Located in the southwestern region of Kyushu, Kagoshima Prefecture is a captivating destination that beckons travelers with its natural landscapes, cultural heritage and delicious local cuisine.
17 Things To Do in Kagoshima
From the majestic Sakurajima volcano to the world-renowned Kagoshima wagyu beef, Kagoshima Prefecture offers diverse experiences for all. Join us as we explore the top things to do in Kagoshima.
- Marvel at the Mighty Sakurajima Volcano
- Take In the Views From Shiroyama Observatory
- Visit Kirishima Jingu
- Experience Kagoshima's Onsen Culture
- Take a Sand Bath in Ibusuki Onsen
- Enjoy a Bowl of Kagoshima Ramen
- Try Delicious Kagoshima Wagyu Beef
- Bite Into Kagoshima's Sweet Potato Treats
- Sample Kagoshima Shochu
- Sip on Kagoshima Green Tea
- Stroll Through Sengan-en Garden
- Shop 'til You Drop in Tenmonkan Shopping Street
- Visit Izumi City
- Wander Around the Chiran Samurai District
- Immerse Yourself in History at the Kagoshima Castle Ruins
- Explore the Enchanting Yakushima Island
- Head to Kyushu's Southernmost Point
1. Marvel at the Mighty Sakurajima Volcano
Start your Kagoshima adventure by experiencing the awe-inspiring Sakurajima, one of Kyushu's most active volcanoes. Hop on a quick ferry ride from Kagoshima Port. Once on the island, hike coastal trails and visit numerous observatories dotted around the island while taking in the expansive views Kinko Bay.
For the adventurous, consider cycling around the island on this all-inclusive tour. You might even catch an eruption right before your eyes! Alternatively, enjoy Sakurajima from afar on this vegan lunch cruise.
2. Take In the Views From Shiroyama Observatory
Climb up to the Shiroyama Observatory and be rewarded with panoramic views of Kagoshima City and the mighty Sakurajima. Located on Mount Shiroyama, this vantage point offers an ideal spot to catch the sunrise or sunset. After taking in the views, swing by Shiroyama Hotel for an expertly crafted cocktail using local spirits and ingredients.
3. Visit Kirishima Jingu
Kirishima Jingu is a sacred Shinto shrine located in Kirishima and holds deep cultural and historical significance in the region. Situated at the base of the Kirishima mountain range, surrounded by nature, the shrine offers travelers a spiritual and serene atmosphere. Also check out the nearby mask museum, which features various masks from around Japan and the world.
4. Experience Kagoshima's Onsen Culture
Rejuvenate your body and mind in Kagoshima's soothing hot springs. Thanks to Sakurajima's geothermal activity, Kagoshima is home to 2,730 hot spring sources. Kirishima Onsen, located in the Kirishima mountain range, is a popular retreat for those who want to soak while surrounded by nature and well worth a detour.
5. Take a Sand Bath in Ibusuki Onsen
Ibusuki Onsen is renowned for its natural hot sand baths known as sunamushi. Travelers can get buried in the sand while overlooking the glistening Kinko Bay. (It sounds unconformable, but it really isn't!)
After your relaxation session, don't miss the chance to visit the iconic Mount Kaimon, nicknamed the "Fuji of Satsuma," and try somen nagashi, a local delicacy of cold noodles served in a spinning pool of water. A little further down the road is Makurazaki, where you can partake in a dashi workshop and learn how to make one of Japan's most iconic ingredients.
6. Enjoy a Bowl of Kagoshima Ramen
A visit to Kagoshima Prefecture wouldn't be be complete without trying Kagoshima ramen. This regional variation of Japan's most famous noodle dish is known for being hearty and rich in flavor, with Kagoshima pork as its star ingredient. A bowl of Kagoshima ramen is filled to the brim with pork-based broth, pork slices, firm noodles, and an assortment of toppings.
7. Try Delicious Kagoshima Wagyu Beef
Experience the unmatched flavors of Kagoshima wagyu beef, a sought-after culinary gem in Japan. This premium beef is a gastronomic delight known for its marbling and tender texture. Head to a local restaurant where you can cooking it to your liking in the fun and lively ambience of a yakiniku restaurant.
