"Kagoshima - in the Shadow of Sakuajima" Kagoshima-ken by MikeAtSea
Kagoshima-ken Travel Guide: 74 reviews and 146 photos
With one of the most spectacular settings Kagoshima looks out across the broad sweep of a bay to the brooding silhouette of Sakuajima, an active volcano that still showers the city today at times with a gray blanket of ash.
The city, home to almost 600.000 inhabitants, which has subtropical influence used to be the former capital of Edo and always had a certain degree of independence. It was the center of the feudal domain of Satsuma, Kagoshima’s Shimazu Clan that ruled the Southern Islands of Okinawa and hence incorporated much of the culture of China and South East Asia to Kagoshima. This is one of the reasons why one finds sweet potatoes here rather then rice and the preference for pork dishes. Shochu made from sweet potatoes is the favorite liquor here and is believed to have arrived from China or Korea. And if you want to try Shochu there should be no shortage here, since Kagoshima has more then 120 distilleries all over the city.
Highlights of the city include the Iso Gardens, where a number of subtropical plants grow alongside of plum trees and bamboo groves.
The City Aquarium on an artificial island in the harbor showcases marine life from local waters as well as from the reefs of the Nansai Islands southwest of the Kyushu Island, where Kagoshima is located on.
Kagoshima was also the first city in Japan that came into contact with Christianity. In 1549 the Spanish missionary Francis Xavier arrived and resemblance to this is the 20th century St. Xavier’s Church.
Another point of interest is the Art Museum with a large display of Satsuma ceramics.
A dramatic eruption of Kagoshima’s house volcano the Sakuajima deposited more then three billion tons of lava in the narrow strait separating the mountain from the peninsula, and hence joining the island to the mainland. The rich soil produces the world’s largest radishes, the biggest measuring up to 1.5 meters.
Close to Kagoshima is the town of Chiran. Unfamous site as a training ground for Kamikaze Pilots during World War 2 it used to be the 102 castle-towns built to protect the feudal lords of Satsuma. Six samurai houses and gardens can be visited here in Samurai Lane. On the hill above the town 1026 cherry trees have been planted to be dedicated to the young men that flew from here to their fatal missions.
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