The Hidden Cities Series: Kagoshima, Japan - The ULTIMATE Travel Guide
Kagoshima City is a seaside city located on Kyushu Island. It is best known for Sakurajima, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Kagoshima is rich in nature, history and culture. The city is relatively cool where the average temperature is 18.9 degrees celsius, ranking 2nd out of the 47 prefectures in Japan. The best time to visit Kagoshima is during Spring and Autumn to enjoy seasonal food and the hot-spring season.
Getting to Kagoshima, Japan
Since there aren’t any direct flights to Kagoshima, you’ll have to transfer from Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei and Hong Kong. Alternatively, take a domestic flight for 1.5 to 2hrs from Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka or other areas within Japan.
The shortest flight time to Kagoshima is 6.5 to 7 hrs when there were direct flights from Singapore to Kagoshima. However, due to Covid-19 the flights are suspended.
Total Travel Time: 11 hours and above to Kagoshima
If you enjoy sightseeing, take a scenic train ride on the JR Kyushu train from Yoshimatsu train station. Catch 2 of the oldest train stations built during the Meij period, Kareigawa and Osumi-Yokogawa Station. Along the journey, spot bullet holes from World War II at the Osumi-Yokogawa Station.
Approaching Kagoshima, enjoy an AMAZING VIEW of Kinko Bay and Sakurajima volcano from across the sea. Some would argue that this could be the best way to view Mt. Sakurajima as it’s a whole experience.
*As of Jan 2022, there are 2 round trips a day.
Total travel time: ~2 hrs 30 mins
Cost: (Prices stated are adult fares)
3 day JR ALL Kyushu Pass 16,000 yen
3 day JR Southern Kyushu Pass 8,000 yen
Try out “Kagorin” a bike sharing system that allows you to rent a bike and drop it off at one of the 27 docking points available around Kagoshima City.
Alternatively, rent a bike from a local bicycle stand for an eco-friendly ride!
2. Streetcars & Transit Buses Using CUTE
The CUTE pass is an unlimited travel pass for buses (incl. Kagoshima View buses and Sakurajima Island View buses), streetcars and the Sakurajima Ferry.
For a one-day pass for Adults it’s 1,200 yen and 600 yen for children which is quite worth the money for the types of transport you can use.
Transportation in Kagoshima is fairly accessible and affordable. There are tourist buses that brings you sightseeing and taxis. Travelling on foot is not hard either.
*Public transportation are mostly wheelchair friendly.
City Tram/ Streetcar: 170 yen (SGD2) flat rate per trip.
3. Rent A Car
Alternatively, you can rent a car if it’s more convenient for you. But remember, you’ll be paying for petrol, parking and you’ll have to drive on the left side of the road. This option would be more expensive.
1. Go Sightseeing In A Mini Jeep
What better way to sightsee Kagoshima city than to drive around in a Mini Jeep? It goes up to 60km/h and can be driven on normal roads like regular cars. Do note that you need an International Driver’s License
Cost: 5,000 yen >
2. Ferris Wheel Amuran (Kagoshima)
Sitting above Amu Plaza Kagoshima is the Amuran Ferris wheel that looksover the city. The wheel spans 60 metres and is 91 metres above ground. Go on an evening ride to enjoy sunset hour as you overlook Kagoshima city.
Address: Japan, 〒890-0053 Kagoshima, Chuocho, １−1
To get there: 5 minutes walk from Kagoshima-chuo station
Cost: 500 yen
Visit the Terukuni Shrine
Visit the most important shrine in Kagoshima City! Be wowed at the entrance of the shrine as it features a tree pruned into a shape of a bird.
Address: 19-35 Terukunicho, Kagoshima, 892-0841, Japan
To get there:
20 mins walk from Kagoshima Chuo station or 5 mins walk from Tenmonkan bus stop
4. Shiroyama Observatory - Get an aerial view of Kagoshima City
Breathe in some fresh air and get a mini workout in as you climb up the Shiroyama Observatory. The observatory is not just great for its view of Kagoshima City. But it also tells a story as one of the historical spots in Kagoshima. A cave in the park called the Saigo Cave is where Saigo Takamori fought to his death during the rebellion.
