May 22, 2015


Kagoshima(鹿児島)is located at the south western part of Kyushu(九州). It was one of the last few prefectures I went, as I couldn't quite find a 'pull' factor, other than it being famous for the soft and delicious black pork. I like flowers but not greenery, so the rave about Yakushima(屋久島)by people around me didn't touch me either.

It was only until I watched a TV show on top 10 ranking of affordable ryokan(旅館)in Japan and the one ranked number 1 is in Kagoshima, that I finally found my reason to go :P In the end, realized there are actually MANY things to see and do in Kagoshima, as much as Nagasaki(長崎), just that Kagoshima has more nature and Nagasaki more cultural sites~

Friend and I went in early August, via domestic airline from Kobe, where we were living. We first explored the Kagoshima City area. Went to Senganen(仙巌園), a Japanese landscape garden near Kagoshima city's downtown. It was constructed in 1658 by one of the most powerful feudal clans during the Edo period-- Shimazu Clan. Kagoshima's icon-- Sakurajima(桜島)is just across the bay from the garden. It is a very active volcano that has small eruptions every day.

Passed by Tsumaru Castle Ruins. It was the lotus blooming season!

Yataimura(屋台村)near Kagoshima Chuo station is not just opened at night, but has some stalls opened in the day as well. The ramen was average, though the black pork shabu shabu was awesome!

Another specialty of Kagoshima is Chicken Sashimi. Took me some courage to try, but just like pufferfish, feel that only restaurants that are up to the standard would serve this challenging dish, so it should be fine... Had my first try at Yamauchi Nojo(山内農場), a good Izakaya famous for Kagoshima's chicken and shochu(焼酎). Chicken sashimi was much better than I had expected. The chicken taste was distinct, but it wasn't gross.

There are quite a few summer festivals all over the prefecture in August. We went to Kajiki Summer Festival(加治木町夏祭り・花火大会)that fitted our schedule. Venue was 15 minutes walking distance from Kajiki station. It was so much fun!

Stayed at Sun Days Inn, a good business hotel at Kagoshima City's downtown. 8300 yen per night for 2 pax, affordable, good location and the breakfast was SO GOOD! buffet style with local chicken porridge and curry rice (for breakfast, seriously?!)

Went to Yakushima for 2D1N, a subtropical island off Kyushu's coast. We went there via the daily car ferry, the cheapest option (around 9000 yen round trip), which took 4 hours. Yakushima has many old cedar trees that are said to be more than a thousand years old. Definitely a paradise for people who enjoy hiking in untouched nature!

There are 3 main cedar attractions-- Shiratani Unsuikyo(白谷雲水峡), Yakusugi Land(屋久杉ランド)and Jomonsugi(縄文杉). Chose to go to Shiratani as it was close, not too time-consuming nor difficult to hike, and served as the inspiration for Ghibli's Mononoke Hime. There were deer roaming around freely, and lush greenery and waterfalls, enjoyable even for me~

Couldn't resist buying these postcards:

Stayed at Minshuku Takesugi(民宿たけすぎ)which is conveniently located near the port. 6000 yen per night per pax, inclusive of 2 meals. Value for money and service was pretty good. Tobiuo(飛魚)seems to be a specialty of the area. Also tried Yakushima's Shochu(焼酎).

During June to August, watching sea turtles come to the shore and lay eggs is possible, though reservation is required.

We had some time before boarding the ferry back the next day, so checked out the beautiful beach a few bus stops away, recommended by the Minshuku owner.

The 3rd part of the trip was focused on Satsuma Peninsula, the southwestern region of Kagoshima prefecture, where we spent 1D1N. It is famous for its hot spring--Ibusuki Onsen(指宿温泉), sand bath and cultural sites.

The supposedly highlight of my trip was the number 1 ranked affordable ryokan-- Kinkourou(錦江楼)at Ibusuki Onsen. 1 night stay was 12500 yen per pax, inclusive of 2 meals and a sand bath. Dinner included the famous 3 "black" meat(黒豚、黒牛、黒薩摩鶏)from Kagoshima. The food and stay was decent, though the chicken sashimi we had at Izakaya mentioned earlier was still better.

During the day, went to Saraku Sand Bath Hall via a short taxi trip for the sand bath included in the stay package. (Bus shuttle is provided by the ryokan but at certain timings only. ) My 2nd sand bath experience, this time by the beach! More fun than relaxing/comfortable for me.

Also went to see sand bars that was on the way. It was formed half way when we arrived, not enough to join to the small island off the coast.

There is a direct bus from the Saraku Sand Bath Hall to the Chiran area, where we planned to visit Chiran Tokko Museum(知覧特攻平和会館)that commemorates World War II suicide attack (kamikaze) units. It exhibits letters and belongings of the kamikaze pilots. The museum does not glorify what they did, but simply shared about their lives. Couldn't control my tears reading those letters and finished half a pack of tissue...

Didn't have time for Chiran Samurai district. Other attractions we didn't cover include Kirishima(霧島), an active volcanic mountain range in between Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures good for hiking, as well as Tanegashima(種子島)that has a space center. Indeed, Kagoshima prefecture has too many things to offer!


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