Do you have an idea how many tourists from abroad visit Kagoshima
About 80,000 foreign tourists per year come to Kagoshima
for traveling (83,926 tourists in 2000)!! By nationalities, the
largest group of tourists comes from Hong Kong (37,707),
then Korea (19,363), Taiwan (7,389), USA
(5,860), and finally China (1,189). (Numbers of tourist
in 2000) Although traveling alone or in couples has been increasing,
travelers from Asian countries like Hong Kong and Korea still
travel in big guided groups. You may have seen them in the middle
of Tenmonkan arcade sometimes.
People who travel alone or in couples are usually "backpackers",
which is a very casual way to travel, always with a backpack on
their back! Most backpackers are from Western countries, and even
in Kagoshima you will sometimes see them around the city. They
usually get information about the places they want to visit through
internet, or backpackers guide books.
In Kagoshima city, there is a family-run inn "Nakazono Ryokan"
which is a member of Japanese Inn Group near Kagoshima City hall.
About 70% of their visitors are foreigners, due to the cheap accommodation
rate. There are some regular visitors who visit Kagoshima and
stay there every time. This year, a German tourist group came
again in September, and I decided to join them for one day. They
made a cycling tour around Sakurajima.
(This trip was reported in September.)
I met them
at the bicycle renting place. The guide, Mr. Wolfgang, who speaks
very fluent Japanese introduced me the group. They were very nice,
three men and two women, with a wide range of ages. The guide
was a former foreign student in Hokkaido. He liked Kagoshima since
the first time he came here. For this day I also became part of
the group. I was surprised, when I knew that nobody knew each
other before the trip, and all met in Osaka for the first time!
Wolfgang told me how he and his travel agency designed this kind
of travel for small groups (5-8 people) during 3 weeks around
Japan, not only visiting the usual sightseeing spots or cities,
but also small towns where you can feel the nature and the local
lifestyle, staying in budget places and using public transportation
to be closer to local people.
getting off from the ferry in Sakurajima, we headed to the left
where a residence area is near the Sakurajima port, and the road
is smooth and extended by the bay. We saw the fish cages in which
fishermen told us, they culture "Kampachi" and "Yellow
tail", very common fishes in the area. After a while, we
reached Saidou beach, which is the only natural beach in Sakurajima.
For the German people, that wasn't certainly the idea of beach
Wolfgang got a flat tire, but fortunately we found a very kind
man who helped him to change his bike at the bicycle renting store.
In the meanwhile, the rest of the group took a break and rest
on a nice small beach with black and brown small light stones,
next to a small fishing port. One of the guys finally decided
to swim, so changed clothes and jumped in the water: This was
the first time to swim in the Pacific he said!! Others walked
along the beach picking up shells and wood.
Mr. Wolfgang came back with a new "mama-chari" (usually
for ladies), we started our trip. After a while, the road became
gradually an upward slope. We started to see many brown pine trees
and it was quite strange since pine trees don't change color with
seasons. We knew later that pine trees have been dying, due to
a special insect that attacks them.
bay disappeared from our sight and the road slope became quite
steep, so that we walked for a while. Once we got the top downhill
was very nice and curves were exiting! There was a small wooden
cottage with some cars parked in front. We stopped by, and an
old woman was selling Sakurajima small sweet mandarins and bottles
of golden colored camellia oil. On the ground, seeds of camellia
to produce oil were placed to dry. People use the oil for the
hair. After drinking juice we continued our trip.
realized how Sakurajima has some small bays with artistic shape
lava rocks, greenery pine trees, a clear dark green sea and many
fishing boats inside. When you see it from the hill, these bays
look like hidden secret bays.
the East side of Sakurajima, we didn't found many houses; only
sea or green. From the foot of the mountain to mid way up the
side, you could see only greenery fields, but somehow they were
strange. Looking carefully you were not able to see single trees
and most trees were covered by a weed like ivy. It looked like
as if you put over a huge net of ivy on the field from the air.
appeared gradually and finally we reached the buried gate, which
is a Shintoist shrine gate buried by lava in the huge eruption
of 1914. This is the only thing that remains from former eruptions.
The place is often visited by tourists; during our stay there,
we saw around 8 groups, including a Polish one.
headed then to the place where Sakurajima and Osumi peninsula
are connected, downhill most of the time. The traffic became heavier
and we had to be careful, since cars passed quite close to us.
Even though the view of Osumi peninsula and Kinko bay was wonderful.
For the German people this was the real Japanese Kagoshiman scenery.
Not far from
there, we found the Arimura viewpoint, which is one of the main
sightseeing spots in Sakurajima, usually busy with people. We
stayed for a while. After the Furusato hot spring, we could see
the rocky surface of Sakurajima. The road became flat with sea
and lava field to our left and lava field and Sakurajima to our
right. We reached the Lava road.
the lava road, we saw a residence area and after it we found a
"Sakurajima-yaki kiln", which is Sakurajima pottery
made with glaze containing volcanic ash and using hot spring water.
They are usually shiny black or dark brown color and it is one
of Sakurajima's specialties.
finally arrived to Sakurajima port again. We all were quite tired
but really satisfied with our bike tour around Sakurajima.