Sakurajima (桜島) is one of Japan's most active volcanoes and the symbol of Kagoshima. The volcano smokes constantly, and minor eruptions often take place multiple times per day. Located in the middle of Kagoshima Bay, Sakurajima is the area's most prominent geographic feature, having an elevation of 1117 meters and a circumference of about 50 kilometers.
Before a powerful eruption in 1914, Sakurajima used to be an island in the bay, but the massive lava flow from that eruption created the volcano's current land connection to the Osumi Peninsula in the east. For the majority of travelers, however, the volcano is still most easily accessed by the ferries that run the 3.5 kilometers between Kagoshima Port and the Sakurajima Ferry Terminal.
Sakurajima has three main peaks: Kita-dake ("north peak", 1117 meters), Naka-dake ("middle peak" 1060 meters) and Minami-dake ("southern peak", 1040 meters). The Minami-dake peak is currently the most active, with many eruptions taking place from the Showa Crater on the peak's eastern slope. It is prohibited to approach within two kilometers of the volcano's craters, but there are many observation points around Sakurajima where eruptions can be observed from about three kilometers away.
Travelers visiting Sakurajima can find many attractions just around the ferry terminal, including an onsen, foot baths, short hiking trails and an information center. Those who would like to further explore the volcano should travel by rental car, which can be taken across the water from Kagoshima by the ferries. Sightseeing buses, regular buses and rental bicycles are other possible methods of travel.
Around the ferry terminal
Nagisa Lava Trail
About three kilometers of walking trails extend along the water beside the Sakurajima Ferry Terminal. The trail cuts through a lava zone created by the giant eruption of 1914. Travelers can observe the growth of grasses and short plants that has taken place in the century since the eruption.
Nagisa Park Foot Bath
These pleasant foot baths are free of charge and are a great place to take a break and observe the volcano. The baths are very long and stretch for dozens of meters. From the baths there are also decent views onto the bay and across the water to Kagoshima City.
Sakurajima Visitor Center
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 Admission: Free Closed: No closing days
This small visitor center is free of charge and has models, pictures, videos and information boards about Sakurajima. Much of the information is also provided in English.
Daytime hours: 10:00 to 22:00 Daytime admission: 390 yen Closed: No closing days
Part of a larger tourist facility, which includes a hotel, shops and restaurants, the Magma Onsen has hot spring baths that are open to day trippers. The baths have large windows that look out across the water to Kagoshima City, however, on the whole, they are rather mediocre.
This unique park is located on a hill about a 15 minute walk from the ferry terminal. The park takes its name from the half a dozen life-size dinosaur statues that are scattered around its grounds. The park is good for travelers with kids as it has jungle gym equipment. The park's cherry trees make it a particularly attractive destination in early spring when the flowers are in bloom.
Elsewhere around Sakurajima
Yunohira Observation Point
Of Sakurajima's main observation points, the Yunohira Observation Point is the closest to the ferry terminal. It is also the closest to Sakurajima's crater, about 2.5 kilometers away, and has the highest elevation at 350 meters. It is located along the volcano's western slope.
Kurokami Shrine Gate
Travelers can get a sense of the size of the 1914 eruption by visiting the Kurokami Shrine Gate. The same eruption that caused the land connection of Sakurajima to the Osumi Peninsula covered the shrine's torii gate in volcanic ash, leaving only the very top still visible above ground.
Kurokami Observation Point
The Kurokami Observation Point is located a few hundred meters from the Kurokami Shrine Gate close to the volcano's eastern coast. Just alongside the main road, the observation point has a slightly raised observation platform in front of a long flat terrain before the volcano rises. From this area travelers can get good views of the Showa Crater and its frequent small eruptions.
Arimura Observation Point
The Arimura Observation Point gives a view onto Sakurajima's craters from a slight elevation of about 75 meters. The observation area has a number of lookout points that are connected by paved walking paths. The walking paths make for a nice little hike. There are also nice views of Sakurajima's coastline.
Getting there and around
How to get to Sakurajima
Central Kagoshima and Sakurajima are connected around the clock by frequent ferries. The one way ride takes 15 minute and costs 200 yen. The ferry terminal is a ten minute walk from JR Kagoshima Station or a five minute walk from the Suizokukan-guchi tram stop, and is also served by the City View Buses.
