Updated: Oct 14
Kagoshima is the 10th largest prefecture in Japan, comprising two vast peninsulas on the southern tip of Kyushu and a chain of subtropical islands that stretch hundreds of miles south to Okinawa.
Courtesy of K.P.V.B.
Given its size, it is an incredibly diverse tourism destination, with sandy beaches, lush forests, mountain peaks, undulating plateaus, coastal plains, mangroves and more than 2,700 hot spring sources—the second-highest number of any prefecture in Japan.
And, in the past year or so, Kagoshima has added many more tourism offerings to its portfolio, thanks to national and international recognition. Here is our line-up of recent awards bestowed on Kagoshima:
Kagoshima Kuroushi named top wagyu in Japan at Wagyu Olympics
Courtesy of Kagoshima City
Kagoshima is officially home to the best wagyu in Japan, according to the judges of the 12th National Japanese Beef Ability Expo, also known as the “Wagyu Olympics,” which was held over five days in October 2022.
Wagyu farmers from a record 41 of Japan’s 47 prefectures brought 438 cattle from all over the country to participate in the hotly contested event, the pinnacle meeting of the wagyu industry.
Kagoshima Prefecture took first place in six of the nine divisions (incorporating special districts), including the most important Breeders’ Division, making it the best-performing prefecture in Japan.
Amami Oshima and Tokunoshima named UNESCO Sites of World Natural Heritage
Courtesy of O.C.V.B. and K.P.V.B.
These two islands were recognized for their subtropical laurel forests and primitive vegetation, as well as their rich biodiversity.
The Amami rabbit, one of the endemic species on the two islands, is known as a living fossil as it once lived throughout the Asian mainland but can be found only on Amami Oshima and Tokunoshima today.
In July 2021, Kagoshima became the only prefecture in Japan to have two World Natural Heritage Sites. Its other site, Yakushima, was certified by UNESCO in 1993.
Amami Oshima and Yoron listed in Top 100 Global Sustainable Tourism Destinations
Courtesy of K.P.V.B.
Sustainable tourism agency Green Destinations included these two Kagoshima islands in the Top 100 Global Tourism Destinations in 2021.
Amami Oshima was praised for its eco-guide system, which utilizes the expertise of local residents and has minimal impact on wildlife, while Yoron was recognized for its coral conservation program and the ease in which visitors can contribute to environmental protection efforts via community-led cleanups.
Kirishima Jingu Shrine Designated a National Treasure
Courtesy of K.P.V.B.
The Main Hall, Shinden Hall and Worship Hall of Kirishima Jingu Shrine, near Kagoshima Airport, have become the first structural cultural assets in Kagoshima Prefecture to receive a national treasure designation.
Located in Kirishima City, Kirishima Jingu Shrine is situated on the hillside of Mt. Kirishima, with its buildings facing the summit of Mt. Takachiho. The current shrine was built in 1715 by the feudal lord of the then-Kagoshima domain.
In bestowing the recognition, the Japanese government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs praised the composition of the shrine buildings, which takes advantage of the difference in elevation, and the stunning decorations throughout the shrine complex. In front of the main shrine are ryubashira (dragons carved into pillars), which are known as “dragon pillars” and are unique to southern Kyushu.
Izumi Wintering Habitat of Cranes Designated a Ramsar Site
Izumi’s wetlands, on the northwest coast of Kagoshima Prefecture, have been designated sites of international importance under the Ramsar Convention as they are home to 10,000 wintering cranes and other birds. Both the number and variety of birds that live in the area every year are the highest of any area in Japan.
From November to March, visitors can watch the birds in their natural environment at the Crane Observation Center and learn more about the birds and local conservation efforts at Crane Park Izumi.
Find out more
Photo courtesy of Kagoshima City
With such a wealth of natural and cultural treasures, Kagoshima offers visitors countless opportunities to engage with unique aspects of Japan. Find out more about traveling in Kagoshima Prefecture.