RU  UK  EN
Articles  >  Visit  >  Kagoshima: City with kamikaze fame

Kagoshima: City with kamikaze fame

Author: 18.05.2019 | Japan
Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius!, Nietzsche exclaimed in a prophetic ecstasy. Gloomy pathos of the philosopher could be hardly understood by the residents of the Japanese city of Kagoshima, located at the bottom of the caldera Aira resulting from the explosion about 22 thousand years ago. Farmers were hoeing edges of the hollow from the Bronze Age, as usual fending off the ashes scattered in the air.

And indeed, what is unusual about living inside active stratovolcano?

The ancient port city of Kagoshima welcomes guests with thick clouds of soot. Steaming cone of Sakurajima volcanic island off the southern coast of Kyushu occasionally shoots up streams of soot and ash into the azure sky. Every day a ferry brings here noisy crowds of summer visitors, hurrying to the hot springs on the slopes of the fire-breathing mountain. From the Yunohira observation deck there is dramatic view of the south peak Minamidake and luxurious aquarium with diving area, a favourite place for meditation is the lava observatory Arimura. Below stretches uneven field of solidified magma, dotted with whimsically curved black pines resembling hieroglyphs inscribed by brush skilled calligrapher.kagoshima-japan-nagasaki-hana-kagoshima-prefecture-187278.jpgPhoto pexels.com

Due to the surface bedding of thermal waters, Kagoshima vicinities developed agriculture and gardening. The outstanding success of the islanders in the cultivation of fruit is evidenced by former name of the southern part of Kyushu - Satsuma, which means citrus. Currently, local farmers reap harvest two or three times a year. Captivating smell of plum brandy Honbo Shuzo, sweet potato vodka Shōchū lure gourmet into pubs and wine boutiques. The most expensive drinks are bottled in the distillery Galleria Hombo, whose owner adheres to ancient recipes.

In the periods of Heian and Edo, lands of today’s Kagoshima Prefecture belonged to a powerful Shimazu clan, whose fortune was many times bigger than modest reserves of the imperial treasury. To the credit of the samurais, they cared not only about getting their pockets full. Magnificent landscape garden Senganen laid by daimyo Mitsuhisa in 1658, shows the spiritual quests of several generations of the ruling dynasty. In support of the well-known Buddhist thesis about hidden essence of things, garden landscapes create the optical illusion of incredible proportions: Sakurajima seems to be a tiny hill, Kinko Bay looks like a decorative pond.fukuoka-japan-red-bridge-shrine.jpgPhoto secure.royalcaribbean.com

The compositions are illuminated by stone lanterns, souvenir vendors line along the paths inspiring passers for wicked thought to squander all the cash for the Satsuma coloured crystal and exclusive ceramics, painted with gold and enamel paints. By the way, the historical pottery factory Iso Onivaiake is within a hand reach. If you wish, you can watch artists at work and take picture of the birth of another masterpiece.

An extensive exhibition of local history and landscape museum Shoko Syuseykan monitors the development of industry and crafts in Kagoshima. A separate room houses a collection of machines which launched industrialization of the country, including the reconstructed reverberatory furnace for smelting of artillery pieces adorning the park alleys. Belated technological revolution has met the expectations: in 1970 Japan became the fourth country in the world to launch into orbit an artificial satellite of the Earth. Four-staged rocket was launched from the spaceport Utinoura, located half an hour drive from the city.

See also: Departure: Satoyama

The technological superiority of Kagoshima is explained by close contact with European culture, that decided the outcome of the campaign against the shogunate, started by Shimazu Hisamitsu supported by Mori and Yamauchi clans. The lively harbour with access to the East China Sea did not initially fit into the strategy of the Tokugawa clan isolationistic policy. In 1549, Prince Takahisa for the first time admitted to the port the ships of the Portuguese missionaries led by the Jesuit Francis Xavier. Farmers were reluctant to listen to the good news, and disillusioned preachers soon moved to Hirado, but arquebus of "red barbarians" left at the disposal of the rulers of Satsuma, later they were enhanced by local craftsmen. Tightly closed window to Europe opened slightly, and after three hundred years it opened widely and noisy, exposing the way to the Meiji Restoration - era of Japanese modernity.Kagoshima.original.35379.jpgPhoto thousandwonders.net

