From Relaxing Islands to Informative Museums, Kagoshima has it
By Christy Bogan
There are always new places to visit and during each adventure, you’ll see groundbreaking and exciting new parts of the world. One of those adventures you should go explore is Kagoshima, Japan.
The nation recently reopened their doors to tourists again. With that, they have new exhibits, hotels, and attractions that anyone who wants to see Japan should venture to.
There you’ll find museums, shrines, amazing food (especially wagyu), and several islands off the coast with their own special attractions.
With references from someone who lived there for seven years and drawing inspiration from other travel blogs, here is a list of places to visit in Kagoshima.
Why Go To This Part of Japan?
Japan is a wonderful country full of so much culture that it’s hard to pick where you should go. Tokyo is a city of technology, great food, and fast-paced life. Mt. Fuji is a sight to behold. Hiroshima is a historical city with so much to learn. Izumo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagasaki, Hakone, and other cities each have their own cultures to show.
Chris Lawson, the co-founder, and director of the communications agency Sterling Content was able to answer some questions for me about Kagoshima.
Since he lived in Kagoshima for seven years, here is what he had to say about the prefecture:
“Kagoshima is special because of the diversity of attractions it offers. As the prefecture comprises two peninsulas, stretches 600 kilometers down to Okinawa, and includes more than 25 inhabited islands, it’s possible to enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities.
“Visitors can hike in the mountains, soak in hot springs (including a unique sand bath), relax on beaches, try watersports, paddle through mangroves, explore historic forests, and much more.
“The prefecture is more rural than urban, but Kagoshima City is also great for shopping, museums, and entertainment.”
Where To Kagoshima?
Wagyu Festival in Kagoshima
One of Japan’s exports is the perfectly marbled, rich-flavoring beef, wagyu. Kagoshima is the top producer in the country, so you’ll have to eat the best in the world.
Every five years, the producers of wagyu come together to showcase the different cattle and beef they’ve been making. Kagoshima is well-known in competitions for a variety of different reasons, but they have one of the best wagyu there.
This festival is also known as the Wagyu Olympics since they are held every five years and in different locations every year. In October 2022, Kagoshima hosted the Wagyu Olympics for the second time! They made history with this since Kagoshima is the first prefecture to host since its beginning in 1966.
Learn more about Kagoshima’s wagyu here.
Kirishima Jingu Shrine
In February 2022, this shrine was labeled as a national treasure. Built in 1715, the Kirishima Jingu Shrine is known for its architecture and history. Located in Kirishima City on the slopes of Mt. Kirishima, it is surrounded by beautiful cherry blossoms, decorations, and carvings.
Since Kirishima City is known as “the land where gods once descended”, this shrine has extreme importance due to the sacredness it holds. If you want to fully understand why this shrine has been dubbed as a national treasure, then you’ll have to go and submerge yourself in their world.
The Many Museums of Kagoshima
Lawson was able to give a list of museums that are noteworthy. First is the Museum of the Meiji.
“There is the Museum of the Meiji Restoration, which offers insight into the history of the prefecture.
The Meiji was a huge restoration that Japan underwent at the end of the samurai era and the beginning of the modernization of the country. Through the museum, you can see a variety of different changes that Japan went through in order to become the country it is today.
With life-sized robots to show the culture of Kagoshima, you can properly see the retelling of their story. Go at your own pace through the museum with digital audio recordings available in English throughout the exhibits.
“Reimeikan, which has extensive displays on the history of the prefecture as well as ancient sword-making.”
The Reimeikan Museum tells a story of the Kagoshima culture through time. This museum is located in Tsurumaru castle, with a moat and everything. If that alone isn’t reason enough to experience these exhibits, I don’t know what is.
With three floors of exhibits, the museum showcases history, culture, sword-making, and the impact Kagoshima has on Japan.
“The Satsuma Students Museum in Kushikino, about 45 minutes from Kagoshima City by train, provides information on the young people who left Kagoshima in 1865 to study in the UK (despite it being banned to leave Japan at the time) and what they achieved after completing their studies.”
Lastly, the Satsuma Students Museum is incredibly unique with a fascinating story to tell. Any lover of knowledge and education can imagine moving to a new country in order to pursue an education, many have done so. However, what makes this story different is how the students snuck out of Japan.
The museum follows the journey those nineteen students had from their departure to their adventures in Europe, and their return home. It includes what these students did once they returned home and the benefits they brought with them.
Beef, Sake, and Shopping
Asian food is known for its noodles, meats, and use of spices. In Japan, you’ll find a variety of dishes that will satisfy your hunger after a day of tourism.
Lawson gives a list of some locations that everyone should go to: “A favorite in Kagoshima City is Ichi Ni San, whose dishes feature the prefecture’s famous ‘black pork.’ The Berkshire pig is fed on local sweet potatoes, which gives it a tasty flavor.
For an international and friendly vibe, I like Joe’s in Satsumasendai for food and beer from almost every corner of the world.”
Among each of these listed, the number of vendors or restaurants within walking distance of each attraction is large. Even if it’s a café, Kagoshima has the rural and cozy atmosphere you’re looking for.
The Islands of Kagoshima
Since there are plenty of attractions to visit on the mainland, the islands off the coast of Japan are just as popular. With each island having its own specialties, each is an adventure entirely on its own.
Lawson tells us, “I enjoyed taking visitors to the islands of Kagoshima, including Tanegashima (famous for surfing and one of Japan’s rocket launch sites – you can take a tour), and Amami Oshima, (famous for beaches and delicious chicken keihan, a local dish).
For a relaxing trip, I recommend Akune Oshima, a 10-minute ferry ride off the coast of Akune. It is possible to go for a day trip or stay in one of the cabins on this small island, which has a white sand beach and deer.”
From leisure to adventure, these islands have a bit of everything you could need. Kagoshima has plenty to offer, and since its borders are welcoming tourists in again, now is the best time to start booking your trip to Japan.