Address: 22-13 Shiroyamacho, Kagoshima, 890-0000, Japan
5. Tsurumaru Castle
After visiting the Shiroyama Observatory, pop by the Tsurumaru Castle Ruins (Goromon Gate) which was newly rebuilt in 2020. The Goromon Gate is Japan’s largest castle gate to date and was built with extraordinary artistry that mimics the original gate.
Address: 7 Shiroyamacho, Kagoshima, 892-0853, Japan
To get there: 20mins walk down Shiroyama Observatory
6. Take A Scenic Ferry Ride To Sakurajima Volcano
Did you know? Sakurajima translates to “Cherry Blossom Island”.
Visit The Sakurajima International Volcanic Sabo Centre
Visit the museum to understand the locals’ co-living experiences with the world’s most active volcano.
Address: 203-1 Nojiricho, Kagoshima, 891-1541, Japan
Try The World's Smallest Mandarin Orange And The World's Largest Daikon
The Sakurajima Daikon is commonly found in Kagoshima and grown in volcanic ash. Can you guess how big the Daikon grows? It can grow as big as the weight of a primary school child, which is approximately 35kg!
Cost: 150 yen for adults / 80 yen for kids
Ride The Sakurajima Island View Bus
A great way to get around Sakurajima Island is to ride the Sakurajima Island View Bus. It’s an hour route with stops at the Sakurajima Visitor Centre, where you can visit the Sakurajima International Volcanic Sabo Centre, the Yunohira Observatory that overlooks the volcano’s crater, and other sightseeing spots on the island.
7. Downtown Shopping
Shop Along The Tenmonkan Area (Known as the whole downtown area)
Yamakataya - Tax Free Shopping
Yamakataya is Kagoshima’s very own department store founded in 1751. The department store carries high end luxury brands, designer fashion, local brands, and household products.
Visit the basement level for food and local souvenirs. Receive a 10% consumption tax refund when you shop at Yamakataya!
Address: 3-1 Kinseicho, Kagoshima, 892-8601, Japan
Opening hours: 10am – 7pm
To get there: Stop at Asahidori or Izurodori if you’re riding the streetcar.
Maruya Gardens is a shopping mall with curated local Japanese brands like “Brancher” that sells products unique to Kagoshima.
Address:6-5 Gofukumachi, Kagoshima, 892-0826, Japan
Opening hours: 10am – 8pm
To get there 1min walk from Izuro-dori streetcar stop
Amu Plaza Kagoshima
Located at Kagoshima Chuo Station, Amu Plaza is easily accessible. The mall carries familiar brands like Muji, Uniqlo and Tokyu Hands. Check out ABC Mart for affordable sneakers, sports shoes and apparel.
Address: Japan, 〒890-0053 Kagoshima, 中央町1-1
Opening hours: 10am – 8pm
To get there: Kagoshima Chuo Station
Food & Drinks
Here are 3 recommended food streets by the Kagoshima Tourism Board
The street offers Kagoshima’s local cuisine and traditional food suitable for casual meals. Walk down this street for Kagoshima specialties!
This street is known for its historic pubs and Izakaya-style restaurants. Many restaurants offer Kurobuta pork and chicken dishes from Kagoshima. Come for a meal in the evening to enjoy the bustling atmosphere!
3. Meizanbori - Meizan Canal
This street used to be a canal connected to Kinko Bay and it’s one of the oldest streets of Kagoshima. Relish in nostalgic sights as you wander into small shops within the narrow alley.
And here are some must-try food and drinks, covering the three meals in Kagoshima.
1. Satsumaimo (Sweet Potato)
Grown in an environment close to perfect on Sakurajima, Kagoshima’s sweet potatoes are the perfect light snack to start the day with as you get ready to explore the city. You can get them in shopping streets and enjoy them in various ways such as boiling, grilling, etc.
We think of Hainanese chicken rice dipped in chicken rice chilli wh when we think of chicken riceen we think of chicken rice.
But Keihan (鶏飯 / けいはん), though translated into ‘chicken rice is a dish of seasoned chicken with plain rice, shredded omelette, seaweed, and ginger, etc. (the exact combination of ingredients varies.) It is the most famous meal from Amami Oshima (an island in Kagoshima).
