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Boost your Wellbeing in Kagoshima

Updated: Sep 25, 2021

For relaxation, a healthy diet, physical activities or the outdoors, Kagoshima is a fantastic choice.

The southern Kyushu prefecture, which is the 10th largest in Japan, comprises two vast peninsulas and a chain of subtropical islands that stretch all the way to Okinawa, offering truly diverse experiences and activities.

Here are just some of Kagoshima’s highlights sure to boost your wellbeing.

Onsen, everywhere

A hot spring kingdom, Kagoshima has more than 2,700 hot spring sources, the second highest of any prefecture in Japan. There are onsen (hot springs) virtually everywhere, even at the airport. Located just outside the main doors, the small footbath is the perfect way to reenergise your feet before or after your flight.

One of the most unique hot springs is in Ibusuki, a coastal resort town with geothermally heated sand. Visitors can don a cotton kimono and be buried in the warm sand bath for about 10 minutes while enjoying an ocean view. The experience boosts circulation and complexion while removing impurities and reducing stress.

The onsen at Shiroyama Hotel in Kagoshima City is also worth a visit. Its outdoor bath offers an unparalleled view of Mount Sakurajima, an active volcano about four kilometres (2.5 miles) across Kinko Bay. It’s not uncommon to see it emit smoke and ash while you enjoy a dip.

Green tea

Kagoshima is renowned for green tea, the antioxidant-packed beverage proven to lower cholesterol, fight cancer and improve mood.

In 2020, the prefecture became the number one producer of green tea in Japan, by both volume and value. Within Kagoshima, the biggest producer is Minami-kyushu, which has 725 tea producers, 110 tea factories and a 3,500-hectare tea plantation.

There are green tea fields throughout Kagoshima. Many of the owners have shops and tea rooms where you can find out more about the farming and production processes and taste some varieties of tea. You’ll soon understand why Kagoshima has more than 350 years’ experience in making green tea.

Beautiful beaches

Being by the sea boosts wellbeing. Sea air is charged with negative ions that help us absorb more oxygen and balance serotonin, which improves mood. Minerals in seawater, meanwhile, have anti-inflammatory properties that relax muscles, relive stress and aid sleep.

With 28 islands, Kagoshima has a wide array of seaside offerings suited for all tastes, whether you’re looking for water sports, exploration, relaxation or taking in the island vibe.

Amami Oshima, Kagoshima’s largest southern isle, has white sands and clear waters, making it popular for snorkelling, scuba diving and getting Instagram-worthy shots. It is accessible by air and sea.

Refreshing shochu

One of the national drinks of Japan, shochu is distilled alcohol of about 25% proof. In Kagoshima, it is made with sweet potatoes.

Japan’s oldest reference to shochu can be found graffiti at Koriyama Shrine in Kagoshima’s northern town of Okuchi. It says, “The high priest was so stingy, he never once gave us shochu to drink,” and is dated 1559.

Honkaku shochu, the single distilled shochu made in Kagoshima using only Kagoshima-sourced ingredients, has a similar effect on the body as red wine. It is rich in urokinase, a thrombolytic enzyme much like polyphenol, which aids blood circulation. Unlike wine, though, shochu is often served mixed—with hot or cold water, green tea or soda—or simply poured over ice.

Forest bathing

Yakushima, which is about 2.5 hours by boat from Kagoshima City, is a great place to enjoy shinrin-ryoku, the Japanese art of forest bathing proven to boost physical and mental health.

The island’s subtropical ancient forest has been a Natural World Heritage Site since 1993 and is renowned for its tranquil moss-covered stones and fast-flowing streams. It is home to Jomon Sugi, a cedar tree estimated to be between 2,000 and 7,000 years old, as well as a vast range of plant and animal life.

With five well-maintained trails, which take 30 to 210 minutes to walk around, Yakusugi Land is an accessible way to access the lush forest. Stroll along the paths, checking out the unique sugi (cedar) trees, such as Buddha Sugi (shaped like Buddha) or Futago Sugi (shaped like twins), or simply relax and take in the fresh air.

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