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
Elsewhere around Sakurajima
How to get to Sakurajima
Kagoshima and Sakurajima are connected around the clock by frequent ferries. The one way ride takes 15 minute and costs 160 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.
How to get around Sakurajima
The easiest way to travel around Sakurajima is by rental car, which can be taken onto the ferry (1150 yen one way for 3-4 meter long cars; 1600 yen one way for 4-5 meter long cars). 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. Alternatively, sightseeing bus tours are available for Sakurajima (3-4 hours, around 2500 yen) or in combination with Kagoshima (6 hours, around 4000 yen).
Lastly, there are regular city buses that run infrequently from the ferry terminal along the northern coast (departures every 1-3 hours) and along the southern coast (departures every 40-90 minutes) of Sakurajima.