A trip to Kagoshima
The Kyushu Shinkansen is a high speed rail line that links Fukuoka in northern Kyushu with Kagoshima in the south. It is 160 miles long.
The line was opened in part in 2004 and then fully completed in 2011. It reduced the travel time between the two places from over three hours to about one and a half hours.
It links directly into the Sanyo Shinkansen which itself connects Fukuoka with Osaka. Some of the trains run from Kagoshima through to Osaka. The shinkansen trains that make all the stops are known as “Tsubame” whilst the express trains are named “Mizuho” and “Sakura”.
Kagoshima is an interesting place to visit. On a trip back to Yamaguchi in 2013 we took the brand new Sakura train from Shin-Yamaguchi and made an overnight stay there.
We ate some tasty “satsuma age” (Satsuma being a word that refers to the area around Kagoshima) fish cakes for lunch at Kagoshima Chuo station.
Then we headed straight over to Senganen Garden.
The garden, UNESCO listed, is extraordinarily beautiful and is even more stunning as it has the volcano “Sakurajima” as a backdrop. The garden is centered on the Iso residence; a home of an influential family from the 1600s.
The garden included a lot of information on the Anglo-Satsuma war of 1863. The war was based around British bombardment of Kagoshima and happened towards the end of the Shogun period.
The history is quite complicated but in the end it actually resulted in a close relationship between Britain and Satsuma. Interestingly, the Japanese tangerines that are known locally as mikan are still known as satsuma in the UK.
We also visited the Shoko Shuseikan nearby; this features a very interesting museum that charts the birth of modern Japanese industry. It is set in one of the oldest western- style buildings in Japan. The exhibits tell the fascinating story of how Japan opened up to the west after 1862 and how it slowly modernised itself.
We returned to Kagoshima for an evening spent exploring a few of the bars of the city and sampling the local Satsuma Cuisine.