Aptly known as the symbol of Kagoshima, Sakurajima is also one of Kagoshima Prefecture’s most famous attractions, being a 1117m volcano that is regularly active (so regular that, in fact, it can erupt up to several times a day). Visitors are naturally drawn to the volcano by the sheer fact that it can explode at any moment, but it does help that it is one of the most picturesque volcanos in the world, especially if you a nab a spot to view it from Kagoshima Bay with the sun setting idyllically in the background.
With that being said, being on the actual island that Sakurajima is located (i.e. Sakurajima Island) is a grand experience itself. Whilst it is prohibited to get too close (within 2 km) of the volcano’s craters, there are multiple observation points set up around the island where visitors are able to view the volcano.
Amongst observing the volcano from multiple perspectives, there are a ton of activities to do on the island, not restricted to or revolving around the volcano, making it an interesting day trip from Kagoshima. Being only 4km away from Kagoshima Port via ferry, visitors can spend the entire day exploring Sakurajima before hopping on a ferry back to Kagoshima. Ferries operate 24 hours between the two islands, so you can take your sweet time.
If you are heading to Kagoshima, you can check what to do in the city here: Kagoshima Japan.
How To Get To Sakurajima?
The only way to get across to the Island is via a ferry from Kagoshima Bay. The Kagoshima Port ferry terminal is a 10-minute walk from JR Kagoshima Station, or a 5-minute walk from Suizokukan-guchi tram stop.
There are regular ferries running to and from Sakurajima, and the ferry ride only takes 15 minutes. For adults, it costs 160 yen one-way, and for a child it is 80 yen.
To explore Sakurajima, you can easily rent a car (or a bike) either from Sakurajima Island itself (there is one car rental shop across from Sakurajima Port once you step out of the terminal, however, availability is pretty limited) or from Kagoshima City, which can be taken on the ferry across to Sakurajima (1,150 yen one-way for 3-4m cars).
Otherwise, you will be able to purchase a one-day pass for a loop bus which departs from Sakurajima Port (an adult day pass is 500 yen, and a child is 250 yen), taking you through stunning natural scenery to some of the popular activities offered on the island. However, there will be some points of interest which are not included in the loop bus. We’ve listed below some awesome attractions on the island, and we will indicate whether they are included on the loop bus route or not.
Where To Stay in Sakurajima?
Ryokan – Rainbow Sakurajima
This ryokan offers large comfortable rooms with free Wi-Fi access and air-conditioning. Activities such as diving and snorkeling can be enjoyed on-site or at locations nearby the ryokan.
Why guests love it: huge rooms, onsen access at night, onsen overlooks the bay, delicious all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast, value for money, close to supermarkets and convenient stores.
Hotel – Sakurajima Seaside Hotel
This hotel offers guests a hot spring bath, and comfortable rooms with seaside views.
Why guests love it: great views of the mountain and ocean, considerate staff, comfortable mats to sleep on, spacious rooms with a balcony.
Things To Do in Sakurajima #1: Tsukiyomi Shrine (not included in loop bus)
Tsukiyomi Shrine holds the title of the largest shrine located in Sakurajima, and with a reputation like that along with the fact that it is only a short walk away from the Port, you just have to make some time to visit this wondrous structure. The first thing you will notice is the big red torii gate from the street as you make your way there. There are only a few short stairwells to climb, and once you get to the top, you will be rewarded with gorgeous landscape views of the volcano. During certain seasons of the year, pretty flowers will bloom and frame the path that you take to walk through the shrine.
Interesting fact: this shrine is believed to have been built in 708 – 715, but due to the significant Taisho volcanic eruption in 1914, it was buried, and thus had to be moved to its current position.
Hours: Open 24/7
Things To Do in Sakurajima #2: Sakurajima Visitor Center (included in loop bus)
Visiting the visitor center isn’t particularly the norm when you’re exploring, but the Sakurajima Visitor Centre is more of a mini-museum offering a plethora of information that you can quickly consume before heading off to experience the island. For nature and history buffs, this is an excellent place to get your fix of detailed information on Sakurajima’s past volcanic eruptions and learn more about the unique vegetation on the island. It’s also only a short 10-minute walk away from the ferry terminal (or you can hop on the loop bus!).
There are nine features of the Visitor Center: an area to learn about the transformation of Sakurajima’s ecosystem, an area to read about the marine biology in Kinko Bay, a video corner (available in Japanese), an introduction to Sakurajima, an information corner with computers you can browse and take quizzes on Sakurajima (available in Japanese), a corner dedicated to images of the volcano erupting, a corner dedicated to the history of Sakurajima’s volcanic eruptions and growth, a small display of volcanic bomb, lapilli and cross-section models of strata, and a theatre room which offers a film introducing Sakurajima.
You can also purchase unique-to-Sakurajima souvenirs here, such as bowls of Sakurajima Yoganyaki-ware.
Address: 1722-29 yokoyama-cho, Kagoshima city
Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm, 7 days a week
Website: Visitor Center
Things To Do in Sakurajima #3: Magma Onsen (not included in loop bus)
This hot spring facility is just a five-minute walk from Sakurajima Ferry Port, and is fully equipped with a sauna, cold water bath, utase-yu back shoulder massage bath, electric pulse bath, and a jacuzzi.
Both the hot spring baths are naturally magma-heated, making for the perfect body treatment after a long day of exploring. Certain baths also overlook the sea separating Kagoshima and Sakurajima, offering the perfect kind of onsen experience people only dream of having in Japan. As with most Japanese onsens, you will be required to remove all clothing before entering.
It is believed that soaking yourself in these hot spring waters can treat body ailments such as muscle pain, joint pain, sore shoulders, body chills, fatigue, and overall invigorate your health.
