Top things to do

Top Choice Gardens in Kagoshima

Sengan-en

In 1658, the 19th Shimazu lord laid out his pleasure garden on this hilly, rambling bayside property of groves, hillside trails and one of Japan's most impressive pieces of 'borrowed scenery': the fuming peak of Sak…
Top Choice Museum in Chiran

Chiran Peace Museum

There is perhaps no more eloquent monument to the futility of war than this harrowing museum about WWII kamikaze pilots. Around 2km west of town, Chiran’s air base was the point of departure for 1036 WWII tokkō ('sp…
Top Choice Sweets in Miyazaki

Okashi no Hidaka

At this family-run legend, in business since the early 1950s, peruse the refrigerator case of luscious-looking Japanese and Western pastries, but order the giant nanjakō-daifuku (dumpling of sweet bean paste, strawb…
Top Choice Bar in Kagoshima

Honkaku Shōchū Bar Ishizue

This chic, amber-and-wood shōchū (alcohol distilled from potatoes, wheat, rice or barley) bar has everything going for it, and it's one of the finest places to drink Kagoshima's prefectural liquor. There are more th…
Top Choice Noodles in Satsuma Peninsula

Tōsenkyō Sōmen Nagashi

This sprawling restaurant in a riverside gorge near Ikeda-kō gets an estimated 200,000 annual visitors (!), paying tribute to the 1967 birthplace of nagashi-sōmen (flowing noodles). Sōmen (thin wheat-flour noodles) …
Top Choice Japanese in Miyazaki

Ogura Honten

Chikin nanban (sweet fried chicken with tartar sauce; pictured on the menu) was invented here in 1961, and crowds still flock to this no-frills shop under a red-and-white awning, in the alley behind Yamakataya Depar…
Top Choice Museum in Kagoshima

Museum of the Meiji Restoration

This museum offers insights into the unique social system of education, samurai loyalty and sword techniques that made Satsuma one of Japan's leading provinces. There's a good smartphone app in English. Hourly audio…
Top Choice Japanese in Kagoshima

Kumasotei

This atmospheric multistorey restaurant near central Tenmonkan covers all your Satsuma-ryōri needs: Satsuma-age (deep-fried fish cake), tonkotsu (pork ribs), kurobuta shabu-shabu (black-pork hotpot), and lots of fre…
Top Choice Bar in Kagoshima

Karakara

On the 3rd floor of a generic bar building next to a 7-Eleven, a low door leads to another dimension. Enthusiastic owner Hiroshi-san has crammed every square millimetre with 30,000 (!) Showa-era toys, memorabilia an…
Top Choice Steak in Miyazaki

Miyachiku

If you're going to splurge on Miyazaki gyū (beef), do it at this gracious yakiniku (Korean-style barbecue) and steak house with river views. Lunch set menus are a nice deal, with appetiser, salad, beef, vegetables, …