Sakurajima – 桜島
Kagoshima, the main southernmost city of Kyūshū Island, is symbolized by its active volcano “Sakurajima“, one of the most famous landmarks of this region.
What’s special about Sakurajima?
Thanks to its mild climate, the geographic conformation with the volcano and the strong dialect, Kagoshima is often related to Naples (Italy). The two cities are sister towns since 1960.
Its active volcano is always blowing smoke, it is possible to see it from everywhere in Kagoshima.
The Sakurajima is 1117 m high, its vast shape lays on a 50 square km area. Sakurajima used to be an Island, separated from the mainland, but the solidified lava of the 1914 eruption led Satsuma Peninsula to the Kinkō Bay across the shore.
Another eruption happened on August 8th 2013, when Kagoshima city was covered by a big amount of ash and the sky became immediately dark for the few following days.
The warm city of Kagoshima extends along the coast and many palm trees grow here. You can somehow feel the atmosphere of Okinawa and other southern destinations. Finally, due to the influence of the volcano there’s plenty of hot springs around.
How to reach Sakurajima
Click here to know how to reach Kagoshima and Sakurajima.
– Kagoshima is the Japanese Naples –
As Italians, we visited Kagoshima to see with our eyes if the two cities have really so much in common.
When we arrived at Kagoshima Central Station we immediately noticed the ferris wheel on the top of the building. It was the first time for us to see a ferris wheel on a train station.
In front of the station building you can find a streetcar stop. Kagoshima in fact, is one of the three cities of Kyūshū still having a tramway system, the other two are Kumamoto and Nagasaki.
We got on a Line 2 tram bound to Kagoshima Statuon* and arrived at the stop called “Sakurajima Sambashi“, then stepped on a ferry heading to Sakurajima.
Since the volcano is located right in front of Kagoshima’s port, I got there in just 15 minutes.
* note: Kagoshima owns two main railway stations: Kagoshima Station is the former main station, and now handles only local traffic; Kagoshima-Chuo (Central) Station is instead the main Hub of the city, and you are likely to enter the city from this station.
From the ferry, we saw the shape of Sakurajima capped by clouds. It was the first time for us getting so close to an active volcano, we felt somehow thrilled!
When you get off the ferry, you find yourself in front of the Visitor Center. Here you can learn about Sakurajima’s features, ecology and history through plastic dioramas, videos and other interesting documents. There are also pieces of solidified lava exposed here and there.
In addiction, thanks to the fertility of the terrain, because of the minerals contained in magma, rare species of plants grow here.
We will now introduce some of the spots we visited in Sakurajima and we most recommend:
This observatory is located 380 m high above the sea level, and it is possible to behold Sakurajima’s eastern crater from here.
There is no doubt Sakurajima’s nature has been worshipped by men from the ancient times. At Kurokami Shrine two thirds of the torii gate are buried by the ashes, this was caused by the 1914 eruption.
You can enjoy this hot spring, where the water is warmed up by Sakurajima’s caldera located beneath it. Thanks to the wide, bright window you can contemplate the landscape while taking a warm bath.
To conclude, there are two nice spots from where you can enjoy a view on Kagoshima city:
The first is Shiroyama Park, which used to host Kagoshima’s castle on its ground. Nowadays it is a panoramic terrace very appreciated by Kagoshima citizens and tourists.
From here there is a gorgeous view on the whole city, the Kinkō bay and, of course, Sakurajima. We recommend Shiroyama Park especially to enjoy night views and to photographers.
A second spot is a Japanese garden called Sengan-en. You can reach it by bus from Kagoshima Central Station or Shiroyama Park.
This place is pure beauty, the Japanese-style garden and the traditional buildings are very photogenic.
Kagoshima Prefecture boasts really a lot of wonderful sights. From the exhotic Yakushima Island, with its rare plants and flowers to the rural Satsuma peninsula, and the Kirishima volcanoes range in the north. Kagoshima is awaiting for you!