Japan City Guides: Sakurajima
If you're going to Kagoshima...
Sakurajima is a nice place to spend a few hours if you are planning a trip to Kagoshima. This active volcano has a great history and some interesting places to explore.
The town of Sakurajima is also known for its radish, which is the largest in the world, and its mandarin, the smallest in the world. There is an omiyage (gift) shop where you can purchase an assortment of products made from these two famous crops.
The first recorded eruption of Sakurajima was in 708 and the volcano has been in almost constant activity since then.
One of the most interesting facts about Sakurajima is that it was itself an island until 1914, when lava flows from a large eruption that year spread and hardened, connecting the island to Osumi Peninsula.
Since 1955, the volcano has erupted 100-200 times a year. In 1994, there were 126 eruptions and on May 23, 1995 an explosive eruption sent ash 8,200 feet above the summit crater.
Ash falls up to 143 times per year, depositing an average of 100mm annually.
People can be seen walking around the town, or sometimes even in Kagoshima City, with umbrellas to protect their clothes and skin from falling ash.
Sakurajima Visitor Center
There are small shrines and several lava formations to explore.
Kurokami Buried Gate
Sakurajima volcano in Kagoshima Prefecture moments before it erupts
Sakurajima volcano moments after it erupts sending ash into the air
Lava Beach Esplanade
Yunohira Observatory and Arimura Lava Observatory
It is undoubtedly the best scenic point on the island. Arimura Lava Observatory also offers nice views of the island, although not quite as dramatic.
Fire Island Festival (Hinoshima)
A must visit is Furusato Kanko Hotel, which houses a beautiful outdoor onsen (natural spa), located on the ocean front, with a large, lovely shrine.
This onsen is unusual in that it is mixed gender and the hotel provides customers with a yukata (robe) that can be worn inside the water to cover the usual (single sex only) nakedness. It is a highly recommended place to visit for a relaxing slice of Japanese culture.
The onsen is closed on Thursdays, but can be visited every other day from 6am to 10pm. Admission is 1,050 Yen (c.US$11.75). You can reach the hotel by the free Furusato Kanko Hotel shuttle bus, which leaves the Sakurajima Ferry Terminal every 30 minutes between 8:45am and 5pm.
How to get to Sakurajima
From the Kagoshima ferry terminal in Kagoshima City, Sakurajima is a 15 minute ferry ride across Kagoshima Bay. The ferry port is 10 minutes walk from JR Kagoshima Station. The boats leave about four times an hour, slowing down to twice an hour at 10:00 pm. There are Shinkansen bullet trains to Kagoshima from Fukuoka.
Japan articles by Stephanie Plewes
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