A WALK IN KYUSHU


The sun shines differently in Kagoshima; Be enthralled by the charm of the South Country

After a two hours on a plane flying from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, I finally touched down at Kagoshima Airport. Being my first time in Kagoshima, I stepped out of the plane with some anticipation. However, my first impression was just how bright it was. It had been a fine day in Tokyo when I left, but compared to Tokyo, the sunlight here was totally different. Straight away I sensed that I had reached the South Country, and felt very happy. 

Kagoshima Airport is in the centre of Kagoshima Prefecture. Buses leave from there to the Prefecture’s major sights, and it takes 40-50 minutes by bus to reach the entryway to Kagoshima City, Kagoshima-Chuo Station. I got in the car sent to me and headed to Ijuin, located near a kiln used for Satsuma porcelain, where I had a meeting.

After driving for a little in the city, the car made its way up onto a mountain road. I became quite aware of the abundance of nature. The town of Ijuin is located on the western side of Kagoshima City, in the center of the Satsuma Peninsula. It is mostly situated in a region between two mountains. Ijuin’s place name originates from the Ijuin family who had domain over this region, an offshoot of the Shimazu family who were once lords of Satsuma.

Once I finished learning about Satsuma porcelain, I headed next towards Kagoshima City for a meeting with makers of traditional Oshima silk fabric (pongee). Nowadays, Kagoshima City is full of World Heritage. Which is to say that this year in July 2015, UNESCO added “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution” to the World Heritage List. Of the 23 sites in Kyushu and Yamaguchi Prefecture, which were the focus, the Shuseikan, Terayama Charcoal Kiln and the Sekiyoshi Sluice Gate are inside Kagoshima City, and are very popular with visitors. Perhaps this is why the number of international tourists is on the rise.

Next, I left for Tarumizu, which faces Kagoshima City across the bay from Kagoshima Port. Even though it is possible to take the highway, I took the ferry connecting the Satsuma Peninsula, where Kagoshima City is, to the Osumi Peninsula where Tarumizu lies, so that I could take in the sight of Sakurajima.

I watched Sakurajima erupting off the left side of the ferry. While I was enjoying this wondrous sight, many of the other passengers were crowded into the restaurant. When I followed them, everyone was eating udon. When I asked about it, I was told that the ferry was famous for its dish of Nankai udon. I followed their lead. As I gazed out the window, I felt that I could hear the Earth’s heartbeat. This was a truly magnificent sight, the spectacle of Sakurajima while eating Nankai udon...