Hours: Every day (excl. Wednes) 10:00am – 10:00pm, Wednesday 1:00pm – 10:00pm
Cost: Adult – 390 yen, Child – 150 yen, Handtowel – 200 yen
Things To Do in Sakurajima #4: Nagisa Lava Trail (not included in loop bus)
This is a flat 3km trail that starts from the Visitor Center and stretches all the way to Karasujima Observation Point along the seaside. Lava paths that lead to the sea can be viewed from this trail, created from the 1914 volcanic eruption of Sakurajima.
Through this path, you will be able to look out over the lush plants that have surpassed the destruction caused by the lava and come to fruition over the past 100 years on the island. If you have children, or you’re a free-spirited soul, you will enjoy this path as you can collect various kinds of seaweed and seashells along the way. With the wind blowing on your back, the sun shining down on your face, and the ocean making gentle splashes in the background, there isn’t a stroll that gets better than this.
Access: the start of this trail starts near the Sakurajima Visitor Center. Once you’re done exploring the centre, ask one of the helpful guides to point to to the beginning of the path.
Things To Do in Sakurajima #5: Yunohira Observation Point (included in loop bus)
This observation point is located at the 4th station of Mt. Kita-dake and is the highest place you can climb on the island (373m above sea-level), thus making it the closest place to the crater that is accessible to the public. From here, you will be able to observe how the past volcanic activity has left marks on the surface of Kita-dake, as well as see all the way across the island and the sea to the other side where Kagoshima Bay is.
This observation point is particularly special during sunset, as the long stretch of the blue ocean is illuminated and contrasted by the warm glow of the sun, and during the night, as you will be able to experience a lit up Kagoshima City from a different perspective.
Access: It is a 15-minute drive from the Sakurajima ferry port. You can take the loop bus to this attraction.
Hours: Observatory is open 24/7, but the shops below open from 9:00am – 5:00pm
Website: Geo Park
Things To Do in Sakurajima #6: Arimura Lava Observatory (included in loop bus)
The name of this observation point was derived from the fact that the hill on which it sits was formed from lava flow from the historically significant volcanic eruption which happened in 1914. Here, you will be able to walk a 1km path that allows you to see geographic features and vegetation which resulted from the lava flow (known as the “lava fields”. Quite often, you will be able to actually feel the volcano; stay still and silent and you might experience the soft rumbling of the crater below the surface.
There are a number of lookout points that are connected via paved walking paths, which are very gentle to walk, and also offer nice views of Sakurajima’s coastlines.
Access: It is a 17-minute drive from Sakurajima ferry port. It is accessible via the loop bus.
Hours: Open 24/7
Website: Geo Park
Things To Do in Sakurajima #7: Sea Kayak Experience (not included in loop bus)
Sakurajima sits on an island surrounded by Kagoshima Bay, so what better way to experience both views of the volcano and views of Kagoshima City than to kayak for a few hours all the way out on the waters and experiencing the island from a different perspective?
If you’re lucky, some visitor’s have been known to be kayaking just as the volcano erupts, making for the most unplanned and magical backdrop as black plumes of smoke float into the blue sky. The view is one thing, but what you learn along the way is another. A seasoned tour guide expert will take you through information about the sea creatures of the Sakurajima Island and the history of Sakurajima. There is also the opportunity to do a kayak cruise at sunset (although this cruise is shorter) to view the sun setting beyond the horizon whilst you’re floating gently out in the waters. A truly magical experience.
A few things to note about this kayak experience: anyone from the age of 11 upwards can participate in this activity. The day tour will go for 2-3 hours, and the sunset cruise will go for 1-2 hours. You have to book this activity at least two days in advance, and there are only two sessions per day for the day cruise, one at 9:00am and one at 1:00pm. The sunset cruise is listed as a separate experience, and there is only one a day – 5:00pm. The cost for one person is 8,640 yen for the day cruise, and 7,560 yen for the sunset cruise.
Access: Once you exit the Sakurajima Ferry Terminal, turn right. When you reach an intersection with a signal, it is located diagonally right.
Make a reservation below:
Things To Do in Sakurajima #8: Nagisa Foot Baths (ashyu)
After walking and hiking (or possibly pushing on the car pedals) all day around, your feet probably need a bit of a break, and we’ve got the perfect solution for you. Eventually, you’re probably going to end back at Sakurajima Port, either because the visitor’s route around the island will take you back there, or you’re almost ready to head back to the mainland. Before you do, stop by the Nagisa Park Foot Spa. It is only a five-minute walk from Sakurajima Port, and it’s almost considered one of the biggest foot baths in Japan.
The water is derived from a natural hot spring from 1,000 meters below the surface of the ground, and the foot bath is a staggering 100m long, so there’s plenty of space for you and your friends and the neighboring Japanese family to enjoy the spa. You can purchase towels from the Visitor Center or Ryokan Rainbow Sakurajima to wipe yourself down afterwards. Best thing about this foot spa is that it is completely FREE! On top of that, precious views of the gentle, rolling waves in the ocean and the distant, looming mountains will transport you to a time and place you never want to leave.
Access: It is a 5-minute walk from the Sakurajima ferry port, just opposite Sakurajima Visitors Centre, and next to the Nagisa Lava Trail.
Hours: 9:00am – Sunset
Website: Geo Park
Kagoshima – A Day Trip You Won’t Forget!
How many times have you been able to say you were actually in the presence of an active volcano? Chances are, there have been zero other times. Sakurajima will make for a unique day of exploration and you get the perfect balance of walking, bussing, possibly paddling, and all types of spas. What are you waiting for?
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