A Day Trip To Sakurajima In Kagoshima Prefecture: What To See, Eat, Do & More | CoolJapan

Mountain with city view

Sakurajima, the symbol of Kagoshima prefecture. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

Ask any local in Kagoshima what the prefecture’s symbol is and you’ll get the same unanimous answer: Sakurajima. The most active volcano in Japan, Sakurajima is a stratovolcano, which means it's made of cinders and ash with occasional lava flows, and smoke can be seen erupting out of it constantly. It is predicted that a major eruption will take place in the next 30 years, but that still doesn’t deter the many people who take the ferry from Kagoshima’s mainland to visit this dormant beast. It is definitely a highlight for any trip to Kagoshima, and is only a 15-minute ferry away from Kagoshima’s mainland.

Hand holding ticket

The 500 yen loop bus takes you around Sakurajima’s main attractions. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

Having a car is your best bet to explore the island, but if not, getting the one-day Sakurajima Island View Bus pass is the next best option - at only 500 yen for a day pass, it covers all the best sightseeing spots in Sakurajima, and some of these are mentioned as you read further along.

Field near ocean

The quarry site that played host to Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi Sakurajima All-Night Concert. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

Portrait of a Shout: Commemorating Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi’s massive concert

Monument with faces

The ‘Portrait of a Shout’ monument. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

Although not many people alighted at this stop of the loop bus, the quarry site here was a significant place in Sakurajima’s history - 75,000 people gathered here on 21st August 2004 for the ‘Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi Sakurajima All-night Concert’, with a spectacular moment unveiling itself when the concert’s finale coincided with the day’s sunrise. In an act to immortalise the moments of 21st August 2004, the above monument, titled ‘Portrait of a Shout’, was constructed and unveiled on 19th March 2006 to 15,000 people, including the singer Nagabuchi itself. The quarry space itself remains empty and vast, and whether it can be used for private events remains to be seen.

Yunohira Observatory: Moving views of Kagoshima and Sakurajima’s peaks

Mountain Observatory with trees

The Yunohira Observatory landmark. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

Observatory overlooking a mountain

The view from Yunohira Observatory overlooking Kinko Bay. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

Getting off the loop bus at Yunohira Observatory, the highest point on Sakurajima that’s open to the general public, was one of the highlights of visiting Sakurajima. Look at different angles from the observatory, and you can spot the three peaks of Sakurajima (Kita-dake, Naka-dake and Minami-dake), rising chimneys of volcanic smoke, and also picturesque views of Kagoshima City and Kinko Bay.

Japanese ice cream and lunch

Set lunch at Minato Cafe(right) and Mikan ice cream(left) are just a few of Sakurajima’s delicacies. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

After Yunohira Observatory, we recommend taking the bus back to the port, having lunch at the port terminal, specifically at Minato Cafe, which serves up a delicious set lunch of Japanese curry and fresh vegetables, accompanied with a drink and a small dessert. If you are craving a more substantial dessert and want to sample some of Sakurajima’s homegrown products, head to Hinoshima Megumikan for their soft-serve ice cream that comes in vanilla and Sakurajima mandarin orange flavours — definitely hits the spot on a warm day of sightseeing around the island.

Nagisa Lava Trail: Learning about the effects of Sakurajima’s largest eruption

Rock formation near mountain

Rock formations at Nagisa Lava Trail formed by the 1914 eruption. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

Lastly, take a walk around the Nagisa Lava Trail, a walking trail that stretches about 3km and is easily accessible from the Sakurajima Visitor Centre. The raw landscape of rocks is a consequence of the enormous eruption that took place here back in 1914, forming a lava zone - the trail cuts through the zone and you can observe the growth of flora that has taken its place among the rocks. At the end of the trail, make your way back and head to the Nagisa foot bath where you can soak your feet after a long day of hiking, making it the perfect way to end a day visit to Sakurajima before taking the ferry back to Kagoshima and enjoying sunset views along the way.