Kagoshima and surrounding islands

I just visited Kagoshima and some islands nearby, and wanted to report on it, inspired by the “islands” thread.

I flew there from Shanghai, and there are 3 direct flights per week on China Eastern. From Taiwan, you might have to change.

In general, Kagoshima is a very nice change from big cities like Tokyo. It has a small town feel, with a population of around 600,000. It is situated on a bay, and in the middle of the bay lies Sakurajima, a volcanic island. Now island is not actually correct – an eruption in 1914 spewed out so much lava that it became connected with the main island (Kyushu). But that is on the far side of the island from Kagoshima, and is only a narrow neck.

The vegetation and scenery on Sakurajima is beautiful. If you stay there, I recommend the Rainbow Inn. It has Japanese rooms overlooking the ocean, and has a “magma onsen (hot springs).” You can bike around the island, although there are a lot of hills and it takes 4 hours. I also recommend the “Ougaku” ceramics shop, where they produce vases, cups, and other goods. There are 6 female owners, and they all make ceramics.

Sakurajima is accessible by ferry from Kagoshima, and it runs 24 hours. It only costs 150 yen!

About 1 hr 40 minutes south of Kagoshima by jet foil (or nearly 4 hours by ferry) is the island of Yakushima. Yakushima has giant cedar trees that are thousands of years old. Unfortunately we were there for only 1 night, and the bus schedule did not permit hiking into the mountains. Instead we hiked along the ocean, where we found a very curious creature – orange crabs that are about 2-3 inches wide. Crabs that are walking around the color of crabs that already cooked! At night, I’ve never seen so many stars in my life.

There are 7-8 islands that can be visited, and they stretch all the way down to Okinawa. The farthest one takes nearly 14 hours to reach by ferry from Kagoshima.

All in all, it was a very relaxing vacation, and a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai.

Go to Nagasaki next time, it is one of the prettiest towns in the WHOLE world… Hey, but what I liked most about Kagoshima was the volcano simmering just across the water from town… Was it still smoking when you visited?

Will do. Nagasaki’s on the list.

The volcano wasn’t smoking when I went, but it was permanently covered by low clouds so the peak was never visible – kind of mysterious.