Kagoshima - Port Guide
Where is the ship/how to get to the sights?
Winter Oct-Feb cold 5-12 degrees Celsius, with snow possible Nov-Feb. Spring: Mar-May 10-18 degrees. Summer: 15-25 degrees. Rain possible year round.
Sights & Sites
- Terukuni Shrine – Shinto Shrine in the centre of town on map. Free to go in. Locals use this shrine as an active praying place so be respectful, but tourists are welcome to go in and look around. It is very interesting and free.
- Chuo Park – Local park with sculptures and green area.
- Modern Literature Museum – museum on Japanese literature. Interesting place. Approximately $5.
- Marchen Fairytale Museum – good place to take children. Japanese fairy tales museum, with interactive exhibits. Very good for families.
- You can take the ferry over to the volcanic island Sakurajima and walk around it. It’s very nice to visit, is good to get out into nature.
- Sakurajima island – You can take the local ferry to Sakurajima, the volcano inhabited island right across the bay from the city. You can use either a one way ticket (190 yen each way, about $1.90) on the bus or tram trip is 190 yen, or you can get a one day pass for the whole city if you plan to go around a lot it is worth it (600 yen, around $6) for whole city for whole day). You can see the hot springs, which are stunning and lovely to walk around. If you walk up the hill form here, you can enjoy the dinosaur play park, which is fun for kids of all ages. The island is also very romantic. My friends Liz and Matt got engaged here, with Matt proposing to Liz doing a yoga pose by the side of the active volcano.
- Tsurumaru Castle ruins – ruins of the walls of the city, can see from the street and walk around. Good way to see what the old city is like.
- Onsens – Local bathhouses, where locals and tourists alike can steam and cleanse their troubles away for about $8. There are several located through the city and they are noted on the tourist map.
The city has a lot of shops around in it. It isn’t an overly touristy city, so I didn’t see any specific area with souvenir shops, but the main mall has a lot of stores to choose from and includes a Daiso, which has cheap fun Japanese things to take home in it. There are some souvenirs right by the ship too.
If you only have two hours
You can take the bus into town in 15 minutes if you get there when it is leaving soon, you will have time to have a little look around town. If the bus isn’t leaving for a while (as it leaves every 15 minutes, but then takes almost 30 to get there), then stick around the port. There are locals dressing up ship visitors in kimonos whenever there is a ship in port. This is free and is great for taking photos and having fun. There is also Wi-Fi in the terminal so easy to have fun here with only a little time still.
What is it known for?
The Tsurumaru Castle was the epicenter of the old city, and the ruins can be seen today. The city was built around this so you can see the historic sites following around it. There are hot springs outside the city on the island of Sakurajima. This is a lovely place to walk around and enjoy nature, while still being very close to the city.
Food & Drink
There are lots of food places in the mall. You can find very good, cheap noodle restaurants. I paid approximately $6 for a large bowl of delicious pork ramen on top.
All coffee shops and larger restaurants and bars have decent free Wi-Fi in them.
There are many ATMs throughout the city, at least one on every block. Banks will exchange money.
Karen’s Top Tip
Take a map from the local tourist info staff that will be manning a table where you get off the shuttle bus. They can point out any places of interest you’d like to go to on the city map they can give you (PDF below) and send you in the right direction.
My experience here
I took the shuttle bus in from the ship. Upon getting off it, I spoke to the very friendly local tourist information people there and asked them what they’d recommend doing in the city in the 4 hours I had, and asked how easy it was to get around the historic district. They showed me where the main historic sites were on the map and said it is easy to walk around them. I stopped for Wi-Fi at a small local restaurant on the way there, and got a few things done.
Then we walked through the main mall, which is on the way to the historic sites. There was an exhibition about milk on. This consisted of people wearing black and white spotted aprons giving away glasses of milk to taste, and stationary with cows on, and music was playing around with a man making announcements, who seemed to be extolling the virtues of cow milk. The epicenter was a Friesian mother and calf standing on plastic grass. You could touch the cows and have your photos taken with them, which of course we did. I thought it was a lovely, fun, interactive way to get children more interested in drinking milk. Then we walked around the historic district. We went to the Terukuni Shrine and watched families pray, looked at Chuo Park, which is a nice green area in the city centre to relax in, and walked around the ruins of Tsurumaru Castle and got a feel of the ancient nature of the city and how it worked. There were some locals dressed up in traditional Japanese costumes who were there, for free, to take photos with the tourists from the ship. It was really nice, and they were very friendly and so we took photos with them. I then went into the Modern Literature Museum to have a look, but didn’t have time to explore it properly. It seemed to be a good authority and celebration on Japanese and foreign books that have made an impact in the 20th and 21st century. I looked in the Marchen Fairytale museum, which is a good place to bring children from Japan or other countries as it celebrates famous Japanese fairytales and also others from around the globe. My final stop was eating some very tasty ramen in a tiny ramen house in the mall. The menu was simple; noodles with pork. Done. So we happily tucked into that with a cold local beer.
My Most Memorable Moment
Terukuni Shrine had my favourite part of my day. We walked in and saw that there were people praying in the top section of the shrine, so we kept to the lower area by the entrance. There were several families walking around, all dressed up in their Sunday best (it was also Sunday), and the part that stole my heart were the children. They were dressed up, with the boys in tiny little full suits with ties and jackets, and the little girls delightful in bright pink and red foofy dresses of taffeta. There was a special celebration of girls of aged 3 and 7 happening, so they were all dressed up and there to pray then take photos with their families. The families were welcoming and proud of their little ones and allowed us to take photos of them. The little girls were so proud and cute and happy in their finery and it was all just a delight to be part of.
Nick and I adventuring all over Japan trying as many delicious Japanese dishes as possible.