My Sakurajima trip was on a rather gloomy and dull summer day when clouds were heavily and stubbornly covering the sky. Even though it was steaming hot and awfully grey I still remember the extraordinary beauty and nature spanning around. Even bad weather could not undermine the natural, densely green and rocky landscape.
The volcano island of Sakurajima is located in Kagoshima bay. Not only is it one of the world’s most active volcanoes, but also the most stirring symbol of nature around Kagoshima prefecture. Constant but minor eruptions frequently change the city landscape, covering the air with a black ash.
Its history is quite interesting to hear and read about. In the past, Sakurajima was an island but a powerful eruption in 1914 transformed its landscape, connecting its land to Osumi Pennisula. Nowadays, despite its active yet small blasts, Sakurajima offers a great natural exploration even though hiking its highest peak has been prohibited since 1955.
The mountain molten is still easy accessible by ferries which run between Kagoshima Port and Sakurajima Ferry Terminal 24 hours a day. I was very surprised that it only takes 15 minutes to reach Sakurajima’s shore. Once you step on the volcanic land you can explore its domain by sightseeing tour buses that depart twice a day, in the morning and afternoon. You can also rent a bike or car. However, you need to take into account that driving around Sakurajima offers you a deeper exploration to discover a local, rather than tourist, character. And I would highly recommend you to do so.
During my drive, I could see that life around this active volcano has been disappearing – more and more shops or houses are being abandoned. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make the volcano area unattractive to visit. Quite to the contrary; because of that, this place is even more fascinating to scrutinize.
For nature’s finest spectacle, there are a few observation points placed three kilometers away from the volcano’s crater. Here, breathtaking eruptions can be seen. A popular one is Yunohira Observation Point, located on the western slope around 350 meters above sea level. Another is Arimura, where travelers can experience more dramatic views of past volcanic rage.
The scenery from observatory points and past lava fields aren’t the only main attractions. For those who crave to discover more, it is worth visiting the spiritual sights of Sakurajima – the Kuromaki Shrine gate. The spot enshrines a significant memory of a past eruption, one which covered the ground with up to three meters of volcanic ash and pumice, leaving only the very top of torii still visible.
Moreover, Sakurajima is a great place where one can easily relax in one of the unique magma onsen, rich with natural hot baths. Having its abundant supplies from volcanic waters, the hot springs attract day-trippers who want to unwind and observe the sea panorama whilst warmly bathing.
Sakurajima is also full of attractive and well-known foot baths. Long and free-of-charge, they stretch dozens of meters and are located close to a ferry terminal in Nagisa Park. I happily used these after a whole day of strolling around, as my feet felt numb and tired. I have to say, they are the perfect places to take a break with the decent views of the bay and Kagoshima city. Just one important point – the water is really hot. If you are not particularly keen on soaking your feet in naturally heated water, you can choose one of the benches instead to enjoy the views.
Having said that, I finished my sightseeing observing and admiring the sunset whilst my feet were joyfully boiling in volcanic hot waters.
Address: Chuoko-shinmachi, Kagoshima City,Kagoshima 890-0076
Access: 7 minutes’ walk from Kagoshima station.
Taking the “City View Bus,” get off at Kagoshima Suizokukan-mae bus stop and walk one minute.
Taking the city bus, Nangoku bus, or Kagoshima kotsu bus, get off at Suisokukan-mae and walk one minute.
Taking the tram, get off at suizokukan-guchi and walk 5 minutes.
Price: Adult – 160 Yen; Child – 80 Yen
Sakurajima Island View Tour Bus
Boarding point: Sakurajima port
Cost: Adults: 120 yen ~ 440 yen; children: 60 yen ~ 220 yen. One-Day Ticket (unlimited rides)/Adults: 500 yen; children: 250 yen.
(source: Kagoshima Kankou)
Sakurajima Yogan Nagisa Park – Footbath
Address: 1722-3 Sakurajima Yokoyamacho, Kagoshima 891-1419, Kagoshima Prefecture
Access: 9 minutes’ walk from Sakurajima port.
|Address||Sakurajima akoubarucho Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture 891-1417|
Sakurajima akoubarucho Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture 891-1417
|Opening Hours||24 hours a day|
|Price Range||adult 160yen, child 80yen, small car 880yen, normal car 1970yen|