At the southern tip of the Japanese mainland and the island of Kyushu, the port of Kagoshima is home to one of the most startling sights in the country: a towering volcano that erupts daily. Sakurajima dominates the city skyline, and chances are you’ll get to see it in action. On our last day on the Japanese mainland, we boarded a ferry and made the intrepid journey to the volcanic island. As it turned out, we wouldn’t just dodge volcanic ash, we would have to escape the jaws of a few titans from the Cretaceous era.

The Ride to Sakurajima

The priority was visiting Sakurajima, so after a quick breakfast at our hotel, we made straight for the docks and got on board the ferry. The ferries leave regularly throughout the day and are fairly inexpensive. From the deck of the ship the volcano looms larger and larger like a giant rising from the ocean, and the clouds of ash that wreath the top seem ominously close. After less than twenty minutes aboard, we were standing on the island.

The small puff of smoke rising from the top of Sakurajima are actually volcanic ash.
The small puff of smoke rising from the top of Sakurajima is actually volcanic ash.

If you’re looking to get a better view of the peak, you can board one of the local buses that winds through the island. For safety reasons, you can’t get very close to the crater. However, from the buses last stop you can get an unhindered view of the eruptions. The last major eruption was in 2017, and, as I gazed nervously at the nearby emergency shelter, I hoped the next one was far away. After 20 minutes, I happily got on the bus and sped back down the hill.

For safety reasons, tourists can not visit the crater of Sakurajima, but you can get part of the way there.
For safety reasons, tourists can not visit the crater of Sakurajima, but you can get part of the way there.

Back in Town

There’s no doubt that the volcano is the main attraction on Sakurajima, but it’s far from the only place to visit. Back in town, we made a visit to yet another hot spring, this one heated by the volcano itself. After a quick lunch in the hot spring restaurant, we were just about ready to leave. At the last moment, my fiancée expressed interest in visiting the Dinosaur Park. I resisted. Surely, it would be the tackiest thing imaginable. As it turned out, I was right, but to my fiancée’s credit, it was also unexpectedly fun. Around a dozen or so dinosaurs were scattered throughout the park looming over adults and children alike. We managed to avoid becoming the lunch of a wayward Tyrannosaurus, but not before grabbing a few pics. Happily, unscathed, we made our way back to the boat.

Looking Back

We had to catch a boat the next morning, so we wanted to relax as much as possible. With the rest of our day, we lazily weaved through the warm streets of Kagoshima. We stopped in at the Kagoshima Prefectural Museum, where you can get more details on some of the local flora and fauna. We even got to touch some of them in a hands-on portion, and as we were leaving the receptionist gave us free samples of ash from the volcano.

Continuing through the city, we eventually reached a large mall at the end of the main street. A Ferris wheel was perched on the roof, and we decided to pay for a ticket. As we rose into the clear blue sky, we looked back towards the road that had taken us to Kagoshima. It was getting late in the day, and, having survived the day’s adventures, the warm waters of Okinawa were beckoning us forward. We were just about ready to leave, and after gorging ourselves on shabu-shabu we returned to our hotel.

Destination: Sakurajima
Address: Sakurajimaakamizucho, Kagoshima, 891-1420, Japan

Post by Japan Journeys.