Lava trail hiking on an active volcano? Get up close and personal with Kagoshima’s most iconic landmark.
Sakurajima is one of Kagoshima Prefecture’s most famous attractions, and when you find out what’s in store it’s easy to see why. A constant presence looming in Kagoshima Bay, this 1,117-meter active volcano is almost constantly active. Minor eruptions can take place several times a day, regularly coating Kagoshima city in characteristic black ash.
For those who want a closer look, Sakurajima is easily accessible by ferry from Kagoshima city. Although you can’t approach the craters themselves, there are several observation points across the island where you can get a good view and maybe even see an eruption.
As well as the volcano itself, there are many other attractions worth visiting on Sakurajima. The Nagisa Lava Trail is a three-kilometer walk through jagged black rocks along the coast of the island that offers great views back across the bay to Kagoshima. Afterwards, you can soak your feet for free in the outdoor foot baths while admiring the view.
To get a sense of the power of Sakurajima, take a trip to the Kurokami shrine gate on the other side of the island. The most recent major eruption in 1914 covered this torii gate in ash, leaving only the very top section visible. The same eruption connected Sakurajima to Osumi Peninsula, meaning it is technically no longer an island.
Despite the danger, Sakurajima is home to over 4,000 people. The volcanic activity makes the soil extremely fertile, and the biggest daikon (radishes) in the world are grown here. Residents are well prepared for eruptions, with numerous concrete shelters dotted around the island and children wearing hard hats as a precaution when they go to school.
While there is accommodation available on the island, it’s easy to see all the attractions in a day trip so an overnight stay isn’t necessary. Those keen to find out more about Sakurajima during their trip can check out the free Sakurajima Visitor Center next to the island’s ferry terminal to learn about the volcano’s history and geology.