Kagoshima, December 24th
Asia trip 2018-2019

Hakata Station is a large and complex station that offers all kinds of means of transport. I take the Sakura 403 to go south to Kagoshima.

From Kagoshima Station, I go to the hotel and leave my bag. I always choose hotels that are close to the station that I will depart from, usually the same that I used to arrive as I travel by Shinkansen. It has proven to be a good practice. I will leave quite early in the morning. It is easier when you are sleeping close to the station. Shinkansen stations usually are not far away from downtown either, so it is a good option. This hotel is also a "tsunami escape building" and includes a Family Mart in the lobby, it has it all.

I walk to the port following one of the main avenues. I take notice of all signs that specify touristic locations. I wanted to see the volcano, but I will decide what to do next afterwards.

As I walk the avenue, I see several statues along the way. The monuments represent different historical characters from the Meiji Restoration. Kagoshima is tightly tied to that period.

"The Namamugi Incident resulted in British casualties for which the UK in the following year, 1863, dispatched a fleet of seven warships in order to negotiate a settlement with Satsuma. This is known as the Anglo-Satsuma Battle. Here, having heard the news of the oncoming fleet, Oyama Iwao, Saigo Judo and young Yamamoto Gonnohyoue hurry to the port."

The English fleet appears on Kagoshima Bay“. Kagoshima

As I get to the port, I see the volcano in the background. It is difficult to miss. I am not sure if to take the ferry to Sakurajima, the island where the volcano is located. I enter the terminal to see when departs the next one. The next ship will leave in 5 minutes. I jump in.

Once in Sakurajima Island, there are several places that can be visited. But, I was not planning to stay for long. The trip on the Ferry was the experience that I was looking for. I look for a place to take pictures of the volcano.

Being so close now, the trees hide the top of the volcano. After a short stroll, I find a landscape view platform were I take several pictures.

This trip I have not used Google translate so heavily as the past year. But, I found it useful. There are signs that are only written in Japanese. It takes a few seconds to stop, take the picture, a get the translation. But, when in doubt, it is worth it. I also tried it with a TV show. It translates sounds quite well. But it is not prepared for real-time translation, so it is not useful for this situation.

As I am preparing to get into the ferry I see a big column of ashes coming out of the volcano. I do not know if that is its usual behaviour. A year ago there was an eruption warning. It is a spectacular view. As I get into the ferry, a taller column of ash comes from one of the calderas of the volcano.

The dark grey ash cloud contrasts with the white clouds in the background. A bird of prey, maybe an Osprey, flyes around the volcano. I take pictures of all the event during the trip back to Kagoshima. There are some great views of Kagoshima as I head back.

From the port I can see a new column of ash. Most people around me are just ignoring it. I guess that they are already used to it.

I continue my visit to the city. I visit shrines, parks, and shopping streets. Finally, I get to the Meiji Restoration Museum. The museum teaches about some local historical figures that were the main characters of the Meiji Restoration. The museum is small. But, it is worth passing by for its surroundings. It is in the Kotsuki riverbank. Outside the museum, there is a street dedicated to the events of the Meiji Restoration with text in Japanese and English.

To see the volcano spill ash up into the sky has been an unforgettable experience. Kagoshima is an exciting city even for its small size.