Category Archives: Kagoshima

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Yakushima

Yakushima is an island located off of the southern coast of Kagoshima; the farthest prefecture south in Kyushu. The island is one of the wettest places in the world and has the most precipitation in the whole of Japan; partially because of the mountainous landscape. Yakushima is one of the most enjoyable places in the world to drive and is famous for it’s winding roads twisting around the mountains on the island.

All of the above makes Yakushima undoubtedly one of the most fun places to travel by car and the island makes for a fun excursion both for a day or for a long term trip. We decided to make a day trip to Yakushima and therefore only travelled around approximately 1/4 of the island, but were able to visit two of the most fun places on the island.

Taking a ferry from Kagoshima is anywhere between a 2 hour journey to 3 hours; depending on the route that you choose to take. When you arrive at Miyanoura port, you will be able to find several rent-a-car outlets near to the port. Both Times Rent a Car and Toyota Rent a Car can be found just 5 minutes walk away from the port; alternatively you can arrange for transport to the car centre in advance. Recommended if it’s a rainy day, which is roughly 1 day in every 3 on this wonderful island.

The first port of call from Miyanoura would be a short 30 minute drive to the world famous Shiratani Unsuikyo, which has a variety of trails that could take anywhere from up to 1 hour from car park and back; or a four hour journey farther into the forest. The journey will take you on one winding road into the centre of the Shiratani and from there you will be able to reach three of Yakushima’s most famous cedars; Kugurisugi, Yayoisugi and Nidaiosugi. All beautiful in their own special way, a short walk will take you up stream to the waterfalls.

Watch out for the monkeys on the road… they’re everywhere…

monkey

The next port of call for us was a trip to Yakusugi Land, which makes for a great trip if you don’t want to hike the 10 hours required to see Yakushima’s oldest tree. The journey from Shiratani Unsuikyo to Yakusugi Land will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes, and will also go through some small towns on the way where you will be able to enjoy a quick stop for lunch.

At Yakusugi Land you can see some of the most stunning cedar trees and a further trip in land will give you a trip to Kigensugi, one of Yakushima’s giant cedars.

The journey around Yakushima

In total six hours will afford you a great journey through Yakushima; recommended for anyone who wants to experience the best that this stunning island has to offer.

Sakurajima

A tour around Kagoshima and Miyazaki

Kyushu is arguably one of Japan’s most underrated prefectures. Full of culture, history, tradition, good food and excellent roads; a trip around this beautiful part of the country is best spent at the wheel of a vehicle.

There are many flights from all over Japan into Kagoshima Airport, including a nice early 06:35 flight from Tokyo Haneda into Kagoshima. The flight takes approximately 2 hours and there is a very conveniently placed car rental store just outside the airport.

The airport itself, whilst located relatively close to the centre of Kagoshima, is not best positioned for exploring the local area. In your car you can drive (or take a boat, like we did) onto the famous Sakurajima volcano. This is a very active volcano, with eruptions almost weekly; so be careful when you decide to visit here. The most beautiful thing about Sakurajima is the fact that you can drive allt the way around it. There are beautifully crafted winding roads all the way around the mountain. Whilst you can not approach the volcano at a close distance – for very good reason – you can enjoy the scenary of the area and the beautiful lake from your car.

Sakurajima
Sakurajima

A short drive from Sakurajima should see you end up at Shiroyama Park, a very interesting tourist spot located in Kagoshima city (899-4316; telephone: 0995-46-1561). With good car parking and excellent facilities, make a morning/afternoon of it here. They have a delicious Tonkotsu Ramen shop here – delightful! There are also some interesting Japanese gardens and vegetable plants here, whilst the trees of fruit are particularly pretty.

Tonkotsu
Tonkotsu

From Kagoshima, it’s time to head into Miyazaki, the next prefecture to the East. Driving from prefecture to prefecture takes time, the best possible trip into Miyazaki takes around two hours from Kagoshima. Thankfully, the roads are comfortable and easy to drive.

Our first recommended spot on the roads is Udo-jingu (887-0101; telephone: 0987-29-1001), a gorgeous shrine located on the coast of Miyazaki.

Udojingu
Udojingu

This shrine is particularly famous for those who are not married, with many couples going here to pray for their future together. What is particularly nice is the beautiful scenery of the waves crashing against the rocks just next to the shrine.

Udojingu
Udojingu

A short drive up the coast will bring you to Aoshima in approximately 45 minutes. Aoshima is worth a visit. Despite being difficult to find a parking space – you might end up parking in a local’s garage if it’s busy, and paying 500 yen for the privilege – the walk across the sea to the island is stunning. With the traditional Japanese red gate (torii), this makes a good stop for a picture. On the island itself is an ornate shrine. From parking your car to reaching the island can take about 10 minutes – so leave enough time.

Aoshima
Aoshima

After you’ve finished at Aoshima; one option is to head into central Miyazaki. A short drive indeed, the city has a very nice shrine (Miyazaki jingu) and also many famous restaurants. The local cuisine here in Chicken Nanban, very similar to American fried chicken but much more healthy, one recommended spot for this food is “Ogura Honten”, the very first Nanban restaurant in the area (telephone: 0985-22-2296).

Chicken Nanban
Chicken Nanban