Kagoshima Museums

Kagoshima City & Kagoshima Prefecture Museums 鹿児島の博物館

Kagoshima city and Kagoshima Prefecture in south east Kyushu have some excellent museums and art galleries. This cultural richness reflects Kagoshima's active involvement as Satsuma province during the latter stages of the Edo Period of Japanese history when an alliance of Satsuma and Choshu (present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture) helped to overthrow the Tokugawa regime. Kagoshima also had a role in the industrialization, westernization and commercialization of the early Meiji years.

Later Kagoshima was central to the revolt of Saigo Takamori, who found himself in reluctant armed opposition to the Meiji rulers as head of an army of disaffected and disillusioned samurai in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877.

Chiran Peace Museum For Kamikaze Pilots Museum, Kagoshima.
Statue of a Kamikaze Pilot, Chiran Peace Museum For Kamikaze Pilots, Kagoshima

Chiran Peace Museum For Kamikaze Pilots

The Chiran Peace Museum For Kamikaze Pilots in Chiran, Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Kyushu is a thought-provoking, and to many, a controversial museum dedicated to the lives and deaths of 1,036 suicide pilots or kamikaze (more commonly known as tokkoh-tai-in 特攻隊員 in Japanese), who sacrificed themselves in the name of the Japanese emperor in the latter stages of World War II.

Chiran Peace Museum For Kamikaze Pilots Museum, Chiran, Kagoshima.
Chiran Peace Museum For Kamikaze Pilots, Kagoshima
Kagoshima Aquarium with Sakurajima in the background, Kyushu, Japan.
Kagoshima Aquarium with Sakurajima in the background, Kyushu

Kagoshima City Aquarium

Kagoshima City Aquarium is located on the seafront near the Sakurajima Ferry Terminal and the new Dolphin Port development in Kagoshima city. Kagoshima Aquarium (Io World Kagoshima Suizokukan) opened in 1997. The seven floors of Kagoshima Aquarium feature displays mostly concerned with local marine life, including the island chains that extend south from Kagoshima including Yakushima, Tanegashima and Yoron Island. The biggest display is the Kuroshio Tank, showing sea creatures from the Kuroshio Current, which flows past Kyushu and includes rays and a whale shark.

The Foreigners Mansion, Ijinkan, Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan.
The Foreigners Mansion, Ijinkan, Kagoshima, Kyushu

The Foreigners Mansion, Ijinkan

The Kyu-Kagoshima Bosekisho Gishikan (Old Kagoshima Spinning Engineers House) in Kagoshima is, like its many counterparts in other Japanese towns such as the foreigners' houses in Kobe, simply known as Ijinkan, Foreigners Residence. The Ijinkan was constructed at the end of the Edo Period in 1866 to house seven British engineers. Following the military engagement between the Royal Navy and the Satsuma shore batteries in 1863, known rather grandiosely as the Anglo Satsuma War, Satsuma (present-day Kagoshima Prefecture) and Britain enjoyed a close relationship. As part of their drive to modernize their domain, a group of students were sent to study in England, even though this was still illegal according to shogunate law.

Kagoshima Museum of Modern Literature, Kyushu, Japan.
Kagoshima Museum of Modern Literature, Kyushu

Kagoshima Museum of Modern Literature & Merchen Museum

The Kagoshima Museum of Modern Literature & Merchen Museum is a museum dedicated to Japanese authors of the modern period (1868-) who have a connection with Kagoshima. Manuscripts and personal effects of 28 authors are on display, the most famous of which are: Kaionji Chogoro, (1901-1977) born in Kagoshima, achieved success with his writing at an early age. In the postwar period he wrote epic historical novels, many of which became TV shows and movies. The 1990 movie Ten to Chi to (Heaven & Earth), based on his novel of the same name, was the most popular domestic movie in Japan in 1990. He also wrote many historical biographies, but what he considered his greatest work, a biography of Saigo Takamori, remained incomplete at his death.

Museum of the Meiji Restoration

The Museum of the Meiji Restoration (Ishin Furosato Kan) is dedicated to Kagoshima's part in the tumultuous events of the 1860's and 1870's and outlines the careers of such local heroes as Saigo Takamori (1828-1877) and Okubo Toshimichi (1830-1878) using dioramas and video displays.


The Reimeikan at the foot of Mt. Shiroyama has exhibits on the history, culture and folklore of Kagoshima Prefecture from pre-historical to contemporary times. The modern Reimeikan opened in 1988 on the former site of Kagoshima Castle (Tsurumaru), of which only the impressive stone walls and moats remain. The Reimeikan grounds contain a number of cherry trees.

Sengan-en Garden & Shoko Shuseikan Museum

Sengan-en Garden (Iso-teien) is located about 1.5km north of the city center and was first laid out as a strolling garden in 1658 by the 19th Shimazu daimyo (feudal lord). Sengan-en incorporates the Shimazu-ke villa (Iso Residence) - a rural retreat for the Shimazu lord and his family. After the abolition of the feudal system in the 1870's the Shimazu family continued to live in this luxurious villa, which was rebuilt for their use in the mid-1880s. The Sengan-en Garden has spectacular "borrowed" views of Sakurajima and includes ponds, running streams, bamboo and cherry blossoms in season. Included in the price of admission to Sengan-en is entry to the interesting Shoko Shuseikan Museum, with a vast collection of Shimazu clan family heirlooms including scrolls, weapons, ceramics, dolls and tools.

Kagoshima Prefectural Museum

The Kagoshima Prefectural Museum has exhibits on the geography, geology and natural environment of Kagoshima Prefecture. Though there is precious little English, the exhibits of stuffed animals and birds, fish and small reptiles in tanks, dinosaur skeletons, fossils, a scale model of the Sakurajima volcano and rocks from the area are mostly self-explanatory. The Kagoshima Prefectural Museum has three floors of exhibits with the 4th floor on the annex having a planetarium.

Ishibashi Memorial Park

Towards the end of the Edo Period the Lord of Satsuma brought mason and bridge builder Iwanaga Sangoro from Higo, now Kumamoto Prefecture, to build five stone bridges, known as the Gosekkyo, across the Kotsuki River in Kagoshima. Three of these stone bridges have now been relocated to Ishibashi Memorial Park.

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