In Kagoshima City, visit Mt.Shiroyama, the last battlefield of the Meiji Restoration. The 107m high mountaintop has an observatory which offers visitors an overview of the city and Sakurajima in the distance. “Shiroyama” literally means castle mountain, and the park is famous for being the place where local hero Saigo Takamori made his last stand during the Satsuma Rebellion.
Then, drop by Sengan-en Garden nearby which was constructed by a local lord as a guest house of the Kagoshima Castle. Outside the garden grounds is the Shoko Shuseikan Museum which has artifacts which include former factory machinery that were used to support the modernization efforts of Kagoshima Prefecture via the production of cannon, boat, and glassware production.
Refresh yourself from the sightseeing by heading to Ibusuki for a steam sand bath. Then head back to Kagoshima city and the centrally located gourmet street, a lively alley with many small stalls serving local soul food, from ramen to yakitori and also chicken sashimi.
Take a ferry to Yakushima island, south of Kagoshima, which was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Most of the island consists of mountains and is known as the “alps on the ocean”. It is covered with a cedar forest that boasts some of the world’s oldest trees, that are speculated to be as old as over 7,000 years.
One accessible place to view these mystical trees is at Yakusugi Land, a nature park with hiking courses of various levels, lasting from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours. Spend the night here and take in the magical atmosphere.
Back in Kagoshima, head to Kirishima Onsen, an active volcanic mountain range that is a popular hiking spot with volcanic lakes and hot springs. The are is also considered holy for its mention in ancient Japanese mythology.
After hiking around the trails, check in to an onsen hotel and take a dip in the sulfuric hot spring waters. The resort area has a variety of hot springs in ryokans or public baths to choose from. Some of the hot spring facilities here offer mud baths. The mud is slightly radioactive, coming from a hot spring source, and is applied to the skin before washing it off in a pool.
Tuck into delicious local delights from kurobuta black pork and black haired wagyu beef, washed down with a cold glass of Kagoshima shochu.