Cars can be taken onto the Sakurajima ferry and cost 1400 yen one way for 3-4 meter long cars or 1950 yen one way for 4-5 meter long cars. Those trying to avoid the ferry will need to make a 90 minute detour to reach the southeastern end of the Sakurajima peninsula via land (slightly faster if using the expressway).
How to get around Sakurajima
By far the easiest way to travel around Sakurajima is by rental car. Driving once around the coast of Sakurajima takes about an hour. Car rental outlets can be found in the city center and at Kagoshima Airport.
It is also possible to travel around Sakurajima by public transportation. There is a loop bus for tourists, the Sakurajima Island View Bus, that operates hourly from the ferry terminal to the Yunohira observation point and back. The fare depends on the distance traveled or is 500 yen for a 1-day pass.
Lastly, there are regular city buses that run roughly hourly from the ferry terminal along the northern coast and along the western coast of Sakurajima; however, they do not make the entire loop around the peninsula. To access the Kurokami area, a transfer of buses is required along the way, with connections only every 2-3 hours.
Featuring an open-air natural hot spring bath overlooking Sakurajima Volcano and the sea, SHIROYAMA HOTEL kagoshima offers a spa centre, 7 dining options and a concierge. Rooms have free wired internet. Some rooms come with a view of Sakurajima volcano and Kinko-wan Bay. All are equipped with an LCD TV with satellite channels, a fridge and a safe. The spa at SHIROYAMA HOTEL kagoshima offers a mist sauna, a flower bath and massage treatments. Guests can also enjoy karaoke and shopping. Restaurant Le Ciel offers panoramic city views and Western food, while other restaurants serve Japanese and Chinese specialities. Castle Park houses its own bakery and brewery. A free bus circulates between SHIROYAMA HOTEL kagoshima, JR Kagoshima Chuo Station and downtown area Tenmonkan, both a 10-minute drive away.
Gracias is a self-catering accommodation located in Kagoshima, just a 5-minute walk from the ferry terminals offering high speed boats and ferries to Yakushima and Sakurajima. Air-conditioned apartments are fitted with a flat-screen TV, a balcony and a full kitchen with a microwave, a refrigerator and a stovetop. Private bathrooms are equipped with a hairdryer, a bath and slippers. Each apartment also comes with a view of Sakurajima. Gracias Apartment is within a 2-minute walk from the nearest convenience store, a cafe and a restaurant, while JR Kagoshima Station is a 15-minute walk away. Kagoshimachuo Station is a 20-minute tram ride away, while Kagoshima Airport is located 28 km away. No meals are served on site.
Featuring 4-star accommodation, Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kagoshima Tenmonkan is situated in Kagoshima, 1.8 km from Kagoshima Chuo Station and 2 km from Kagoshima Station. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi throughout the property. Minato Odori Park is 1.1 km away and Kagoshima City Museum of Art is less than 1 km from the hotel. The hotel will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms with a desk, a kettle, a fridge, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. At Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kagoshima Tenmonkan the rooms include bed linen and towels. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a buffet or a continental breakfast. Popular points of interest near Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kagoshima Tenmonkan include Museum of the Meiji Restoration, St. Xavier Church and Terukuni Shrine. The nearest airport is Kagoshima Airport, 38 km from the hotel.
Opened in 2012, Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Kagoshima is just a 2-minute walk from JR Kagoshima-Chuo Train Station and features a French restaurant and massage services. Its modern rooms impress with a 4-star decor and a spacious shower room with a bathtub. Free WiFi is available throughout the premises. Polished wood panelling, soft lights and plush carpets await guests in the rooms at Kagoshima Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel. Each room has an LCD TV with channels including CNN and China Central Television (CCTV), a fridge and an electric kettle with green tea, and the bathing area and toilet are separated for improved hygiene. Some rooms have views of Sakurajima volcano. The hotel is a 5-minute drive from the Ishin Furusato-kan Museum, which focuses on the Meiji Restoration. Sengan-en Japanese Garden is 6 km away. A free-use internet PC can be found at the lobby, and the 24-hour front desk offers laptops to guests at a surcharge. A coin launderette is available for use. A Japanese/Western breakfast is served for an extra fee at Kuwahara Restaurant, where French course lunches and dinners can also be enjoyed.
