Travel Reports by lordzubat view profile of lordzubat

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October 22, 2015 - Off the beaten path: Kagoshima to Osumi-peninsula

After my previous visit to Japan I wanted to see something new away from the tourist traps. Since I love the view and sound from the ocean and planning to visit Kagoshima, the idea of renting a car and exploring the Osumi-peninsula came in mind.

It is apparently possible to visit the area by public transport but with limited possibilities.

For anyone atempting this I would certainly recommend to stop a night or two along the way as there are a lot of things to see, other than those mentioned in this journal.

My journey started around 7 in the early morning by picking up my rental Toyota car not far from the hotel of the night. The GPS brought me all the way to the ferry terminal and was swiftly waved onboard the Sakurajima ferry that crosses the strait to the huge Sakurajima volcano.

Toyota Rental near Kagoshima-chuo station
Early morning traffic, probably not as bad as Tokyo

A bowl of soba turned into my breakfast and I stocked up on water and snacks from the onboard shop before entering volcanic land about 15 minutes later.

On the road ag... I mean, on the ferry again. Like that country music classic.
Soba noodles for breakfast.

On the eastern side of Sakurajima is the "entrance" to the eastern part of Kagoshima prefecture, as well as the road to the Kurokami Shrine Gate which became my first stop along the journey.

The shrine gate was covered in lava halfway up during the 1914 eruption. The parking lot near the gate cost a 100 yen that was to be put in a box. The parking lot itself was noticably covered in dark lava sand.

Signs pointing out the way to the torri gate near the parking lot.
Buried torii gate. Notice the black sand around it.
A view from the east at the volcano in the distance.

Onward south crossing the land of lava that had turned Sakurajima from an island to a peninsula in a previous eruption. Stopping near the city of Tarumizu where another ferry crosses the Kagoshima bay to the south of Kagoshima city.

Local area map around Tarumizu
Sakurajima volcano in the distance. Great weather. Not too warm. Blue sky covering the area.

Through Tarumizu I made a detour to visit the Sarukejo forest valley located about 7 km east of Tarumizu. The GPS suprisinlgy pointed me across a narrow unpaved road between two fields that were fortunately dry enough to cross.

Near the valley was a road station-like area with a hot spring, rest house and a shop.

Area map of the forest valley. Not sure what that red critter in the top left corner is though..
Water silently flowing past the rocks in the valley
Rest area west of the forest valley

After admiring the quiet river passing the rocks and the spiders hanging from huge webs in the trees I made my way back to Tarumizu and south for a couple of kilometers before stopping by a small beach shrine named Arahira-tenjin.

The tide was low at the moment but I couldn't help imagining the view of the area during flood.

Vermillion red torii gate standing silently at the beach walkway to the shrine covered under the trees
Better watch your steps...

I had intended to visit the nearby Kanoya rose garden but the fine weather must have filled all the parking lots so that visit had to pass this time.

Instead, I went on to a place inland called Airasan-joryo, which was a grave of some sort for the parents of emperor Jinmu. The are had gave a really mysterious and sacred impression.

I was not alone, but at least no hoards of tourists. Several trees have lost their leaves already as noticed at the parking lot.
Small river near the parking and rest house...
...had to be crossed... reach the grave area

Yet another detour for about 20 kilometers brought me back toward the ocean side until stopping at the Kamikawa-otaki falls for quite a late lunch break. High above the restaurant building was a long suspension bridge that could be reached by a series of steps and a short walk through a forest path.

A small waterfall and the series of steps leading to the suspension bridge
Only in Japan, refreshments in the "wilderness". I wonder which one to choose...
Map of the vicinity near the Otaki falls
The restaurant and the suspension bridge high above it
Path heading upward toward the suspension bridge
This looks stable enough to cross right...?

The Otaki falls could be viewed from here as well as some spiders waiting for their time of lunch break.

So worth crossing the bridge for this view
I wasn't the only admirer of the falls, or maybe this little fellow was watching something else, like flies, or me?
Shouldn't have looked down. Mommy, I can see my rental car from here...

