Kagoshima Bucket List: 10 Best Things to Do in Kagoshima, Japan

Kagoshima Tourist Attractions, Best Activities to do, and places to see in Kagoshima

Kyogetsu-Tei - Best Things to do in Kagoshima photo by Sanjo via Wikipedia CC

What are the top tourist attractions to visit in Kagoshima, Japan?

Japan is divided into eight regions, which branch out to 47 prefectures. The city of Kagoshima is the capital of Kagoshima Prefecture, belonging to the Kyushu region. This beautiful city is often compared to Naples, an Italian city because they share a similarly mild climate while being home to a scenic stratovolcano. Sakurajima is to Japan’s Kagoshima, while Mount Vesuvius is to Italy’s Naples.

Kyogetsu-Tei - Best Things to do in Kagoshima photo by Sanjo via Wikipedia CC
Kyogetsu-Tei – Best Things to do in Kagoshima photo by Sanjo via Wikipedia CC

The city of Kagoshima is home to a distinct dialect called Satsug? or the Kagoshima dialect. This part of Japan is, without a doubt, home to many yet to be explored wonders, and on this list, you shall find out the best things to do in this wonderful city.

Learn about black vinegar-making

Kagoshima Black Vinegar Making photo via Kagoshima Travel Guide FB Page
Kagoshima Black Vinegar Making photo via Kagoshima Travel Guide FB Page

The making of black vinegar is an age-old practice in Kagoshima, which mainly makes use of rice malt, steamed rice, and underground water. The warm climate, availability of an excellent water source, and the effective use of ceramic jars to age the rice vinegar gives its mellow taste. This rich, mild taste complements many of Japan’s cuisine. The making of this healthy condiment is a must-see at the Kurozu Information Center and a must-try for your palette.

Try Shochu

Shochu is probably the best spirit you’ve probably never tasted yet. This distilled spirit is most similar to vodka mainly because of its clear color and characteristics. Shochu is typically extracted from rice, sweet potatoes, barley, buckwheat, and brown sugar. Its alcohol content is usually weaker than whiskey but stronger than wine and sake.

Shochu photo by Neshad via Wikipedia CC
Shochu photo By Nesnad – Own work, CC BY 4.0,

Kagoshima Prefecture is recognized by the World Trade Organization as the home to shochu, where over 113 distilleries mature this unforgettable drink. If you’re up for a unique drinking experience, trying shochu is a must-do while in Kagoshima.

Visit the majestic Sakurajima

Sakurajima by Parco Chan via Unsplash
Sakurajima by Parco Chan via Unsplash

Sakurajima is one of the main attractions of Kagoshima, as well as Kyushu. This active volcano is usually smoking, with minor eruptions taking place many times per day. Standing at around 3,664 ft with a circumference of about 50 km, this sight is impossible to ignore. It’s three main peaks are Kita-dake (north summit), Naka-dake (middle peak, and Minami-dake (southern peak). Among these peaks, the Minami dake peak is the most active. Though there is a strict prohibition against approaching the volcano’s craters, which is sensible, observation points that are 3km-away are available for you to observe. If this is not one for the books, what is?

Have a historical tour at the Senganen Garden

Senganen Garden by STA3816 via Wikipedia CC
Senganen Garden By STA3816 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC

This Japanese style landscape garden offers a scenic view of nature where you can see the Sakurajima, Kagoshima Bay, refreshing ponds, streams, shrines, and bamboo grove. At the center of this garden is the Iso Residence, a historic home built in 1658, which became the primary residence of the Shimazu family. If you want to see how Japanese homes looked in the 1890s, this house is perfect for you. Its aesthetic remains unchanged and is well preserved, making it a valuable attraction of Kagoshima.

Spend a day at the Shiroyama Park

View from Shiroyama Park
View from Shiroyama Park

The Shirayoma Park hailed its name from shirayoma, which means “castle mountain.” In the olden times, the mountain this park extends to served as a defense against any attacks towards the castle. The mountain connected to this park stands at around 351 ft with its mountain foot being a location to the Reimeikan Museum. Other famous attractions viewable within the park are the Shiroyama Observatory and the Hot Spring Satsuma-no-Yu.

Attend the traditional event of Sogadon-no-Kasayaki

Sogadon no Kasayaki
Sogadon no Kasayaki

This long-established event features the epic tale, Soga Monogatari, a story between two revenging Soga brothers. During the 12th century in Japan, the father of the two young boys was killed because of land rights. Since Soga brothers grew up to be skilled fighters, they avenged the death of their father. They end up successfully retrieving his sword against the oppressor. As part of their revenge, the Soga brothers burned a pile of paper umbrellas instead of torches. Up to today, around July, this event is commemorated through traditional performances. Men dress in Japanese clothing as they sing and burn around 300 umbrellas. Before setting the pile on fire, a traditional Japanese performance is shown in the form of karate demonstrations, Japanese drum performances, and Satsuma’s classic martial art. Interested? Make sure you make time for this annual event, which usually happens in Kotsuki-gawa Riverside.

Explore the Kagoshima Castle

Water moat and stone wall of Kagoshima Castle by Vanquish0 via Wikipedia CC
Water moat and stone wall of Kagoshima Castle By Vanquish0 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC

This castle, also known as the Tsurumaru Castle, is notable for being a humble abode to the richest feudal rulers in Japan during the 1600s. This castle is small in scale and more inferior in quality compared to other palaces, as the intention was to decrease the likelihood of having the castle attacked during a violent feud. Today, what’s left out of this meek castle is its artful ruins, its ancient moats, and old stonewalls.

Have a hearty Kagoshima ramen

Kagoshima ramen by JKT-c via Wikipedia CC
Kagoshima ramen By JKT-c – Taken by JKT-c., CC BY 3.0, CC

Ramen is one of the most popular features of Japan, with every region giving ramen their unique twist and taste. Kagoshima ramen derives its heart-warming flavor from pork bone broth and chicken stock. This cloudy soup also contains vegetables, dried sardines, dried mushrooms, and kelp. Compared to other local varieties, this ramen has thicker noodles and is served with pickled radish.

Learn more about Japan’s past from the Museum of the Meiji Restoration

Museum of the Meiji Restoration by STA3816 Wikipedia CC
Museum of the Meiji Restoration By STA3816 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC

The Meiji restoration was a historical and impactful event for Japan. Learn more about Japan’s turbulent times and the contributions of the people of Satsuma. In this museum, exhibits are held to commemorate the ancient times and celebrate the colorful past of Japan.

Walk under the cherry blossom trees

Sakura in Kirishima Kagoshima Japan by @annintofu via Flickr CC
Sakura in Kirishima Kagoshima Japan by @annintofu via Flickr CC

Cherry blossom or sakura is another symbol popularized by Japan. Most varieties of cherry trees bloom for just a few days in spring, and Kagoshima is one of the few places where you can take picture-perfect moments alone or with a loved one. This spectacular seasonal moment is celebrated with hanami or cherry blossom viewing. If you want a moment with this fragrant sakura, make sure you check the date of first and full blooms before booking your trip.

Kagoshima Travel and Tour Packages

Searching for the best Kagoshima hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable hotels and resorts via Agoda, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Want more updates about new tourist attractions in Kagoshima, Japan? Follow #TeamOutofTown, on Facebook, and TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

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