Situated 9.1 km from Kagoshima Chuo Station, Apartment Hotel Ecott features accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking. Some units are fitted with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, washing machine and a kettle, as well as a kitchen. A terrace is available for guests to use at the aparthotel. Kagoshima Station is 10 km from Apartment Hotel Ecott, while Kagoshima Municipal Science Hall is 6.8 km from the property. The nearest airport is Kagoshima Airport, 49 km from the accommodation.
Featuring 1-star accommodation, Shiroyama Guesthouse Banvina is located in Kagoshima, 1.2 km from Kagoshima Chuo Station and 3.1 km from Kagoshima Station. The 1-star guest house has air-conditioned rooms with a shared bathroom and free WiFi. Private parking is available on site. All units include a safety deposit box. Popular points of interest near the guest house include Terukuni Shrine, St. Xavier Church and Shiroyama Observatory. The nearest airport is Kagoshima Airport, 37 km from Shiroyama Guesthouse Banvina.
Directly connected to JR Kagoshima Chuo Shinkansen (bullet train) Station, JR Kyushu Hotel Kagoshima offers modern guest rooms with free Wi-Fi in 2 separate towers. Local Kagoshima cuisine can be savoured at the on-site restaurant. All rooms at JR Kyushu Hotel feature an LCD TV, air conditioning, air purifier and a small fridge. A hairdryer and toiletries are included in the en suite bathroom. Free luggage storage services are offered at the front desk. In-room massages and dry-cleanings can be arranged. There are also coin laundrettes and free-use internet PCs on site. Ekitei Satsuma restaurant serves traditional Kagoshima specialties, as well as other Japanese dishes. A hearty breakfast buffet is also offered there. Guests can reach Sakurajima in 30 minutes by bus and ferry. The hotel is a 7-minute drive from Terukuni Shrine, and a 13-minute drive from Senganen Garden. Kagoshima Aquarium is a 6-minute drive away. Kagoshima Airport is a 40-minute drive away.
Featuring 1-star accommodation, Guesthouse Banvina is located in Kagoshima, 500 metres from Kagoshima Chuo Station and 3.9 km from Kagoshima Station. With a shared lounge, the 1-star guest house has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a shared bathroom. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen, and luggage storage for guests. At the guest house, every room is equipped with a desk. All units include bed linen. Popular points of interest near Guesthouse Banvina include Museum of the Meiji Restoration, St. Xavier Church and Nagashima Museum. The nearest airport is Kagoshima Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
Dormy Inn Kagoshima offers modern accommodations with free wired internet access. Indoor/outdoor hot-spring baths are available for freshening up after a long day and massages can be requested for an extra cost. JR Kagoshima Chuo Train Station is a 5-minute taxi rde away. The air-conditioned rooms feature carpeted floors, a fridge and an electric kettle with green tea bags. Guests can enjoy video-on-demand movies on the flat-screen TV and wear the provided sleepwear. The en suite bathroom comes with a hairdryer and slippers. Kagoshima Dormy Inn is a 5-minute drive from Saigo Cave and Tsurumaru Castle Ruins. Sengan Park is a 20-minute drive away. You can relax in the sauna rooms and use the coin-launderette on-site. Dry cleaning services are offered as well. English speaking staff can assist guests at the 24-hour front desk. A breakfast buffet is served at the dining room and free late-night noodles are served between 21:30 and 23:00.
Just steps away from Asahidori Tram Stop, Richmond Hotel Kagoshima Kinseicho features comfortable guestrooms, free property-wide Wi-Fi and a breakfast. JR Kagoshima Chuo Shinkansen (bullet train) Station is a 10-minute drive or a tram ride away. Each room comes with a flat-screen TV, a fridge and an air-purifier/humidifier. An electric kettle with tea bags is also provided. The en suite bathroom comes with a bath tub and free toiletries. Kagoshima Kinseicho Richmond Hotel provides coin launderette, drinks vending machines and a free-use microwave. Laptops and a printer can be rented from the 24-hour front desk. Free luggage storage services are offered, while in-room massages can be arranged at an additional charge. The hotel is an 8-minute walk to the lively Temmonkan-dori area and a 12-minute walk to Kagoshima Aquarium. Kagoshima Airport is a 50-minute bus ride away. Ineya restaurant on the ground floor serves a hearty breakfast where guests can also choose one main dish.