Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – Japan chapter Kyūshū has to say about Kagoshima:
“Sunny Kagoshima has a personality to match its climate, voted Japan’s friendliest city nationwide. Its backdrop/deity is Sakurajima, a very active volcano just across the bay. Locals raise their umbrellas against the mountain’s recurrent eruptions, when fine ask coast the landscape like snow and obscures the sun like fog – mystical and captivating.
The entire prefecture even has a special ‘Ash Forecast’ as part of the weather report. Once ash starts falling you’ll understand why: it stings, coasts your teeth with grit, dirties futons and laundry and makes anyone who has just washed their car burst into tears.
Once called Satsuma, it was ruled by the Shimazu clan for a remarkable 700 years. The location helped it grow wealthy through trade, particularly with China.
Museum of the Meiji Restoration
The museum offers insights into the unique social system of education, samurai loyalty and sword techniques that made Satsuma one of Japan’s leading provinces. There are hourly audiovisual presentations about the groundbreaking visits of Satsuma students to the West and the Satsuma Rebellions told by animatronic Meiji-era reformers, including Saigō Takamori and Sakamoto Ryōma.
Kagoshima’s iconic symbol Sakurajima has been spewing an almost continuous stream of smoke and ash since 1955 and its not uncommon to have over 1000 mostly small ‘burps’ per year.
In 1914 over three billion tonnes of lava swallowed numerous island villages – over 1000 homes – and joined Sakurajima to the mainland in the southeast.
Despite its volatility Sakurajima is currently friendly enough to get fairly close. Among the volcano’s three peaks, only Minami-dake (South Peak) is active. Climbing the mountain is prohibitive, but there are several lookout points.
On the mainland, Kagoshima residents speak proudly of Sakurajima. It is said to have nanairo (seven colours) visible from across Kinkō-wan, as the light shifts throughout the day on the surface of the mountain.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD