While things took off in Europe Corona-wise, life went on as normal in Japan at the end of March and we were lucky to be able to take a 9-day holiday in Kyushu. When it came to planning our trip, I found it a bit more tricky than planning trips to the more widely known tourist spots in Japan, and read through lots of different tourist websites and magazines about Kyushu to decide on which places to go to and how long to stay in each place. In the end, I decided for this itinerary:
Fly from Haneda Airport to Kagoshima Airport (1.5 hours), stay for 3 nights
–> Shinkansen from Kagoshima for Izumi (30 minutes) and farm stay for 1 night
–> Shinkansen from Izumi to Kumamoto (30 minutes), stay for 1 night
–> Bus from Kumamoto to Nagasaki (3 hours), stay for 3 nights
–> Fly back from Nagasaki to Haneda Airport (1 hour)
(Note: If it’s your first time visiting Kyushu, I would recommend also staying in Fukuoka for 2-3 nights. We already went there last year, so I left it out this time.)
If you travel to Kagoshima for the first time, these are our three highlights, that we would recommend the most:
1) Shiroyama Park Observation Deck
We arrived in Kagoshima on a sunny afternoon and after checking in to our hotel, we made our way to the Shiroyama Park Observation Deck, that caught our eye on Google Maps. After a quick stop on the way at a local coffee shop by the lively Tenmonkan Downtown, we leisurely walked uphill in Shiroyama Park until we reached the top. It was perfect timing as sunset had just started and we were blessed with amazing views over the active Sakurajima volcano, which is always the star of the show anywhere you go in Kagoshima. Sitting on the observation deck, we felt a really peaceful atmosphere looking over Kagoshima City, how the colours of sky changed into night time and all the lights were switched on throughout the city, harbour and towers.
2) Japanese Garden Sengan-en
Our second day in Kagoshima was rainy and we decided to take our time and explore the Japanese Garden Sengan-en. To get to Sengan-en from the city centre, it’s best to drive there by car; getting there and back by infrequent busses is quite hasslesome. There’s a lot to explore in Sengan-en, starting with small museums and old factory buildings by the entrance of the garden, as this garden belonged to a family who played a key part in starting the Industrial Revolution in Japan. The garden itself is spread out, featuring cherry trees, bamboo groves and more diverse nature as you can easily spend 1-2 hours just walking around.
Towards the end, we also discovered a path leading up a mountain that you can hike up to for stunning views and really being in nature. We hiked up to the first view point, but I have to admit I felt a bit uneasy with the light rain, there being signs of emergency phone numbers along the route and no other people around. Maybe this hike is something to save for a sunny day! Sengan-en also offers a few different high-quality restaurants, a matcha cafe and just next door is an unusual Starbucks set in a beautiful old building. And all the way, walking through the garden, you have stunning views of Sakurajima!
3) Day Trips from Kagoshima City
Staying in Kagoshima City is a great base for doing day trips to the countryside and visiting islands. In our next blog article I will tell you about our day trip to Ibusuki, that included a hot sand bath, a mystery island and was eventful indeed!
Overall, we loved the tropical and laid back feeling in Kagoshima and could have easily stayed at least another two nights to visit Sakurajima Island, Yakushima Island and just cycle around the area.
Have you been to Kagoshima? What did you like the most about it?