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 since the eruption that occurred about 100 years ago.
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.
Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 Admission: 390 yen Closed: No closing days
Part of a larger tourist facility that 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 seven 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
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.
How to get around Sakurajima
The easiest way to travel around Sakurajima is by rental car, which can be taken onto the ferry (1400 yen one way for 3-4 meter long cars; 1950 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.
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 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.
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.
Featuring an on-site bar and public baths, Hotel Gran Cerezo Kagoshima offers free WiFi throughout the property. Private parking is available on site. Kagoshima Chuo Station is a 7-minute tram ride. All air-conditioned rooms are fitted with a flat-screen TV and electric kettle. Amenities include toothbrushes, pajamas, refrigerator and desk. Featuring views of Sakurajima Island, an on-site restaurant Kizuna serves Japanese and Western-style dishes prepared with local produces. The hotel has a 24-hour front desk that offers free luggage storage. The entire property is non-smoking and guests can smoke in the designated smoking area. For guests' convenience, a drinks vending machine is provided. Tenmonkan Park is a 7-minute stroll away from Hotel Gran Cerezo Kagoshima and Water Front Park is situated a 10-minute drive away.
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.
Situated 6 km from Kagoshima Municipal Science Hall, Apartment Hotel Ecott features accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking. The aparthotel provides a terrace. Museum of the Meiji Restoration is 8 km from Apartment Hotel Ecott, while Amu Plaza Kagoshima is 8 km from the property. The nearest airport is Kagoshima Airport, 36 km from the accommodation.
Only a 2-minute walk from Tenmonkandori Tram Station, Remm Kagoshima offers modern accommodations with a massage chair. Free WiFi is available at the entire property and body care services are available for extra relaxation. The air-conditioned, compact rooms feature a 32-inch LCD TV with video-on-demand, a fridge and an electric kettle. Nightwear and toothbrush sets are provided for all guests. The en suite bathroom comes with a rain shower and a hairdryer. Complimentary mineral water is provided. Kagoshima Remm Hotel is a 10-minute drive from Sengan-en Garden and a 25-minute drive away from Sakurajima Island. JR Kagoshima Train Station is a 5-minute drive away, while Tenmonkan Airport Shuttle Bus Stop is a quick 1-minute walk away. Guests can choose from various Japanese and herbal tea bags at the 24-front desk. Dry cleaning service is provided. Simple breakfast sets and coffee are served at Tully’s Coffee on the ground floor.
Located on the riverside, Kagoshima Tokyu REI Hotel is set beside Takamibashi Tram Station and a 5-minute stroll from Kagoshima-Chuo Station. It offers modern accommodation with 2 restaurants and rooms with free WiFi/wired internet. A complimentary water bottle is replenished daily. All guest rooms are non-smoking and offer both air conditioning and heating facilities. Each room is equipped with a humidifier, a Yukata robe and a trouser press. The en suite bathroom comes with a bathtub, high-tech toilet and features Shiseido bath products. An air purifier is available in all rooms. The hotel has a coin-operated launderette and drink vending machines on site. A photo studio is available on-site, while massage services are available upon request. Luggage storage can be found at the 24-hour front desk. Guests will find a designated smoking booth in the ground floor lobby. Shangri-La Restaurant serves a Japanese and Western buffet. Guests can have tea and refreshments at the Sakura Tea Lounge. Kagoshima Bus Terminal is a 4-minute walk from the property. Hotel Tokyu REI Kagoshima is a 25-minute drive from Senganen Garden and a 15-minute drive from Kagoshima City Aquarium. Kagoshima Airport is a 45-minute drive away, while the Ferry Terminal to Tanegashima Island and Yakushima Island is a 10-minute drive away. Sakurajima is a 40 minute ferry and drive ride away.
Featuring 1-star accommodation, Guesthouse Banvina is located in Kagoshima, 2.1 km from Terukuni Shrine and 2.4 km from Kagoshima City Museum of Art. This 1-star guest house offers a shared kitchen, luggage storage space and free WiFi. Shiroyama Observatory is 2.7 km from the guest house and Kagoshima Municipal Science Hall is 3 km away. The shared bathroom is equipped with a hairdryer. All units at the guest house include air conditioning and a desk. Popular points of interest near Guesthouse Banvina include Amu Plaza Kagoshima, Museum of the Meiji Restoration and St. Xavier Church. The nearest airport is Kagoshima Airport, 30 km from the accommodation.
Renovated in 2014, Hotel Gate In Kagoshima is a located a 5-minute walk from Tenmonkan Dori Tram Station and a 10-minute tram ride from JR Kagoshima Chuo Train Station.Free WiFi access is available at the entire property. Guests can enjoy complimentary coffee and read magazines at the lobby. The air-conditioned rooms feature a fridge and an electric kettle with green tea bags. Japanese Yukata robes are provided and guests can enjoy VOD channels on the flat-screen TV. The en suite bathroom comes with a hairdryer. Some rooms have a balcony and a private open-air bath. A coin-launderette is on site and photocopying services are offered at the 24-hour front desk. The on-site restaurant open from July 2017 offers Kagoshima-style cuisine for breakfast and is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A traditional breakfast is served. Kagoshima Gate In Hotel is a 5-minute drive from Kagoshima Port and Kagoshima Aquarium. The Tenmonkan shopping arcade is a 3-minute walk away.