8. Bite Into Kagoshima's Sweet Potato Treats
Kagoshima's talented chefs, bakers and cooks have taken sweet potatoes to new heights. From desserts like pies, cakes and ice cream to savory delights such as sweet potato tempura and croquettes, the versatility of this humble vegetable is the star of many Kagoshima culinary offerings. Keep your eyes peeled as your travel!
9. Sample Kagoshima Shochu
Kagoshima's specialty alcoholic beverage is shochu, a distilled liquor made from sweet potatoes. With a rich cultural heritage, this distilled spirit is a must-try. Make time in your itinerary for a night out at a local izakaya to indulge in Kagoshima foods and shochu.
10. Sip on Kagoshima Green Tea
Kagoshima is renowned for its exceptional green tea, including the aromatic Kagoshima matcha. In fact, Kagoshima is Japan's second-biggest green tea producer, coming second only to Shizuoka. With its fertile soil and favorable climate, the prefecture grows high-quality tea leaves that are transformed into complex blends and fine powder for tea lovers everywhere.
11. Stroll Around Sengan-en Garden
Step into a world of tranquility at Sengan-en, a traditional Japanese garden along the Kinko Bay coast. Dating back to the Edo period (1603–1867), this meticulously landscaped oasis treats visitors to breathtaking views of Sakurajima and Kagoshima Bay. Consider joining a tour inside the Shimadzu family home, a historical structure made from 1,000-year-old Japanese cedar trees.
12. Shop 'til You Drop in Tenmonkan Shopping Street
Tenmonkan, Kagoshima City's bustling shopping district, has many shops selling local crafts, fashion and delicious street food. It's a great place to shop for souvenirs or grab a quick bite.
Take the opportunity to pick up a drink at Coffee Soldier, owned by a two-time All Japan Barista Champion. There are also a few hipster coffee shops for those looking for a caffeine kick.
13. Visit Izumi City
Located in the northern part of Kagoshima Prefecture, Izumi is known for its countryside landscapes, traditional charm and abundance of cranes who migrate here in the winter. If you happen to visit outside of the migration season, don't worry. You can learn what makes Izumi a favorite destination for eight of the world's 15 species of cranes at the Izumi Crane Museum and Crane Park year-round.
14. Wander Around the Chiran Samurai District
A short bus ride from central Kagoshima City, the Chiran Samurai District dates back at least 250 years. This preserved samurai neighborhood showcases more than 500 traditional residences from Japan's feudal era, which earned the district its nickname of "Little Kyoto of Satsuma." There are also seven gardens open to the public with distinct landscaping styles.
15. Immerse Yourself in History at the Kagoshima Castle Ruins
Visit the Kagoshima Castle ruins, also known as Tsurumaru Castle, for a glimpse into the prefecture's samurai past. Though Kagoshima Castle was destroyed in a fire in 1874, some moats and stone walls remain. The Goromon Gate, which marks the entrance to what were the castle grounds, was rebuilt in the 2010s and opened to the public in 2018.
You can learn about this landmark's political and cultural significance through informative exhibits and displays about Japan's feudal era at Kagoshima History Museum and Fine Arts Center.
16. Explore the Enchanting Yakushima Island
Embark on an unforgettable adventure to Yakushima, one of Kagoshima Prefecture's UNESCO World Heritage sites, famous for its ancient forests. Hike through moss-covered trails and awe at ancient cedar trees known as yakusugi. These massive trees live for centuries. At Yakusugi Land, you can see dozens of yakusugi trees over 1,000 years old.
17. Head to Kyushu's Southernmost Point
To see Kagoshima's natural beauty at its prettiest and wildest, head to the Osumi Peninsula. The area boasts stunning landscapes, lush forests and views of the Pacific Ocean. Travelers can enjoy scenic drives along the coastline, pristine sandy beaches and crystal-clear blue waterfalls that will take their breath away. If your schedule allows, go to Cape Sata, the southernmost point of Kyushu, where you can catch incredible sunsets.
With its volcanic landscapes, rich history and culinary delights, Kagoshima offers visitors an array of captivating experiences.
Want to be sure to eat well? Check out our foodie's guide to Kagoshima Prefecture.