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Region
Kyushu
Island
Kyushu
Largest City
Kagoshima
Population
1,786,214

Kagoshima

Another earth

Traditional, tropical; mystical, magical, Kagoshima is nothing short of extraordinary.

Making up the tip of Kyushu and a chain of islands extending southwards, Kagoshima is an otherworldly blend of the traditional and tropical; consistent sunshine coats the historic hamlets in the rural north with a bright golden hue, while the south gets its own regular coating of fine volcanic ash from the very active Sakurajima volcano. The incredible cedar forest of Yakushima, the setting for Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, is one of the first of the Nansei-Shoto islands leading down to Okinawa from where you can experience snorkelling, canoeing among mangroves and world-class scuba diving.

The incredible Yakushima forest has some of the most breathtaking hiking routes in Japan.

The incredible Yakushima forest – a ferry ride from Kagoshima city – inspired Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke.

Starting in the north, the Kirishima National Park is made up of an active string of volcanoes which offer some spectacular and unique hiking routes. Stumbling down red dust hills upon cobalt crater lakes, you’ll feel like an explorer on planet Mars. The colorful Kirishima shrine in the foothills is good for bringing you back to earth.

The historic prefectural capital of Kagoshima is the largest city in southern Kyushu and a major transport hub for accessing the southern islands. The hustle and bustle is supervised by the roaring Sakurajima, an active volcano just opposite the city which regularly showers the city with ash – pack an umbrella in case of heavy dustfall. Shrines, museums and onsen (hot springs) make the city worth stopping over. It’s a short trip across the bay to reach Sakurajima island where you can get up close and personal to the volcano itself, witnessing the daily eruptions from one of the observation points.

You can get up close and personal with the volcano on Sakurajima Island, Kagoshima.

Experience volcanic eruptions up close on Sakurajima Island.

Nearby is the Satsuma peninsula and the quaint town of Chiran, a former base for WWII kamikaze pilots commemorated in the Chiran Kamikaze Peace Museum. Head to the beaches of Ibusuki to try traditional sand bathing; you’ll be buried up to your head in hot volcanic sand by a professional sand therapist – it’s much nicer than it sounds.

Kagoshima's islands offer snorkelling, canoeing and scuba diving.

Kagoshima’s islands offer snorkelling, canoeing and scuba diving.

Jump from the mainland to the Osumi-Shoto, the northern set of islands belonging to the Nansei-Shoto which extends to Okinawa. There’s surfing and spaceship launching on the island of Tanegashima, mangroves and sea kayaking on Amami-Oshima but the main attraction lies on the mysterious and mystical island of Yakushima, whose ancient impenetrable forests hide arguably some of the most rewarding hiking routes on the earth. Wild monkey and deer roam among ancient cedar trees; a 10-hour hike will lead you to the world’s longest living tree at an astonishing 7,200 years old.

Places to visit

A forest walkway that goes under a large cedar tree in Yakushima.

Yakushima

If life’s got you feeling detached, visit Yakushima to touch the roots of the world.

Isso Beach, Yakushima

Isso Beach

Yakushima Island’s secluded, yet fully equipped, whitesand beach


Yurigahama Beach, Kagoshima.

Yurigahama Beach

Yoron Island’s mysterious ‘phantom’ oasis.

Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen

Watch the sunset from this Yakushima onsen on — and in— the sea.


5 Famous Foods You’ll Find in Kagoshima

Never tried ‘Turtle Hands’ or ‘Black Pork?’ Head south for these rare food finds.

Ibusuki

A uniquely Japanese experience: Trip to beachy volcanic sand baths!


Mount Kaimon

Kyushu’s answer to Mount Fuji offers a unique trail and spectacular views on the coast of Kagoshima.

Sakurajima

Lava trail hiking on an active volcano? Get up close and personal with Kagoshima’s most iconic landmark.


Senganen Garden

Where a garden, volcano and ocean make one memorable experience.

Shiroyama Park

A park steeped in history, with a seriously impressive view.

Other Destinations in Kyushu

Dazaifu shrine in Fukuoka prefecture

Fukuoka

Fukuoka prefecture isn't just about partying - but it's a good place to start.

Mountain Pass in Kumamoto Prefecture

Kumamoto

Between the smoking crater of Mount Aso in the east and the isolated islands of Amakusa in the west, Kumamoto has plenty to keep you enthralled.

Takachiho gorge in Miyazaki Prefecture

Miyazaki

Miyazaki is a mountainous and mango-growing prefecture to rival Okinawa in the tropical paradise stakes.

View over Mount Unzen Hot Spring - Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture Japan

Nagasaki

Looking out to the East, Nagasaki prefecture has long been the gateway between the outside world and Japan.

Beppu, in Oita prefecture, Japan's onsen town

Oita

Bathe in hell (in a good way) in onsen-filled Oita.

Ishigaki island lagoon in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan

Okinawa

White sand beaches and crystal blue waters, jungles and rare wildcats, centuries of unique native traditions, the birthplace of karate — this is Japan’s very own tropical island paradise.

Rice fields looking out to sea in Saga Prefecture, Japan

Saga

Saga is the smallest prefecture on the island of Kyushu best known for its prized, and pricey, pottery.