After the freezing cold of Mount Aso, it was time head south to warmer climes. Kagoshima is the main city in southern Kyushu, and the largest city in Kagoshima Prefecture. Here the weather is almost sub-tropical, with no snow, which makes this part of the island a very popular tourist destination. In keeping with the theme of the trip, we visit another active volcano and also drive along Satsuma peninsula, the most southern tip of Kyushu, which is dotted with resorts and hot springs.
Dominating Kagoshima’s skyline is Mount Sakurajima, an active volcano just 15 minutes ferry ride from the downtown pier. A massive eruption in 1914 resulted in lava flow that connected this former island with the neighbouring Osumi peninsula. There is a ring road around the volcano, and also a side road up to an observation deck near the crater. The southern peak is quite active with billowing smoke and black ash (you can literally taste it in the air), and noxious fumes. This is the closest I’d want to get to a live volcano…
Ibusuki and Satsuma Peninsula
Heading further south, we spend a night at a ryokan in the resort town of Ibusuki. A famous spa and health retreat, Ibusuki Hakusuikan is known for its onsen hot springs and “hot sand baths”, where you are covered up to your neck with hot volcanic sand and literally left to bake. It’s a unique experience for sure! The resort grounds consist of multiple wings and several gardens, all immaculately kept.
Touring Satsuma peninsula we could still see fall colours in the lovely Japanese maple trees, due to the exceptionally mild weather in this area.
Found your travel story through Google. Nice to read! I am planning on doing a roadtrip in Kyushu around the same time as you did, on december of this year. I do have a question which you may be able to answer….
Since the area will probably surprise us, we would like to be flexible in our planning. Did you book everything (hotels etc) on forehand? We would like to book ‘spontanious’, on the day itself or 1 or 2 days before. Do you think, with you experience, that that is possible in Kyushu this time a year?
I think it should be possible to do it “on-the-fly” but personally I would have a backup plan just in case – unless you really don’t have an idea about which area you will be in on any given day. When I travel I usually book the accommodations in advance, but that’s just my preference and peace of mind. What you can do is use an internet service that does not charge up-front and has a flexible cancellation policy. For example, I’ve used Booking.com quite often, as many of the hotels there do not require a deposit, and free cancellations sometimes up to the day of your planned stay. So you can use that as a back up, and if you find something better, you can still cancel (with some limitations, of course). In small towns, it’s better to find something in advance, just in case. Big cities I think you should be fine. There’s always the capsule hotels which are an adventure too! Have a great trip.
greetings from kuala lumpur.
stumbled upon your site while researching info on kyushu.
thought i drop you a note to say hi and thank you for sharing ;).
nice blog, keep up the good work.
Thank you Ken for your support! Loving your blog too – looks like we have a common love for all things Fuji X.