Updated October 5, 2016
[intro title=”Why visit Kagoshima, Japan?” text=”What’s there to see? Guest writer Halit Bozdogan has 6 suggestions.”]
Japan‘s Southernmost city, Kagoshima, is well off the tourist track for most travelers, but it shouldn’t be. There’s plenty to see and do and its convenient (and highly reliable) tram system means you’ll have no problems getting around town. That said, with its sub-tropical climate, it’s best to visit during Spring or Autumn when the weather is more likely to cooperate.
In Kagoshima, the stunning volcano across the bay is the main event. Take a short ferry to hike around the base or head to one of several hot springs in the immediate area, and soak away your jet lag in volcanically heated mineral water. For the best views, go in Spring (or even Summer) — clouds cover tends to obscure the view in other seasons.
A short walk away from the ferry terminal, take a stroll on this boardwalk facing Sakurajima. It’s packed with shops and restaurants with maybe the best view of the volcano and bay. Go in the early evening to see it lit up like Tokyo during the lantern festival.
Only a few stops down from the train station, Tenmonkan’s the main commercial district and is packed full of stores and great places to eat. Busy, vibrant and reasonably priced, it’s probably the best place to get a hotel as it affords a tram ride to pretty much any place you need to go.
Connected to Kagoshima’s main train station, Amu Plaza’s a multi-level shopping center with hundreds of shops, stalls, cafes and arcades to keep you entertained for hours. There’s a modern cinema complex on the top floor and there’s a Ferris wheel on the roof that’s a great place to get shots of the city from above.
Terukuni Shrine’s a beautiful Shinto shrine located just behind Tenmonkan. The location’s remarkably serene location, given its central location. With the exception of New Year’s when it’s full to bursting with people celebrating, the grounds offer a nice refuge to contemplate and rest for a while after sightseeing all day.
Once a Shimazu clan residence, Sengan-en and the garden’s around it are worth venturing away from the city center for an an afternoon. Walk the traditional Japanese gardens, check out the priceless artifacts at the Shoko Shuseikan Museum (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and observe the workers cutting glass at the Satsuma “kiriko” factory.
Kagoshima may lack the hustle and bustle of major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, but it’s worth a stop on your RTW trip to see the sights