Kagoshima Prefecture consists of the southernmost part of Kyushu and the northern half of the Nansei Shoto, the island group that stretches from Kyushu to Taiwan. The prefecture's former name is Satsuma. Satsuma played a crucial role in realizing the Meiji Restoration and during the Meiji Period. The Prefectural capital is Kagoshima City with a population of about 605,800 people.
Some of the most visited sightseeing spots in Kagoshima.
Sakurajima 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.
Kagoshima and Sakurajima are connected around the clock by frequent ferries. The one way ride takes about 15 minute. 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.
The Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine on Yakushima is a lush, green nature park containing a number of the island's ancient cedars such as the Nidaiosugi, Kugurisugi and Yayoisugi, the park's most accessible yakusugi which can be reached in a 15 minute walk. Shiratani Unsuikyo is a popular destination to see the forests without much strenuous hiking. The park offers a network of well maintained hiking trails that run along the ravine. The recommended circuits vary in length from one to five hours long, but you are free to wander around and choose your own route among the paths. The trails vary in difficulty from a historic footpath built in the Edo Period to more developed ones paved in stone and wood.
One of the main attractions of Shiratani Unsuikyo is a part of the forest that served as the inspiration for the Stugio Ghibli animated film Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke). Oga Kazuo, the lead artist for the film, spent lots of time here working on sketches for the movie's forests. The mountains of the film were further inspired by Akita Prefecture's Shirakami Sanchi Mountains.
Shiratani Unsuikyo is located 30 minutes from Miyanoura Port by car. There are infrequent buses from Miyanoura Port, taking about 35 minutes and runs every 2-3 hours.