Finally reaching the west coast of Osumi-peninsula again I headed south for a few kilometers passing through the town of Minami-Osumi until reaching Ohama-kaigan beach resort with a stretch of sand beach by the parking lot, presenting a beautiful view of the ocean and a blurred view of the eastern coast of Satsuma-sendai-peninsula.

Should have brought a bath towel...

No time for a quick dip in the pool so on the road again for yet another 15 or so kilometers passing the final (?) possibility of grocery shopping in Sata Izashiki. By that also leaving the main road for a more twisty stretch of roads for 10 kilometers of driving.

Another thing I think can only be found in Japan. A system where sellers of these mikan oranges expect you to pay by putting money in a box. No sellers were around to be seen. Good thing I had some spare 100 yen coins
The roads kept twisting up the mountains in the distance. Still it was wide enough for two cars.
My rental car hiding behind the bushes near a local shrine

After what felt like endless driving I turned right onto the final twists of Sata-Misaki Road park until finally arriving at the parking outside near cape Sata. One must be warned there are quite a lot of macaque monkeys roaming along the roadside. Keep the speed and take your time to avoid hitting one on the way to the cape.

Ocean water in the distance, finally arrived at cape Sata
Interesting tree formation

I was not the lone visitor but as the time was close to 16.00 in the afternoon I suspected more visitors might have already been here already.

And yet another way of refreshments. Could these be the most southernly located vending machines in Kyushu? (If not counting the islands of Kagoshima pref.)

To reach the cape itself a pedestrian tunnel had to be crossed. Earlier there was a fee to be paid to enter the tunnel but not anymore.

Do you dare enter the tunnel?

Past the tunnel waited an amazing adventure to palm trees and jungle-like vegetation. A simple map at the tunnel exit and some signs guided me to the Sata shrine where I bought myself a protection charm for the return journey back to Kagoshima.

We made it. The tunnel exit surely blends in with the surrounding vegetation
A warning and information sign of cape Sata
On the path down to the shrine
Sata shrine main building

As I went on the concrete paths through the area I noticed the wind had picked up a lot since leaving Kagoshima. Apparently an approaching typhoon made sure to notice me on a possible future landfall.

Concrete path toward the tip of the cape
The parking lot should be somewhere behind the hill to the right behind all the bushes
If it were not for the clouds it should be possible to see Kaimon-dake and Nagasakibana from here.
Better stay off that path
Almost there?

On the path to the southern end of the cape remnants of the late lookout building could be seen. From the remaining lookout area the nearby lighthouse could be seen. Unfortunately it could not be visited by foot so it's mysterious appearance had to be left... mysterious.

There we go. The southern end of mainland Japan, cape Sata
This would be more accurate if the approaching typhoon had not brought so many clouds
Interesting shrine approach. I wonder where all the shops selling souvenirs are located
Yikes! I believe we have not met before ms. Jomo?
One thing I miss about Japan is the frequent appearance of public restrooms. I bet this is swarming with interesting critters or life though being hidden among the bushes

Back to the car after an hour of exploring I made my way to the A-Coop store in Sata Izashiki shopping something for a light dinner and then heading back all the way to the ferry terminal in Sakurajima.

The sign marking the 31 degree latitude near cape Sata entrance

When passing the town Minami-Osumi the sun had just passed the horizon. Unfortunately the GPS took me on an unintended detour halfway up the mountains before realizing I was way out of the intended road.

However, I managed to reach the ferry and return to the rental shop returning the car without the hassle of finding a parking lot in the dark evening.

As for some more ideas of exploring, I would recommend heading further east from the Osumi-peninsula as there is said to be a rocket launch base in the area (Uchinoura Space Center).

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List of Posts:
2015/10/22 - Off the beaten path: Kagoshima to Osumi-peninsula
2015/10/21 - Kaimon-dake, reaching for heaven
2015/10/17 - Nightly adventures, night train from Izumo to Tokyo
2013/10/04 - Finding Ponyo in Tomo-no-Ura
2013/10/03 - Nara with Wakakusayama