Cost: 800yen ~ 1000yen
Delve into the taste of Japanese confectionery with this custard bun. The custard cream in Kasutadon (かすたどん) is made from Kagoshima eggs and has a soft taste. The custard is the main point of the bun and is said to be a taste that will satisfy both the young and old.
Here is a place to try out: 蒸氣屋, Satsuma Jokiya
Other products sold: https://www.jokiya.co.jp/products/
Location: 13-14 Higashisengokucho, Kagoshima, 892-0842, Japan (Approx. 1 minute’s walk from the Tenmonkan-dori streetcar stop)
Opens from: 9:00am to 7:00pm
4. Kurobuta Pork
The Kurobuta pork is a brand name for pork unique to Kagoshima. The meat from Kurobuta is delicate textured, tender meat with clean-tasting fat and highly nutritious. Also known as the Waygu of the pork world, this pork is high on our must-try list, especially if it is dipped into shabu-shabu!
Here is a place to try out: かごしま黒豚 六白亭, Roppakutei
Location: Japan, 〒890-0046 Kagoshima, Nishida, 2 Chome−12−34, Hotel Union, 1F (Approx. 5 minute’s walk from the Kagoshima-Chūō Station)
Opens from (DAY TIME): 11:30am ~ 2:30pm (Last Order 2:00pm)
Opens from (NIGHT TIME): 5:30pm ~ 10:30pm (Last Order 10:00pm)
Special Mention: Satsuma Shochu
For those who can drink, the Satsuma Shochu (薩摩焼酎 / さつましょうちゅう), a distilled spirit, cannot be ignored. Pair it with Kurobuta Pork, and you will be amazed by what you will taste.
Ending the list with a refreshing Kagoshima shaved ice dessert called ‘Shirokuma’ (白熊 / しろくま.) Translated into ‘Polar bear,’ enjoy the cute dessert that resembles a polar bear’s face (when viewed from above), topped with condensed milk and fruits.
Here is a place to try out: 白熊菓琲, Shirokuma Cafe (https://1f.mujyaki.co.jp/)
Cost: 450yen ~ 1290yen
Location: 5-8 Sennichicho, Kagoshima, 892-0843, Japan (Approx. 3 minute’s walk from Tenmonkan streetcar stop)
Opens from: 11:00am ~ 7:00 pm JST (Last Order 6:15 pm) *Business hours may change depending on the season and weather.
Though we have this all listed out, there are still so many dishes out there to explore. Use this as your starting point and adventure out to conquer the rest.
#WalkalongTip: There are also many food options available for our Muslim friends,, and some local restaurants there will go out their way to prepare things halal if notified in advance.
We have gathered some travel tips from locals:
When to visit Kagoshima?
The best time to visit Kagoshima is in Spring during the Cherry Blossom season. If you want to catch the Cherry Blossom viewing, kick start your trip to Japan at the end of March from Kagoshima and make your way up north as the Sakura blossoms! Avoid June as it is the rainy season and you can’t get good pictures.
There is a local saying that Japanese “eats with the season”. This is because the local dishes change as the season changes with the different harvests. For example, in winter, there are more citrus oranges, daikon, and hotpot.
Best part of the city to stay?
The downtown area, which is Tenmonkan area. There are lots of hotels so it’s quite convenient. You’ll be able to experience all of the restaurants and it’s a good place to start exploring the city from its history to its culture. This is the most accessible and convenient area for tourists.
How long should you stay in Kagoshima?
One week to explore Kagoshima City and 1-2 places outside of the city. If you have 10 days it’ll allow you to go around the mainland of Kagoshima. About 2 weeks if you want to explore the surrounding islands and to experience the real Kagoshima.
Are there language challenges in Kagoshima?
It is not a major problem although there are not many English speakers and signs. But within the city centre, there are enough English signage and information. The official websites for attractions and malls in Kagoshima do have English and Chinese options which are quite helpful.
People in general are very helpful even if they do not speak fluent English. Major transportation like the JR train stations and ferry will have English signage.
ONE reason to visit Kagoshima?
Visit for the local experience. The city is more down to earth and a different cultural experience compared to other parts of the country.
If you’re interested in a group virtual tour to Kagoshima, reach out to us today!