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Introducing Satsuma Peninsula

This peninsula south of Kagoshima city has fine rural scenery, well-preserved samurai houses, a kamikaze pilots’ museum, the hot-spring resort of Ibusuki (famous for its hot-sand baths) and the conical peak of Kaimon-dake. On the other side of Kinkō-wan is Cape Sata, the southernmost point of Japan’s main islands.

Exploring the peninsula by train and bus is possible, but quite time-consuming. The JR Ibusuki–Makurazaki line operates south from Kagoshima to Ibusuki and then turns west to Makurazaki, from where you can make your way by local bus back to Kagoshima.

Renting a car is a good alternative, and Eki Rent-a-Car (www.ekiren.co.jp in Japanese; 12hr from ¥4720); JR Kagoshima-Chūō station (258-1412; 2nd fl tourist information booth; 8am-8pm); Ibusuki (0993-23-3879; JR Ibusuki station, 1-1-1 Minata; 8am-5pm) is the easiest option.

Daily bus tours to Ibusuki and Chiran depart from Kagoshima-Chūō station. A daily sightseeing bus (¥4550) heads off to Chiran at 8.50am, whizzes you around the sights and then does the same thing in Ibusuki, ending the day with a soak in a hot spring.