Kagoshima being nicked the "Naples of the East", and it is now officially twinned with its Italian sister. While it is actually closer to Shanghai than Tokyo, Kagoshima remains well-connected and easily accessible from Japan's other major cities by way of the Shinkansen bullet train and an international airport. The city itself is charming, with waterfront gardens and an excellent aquarium, but many visitors choose to head out into the volcanic hills which feature hot springs, hiking trails and observatories. Ferries operate across the bay to transport guests between Kagoshima and Sakurajima. Book now at Best Western Rembrandt Hotel Kagoshima Resort and explore all this city has to offer.
Read More about Kagoshima
Literally meaning "cherry blossom island", Sakurajima is a beautiful volcano that faces Kagoshima across Kinko Bay. Still active, the 1,117-meter-high peak regularly belches smoke into the atmosphere. While it remains potentially lethal, Sakurajima is now Kagoshima's biggest tourist attraction, drawing locals and visitors from across Japan and further afield. Observatories offer views of the lava fields and back across the bay to Kagoshima, while a visitor center provides information about the eruptive history of Sakurajima through a series of interactive exhibits. Visitors can access the volcano using the Sakurajima ferry, which operates 24 hours a day across the bay, with the 15-minute ferry service departing Kagoshima more than 80 times a day.
Sengan-en is a traditional Japanese garden nestled on the coast in Kagoshima. While the garden offers spectacular views of Sakurajima, the true beauty of Sengan-en lies within its ornate landscapes, which are home to ponds, streams, shrines and a bamboo grove. Created by the powerful Shimazu clan in the 1600s, Sengan-en is also home to a museum and the classical Iso Residence, which can be explored on a guided tour. While the gardens are beautiful all-year-round, Sengan-en comes alive in spring when the cherry trees start to blossom. In 2015, Sengan-en was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site related to Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution.
Kagoshima City Aquarium
Located on the waterfront, next to the city’s ferry terminal, Kagoshima City Aquarium showcases a broad selection of sea creatures native to Japanese waters and the wider Pacific Ocean. Opened in 1997, it now features multiple species of fish, along with rays, sea otters, giant crabs and electric eels. There is even a huge whale shark housed in the vast Kuroshio Tank. Guests can also experience dolphin shows, which are held three times a day. The aquarium features a small waterfront cafe which provides an excellent spot to sit and gaze out over Kinko Bay to Sakurajima, and post pictures to social media using the free Wi-Fi service.
Perched 107 meters above the city on Mount Shiroyama, Shiroyama Park is a great place to relax and enjoy stunning views of Kagoshima, Kinko Bay and the Sakurajima volcano. Literally meaning "castle mountain", Shiroyama is the site of a former castle and now houses the Reimeikan Museum, which is dedicated to local history and culture. The 24-hectare park's most famous attraction however, is the Shiroyama Observatory which offers the best views of the spectacular volcanic landscape. Shiroyama Park is also home to more than 1,000 cherry trees, which makes it a wonderful place to view Japan's famous "sakura", or cherry blossoms, in the springtime.
Located at the mouth of the Inari River, Ishibashi Park is famous for its three stone bridges that were constructed in the 1800s and moved to their present location in 1993. Originally there were five bridges, designed by master builder Iwanaga Sangoro in the Edo Period, but two of these were destroyed by floods. The remaining three are now showcased in the park, along with the Yasaka Shrine and a small but informative museum. The park, which offers excellent views of Sakurajima, is just a short walk from JR Kagoshima Station and on the route of the City View Bus service.
Hot spring resorts
The volcanic hills around Kagoshima are home to more than 2,700 hot spring sources - the second highest total in Japan! This has given rise to many excellent hot spring resorts, where visitors can unwind in natural indoor or outdoor pools, or onsens. Magma Onsen and Furusato Hot Spring Resort are both open to day-trippers and offer views across Kinko Bay, while Sakura Sakura features natural mud baths. Alternatively, guests seeking a less immersive hot spring experience can visit the Nagisa Park Foot Bath, which is free-of-charge and provides a great spot to relax and soak your aching feet in hot pools while gazing out over the volcanic landscape.
Things to do in Kagoshima