To go or not to go. That was the question. Dark rain clouds hovered over the city, but over yonder, the sun was shining down on Sakurajima. “F*** it,” I thought to myself, “a little rain never hurt anyone.” So I went, and thankfully, the weather held out.
Sakurajima, Kagoshima’s true beauty, can be seen from almost any rooftop in the city. Standing at 1,117 meters tall, Sakurajima is one of Japan’s most active volcanos. Because of frequent minor eruptions, visitors can’t hike to the crater, but the most popular observation point known as Yunohira is the highest point one can get to without actually climbing. The photo above was taken from the Yunohira Observatory.
When I arrived at the port, the city tour bus wasn’t scheduled to come for another 45 minutes so given my impatient nature, I decided to walk to the visitor’s center. Inside there was a small museum dedicated to Sakurajima’s history and special Kagoshima treats for sale. Behind the visitor’s center towards the water and to the left is the start of the Nagisa trail. It’s a 3km paved trail that runs along the coastline and makes for a nice walk on a hot and sunny day. The refreshing breeze coming off the water kept me cool and dragonflies overhead kept me company. For a Sunday afternoon, the trail was surprisingly empty but all the more peaceful. When I reached the end of the trail, I walked across the street to take a rest in the small pavilion on the hill and caught the bus from there for the remaining journey of the city tour.
The day turned out to be rather underwhelming, but because of my food poisoning the day before, underwhelming is just what I needed. There are a lot of tourist attractions that don’t live up to the hype, but Sakurajima is not one of those places. Spending a day on the island turned out to be more relaxing as opposed to another thing checked off the to-do list.
How to get to/around Sakurajima – Ferries run every 15 minutes from the Sakurajima Ferry port in Kagoshima City, and it takes 15 minutes to get to the other side. Fee is 160 yen for a one-way ticket. Once you get to the port on the Sakurajima side, go down the escalator and around the corner to the right there is an information counter where you can buy a day pass for the Sakurajima Island View Bus for 500 yen ($5 USD). The bus runs once an hour from the ferry port to various spots around the island. In total, the bus tour takes about 1 hour, and there are 3 stops where you can get off for 5-10 minutes to take pictures then hop back on to finish the tour. Announcements are given in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.