In the protracted conflict between reformers and supporters of the feudal system, Kagoshima played an ambiguous role, having overcome a tortuous path from the locomotive of the revolution to the outpost of the reaction. Tellingly, the same figure was in the focus of events. A brilliant military leader Saigō Takamori defeated the army of the Shogun only for one purpose: in a decade, he led obviously doomed Satsuma Rebellion and lost his life on the picturesque mountain Sira-yama. The ramparts of the destroyed castle Tsurumaru still keep traces of bullets fired in the days of the rebellion.

Biography of Takamori became the basis for the acclaimed Hollywood movie The Last Samurai. For the sake of external effect, script writers did not even try to understand the political background and the real motives of the commander, immediately replacing the bright distinctive personality by convenient myth. Want to know the truth about the life and death of the hero? There is a memorial complex Saigo Nancy in the park Nancy Kamitatsuo.

Today Kagoshima does not remember past insults and lives to the rhythm of an eternal holiday. Locals love to entertain tourists and enjoy themselves, competing in the art of sand sculpture, arranging spider fights and ceremoniously burning old beach umbrellas to mark the start of the new bathing season.091_reh_Nyumatsuri.jpgPhoto ohmatsuri.com

In November, the best dancers of the Land of the Rising Sun come to the traditional dance competition Ohara Matsuri. Colourful carnival procession on the opening day of the festival are very popular among foreigners. Perhaps, Nietzsche was right: to live at the foot of the volcano might be frightening, but not boring and very samurai-like.

Cover photo silversea.com

It will be interesting:
Kabuki: thorny path of flower
Traditional Japanese kabuki theatre has always been a mystery to the European mentality: only an expert on the culture of the Land of the Rising Sun can understand a play without guide’s tips. The word kabuki is sometimes translated as "the art of singing and dancing". Why not an operetta? The essence of performance is not confined to musical presentation only...
Tea empire of the world
Few of us, while our favourite tea is steeping, are scrutinizing about the way this drink went through to get into our mug. Of course, stereotypically, we know that most likely it came from India or China, but in fact origin can vary. In the world there are about 30 countries which are very seriously engaged in tea business, and within this community a very clear hierarchy emerges, headed by the so-called Big Tea Seven.
Kintsugi. Japanese art of restoration
The Japanese are one of those peoples who zealously respect the ancient traditions. They respect old age, being interested in ancestors and often know the family ancestry by heart. With such a worldview, it is not surprising that a unique technique for the restoration of kintsugi appeared exactly there. Read about it in OUTLOOK.
Interesting not only in city centers. Residential districts of the world
There are hardly many travelers who would go somewhere further than city centre where their hotel is situated when on a short-term journey. And if location is a metropolis on top of everything else, such “outside” trips are sure to be put on hold till better occasions.
Incredible school lessons from around the world
Grinding away at their books to master basics of algebra and geometry, or memorizing years of monarchs’ reign skimming history textbooks is commonplace for schoolchildren all over the world while getting ready for a test in cybersecurity or boasting to have “A”s in beekeeping is strange at the vey least. Hereafter we are going to touch upon these and other unusual classes taught in foreign schools.
Oriental makeup as a tradition: Seductive and languishing look
The well-known saying goes: east is a delicate matter. All-in-all, it is true as evidenced even by details. Due to specific climate, eastern women have similar type of appearance, and their nations are united by close cultures. Therefore, they prefer the same beauty standards. Women are supposed to be modest, to dress so as to completely or almost completely conceal figure.
Animals in the city: When people sing in tune with Nature
Many city dwellers are irritated by cats, dogs or even pigeons in the streets. Attempts of zoo-advocates to save them from attacks of people and from starvation are mainly ineffective. But there are wonderful cities in this world where people perfectly coexist with deer, peacocks and cattle…
Nihongami: Topknot as a aign of status
Nihongami is a certain way to arrange hair in Japanese tradition. Interestingly, in the Land of the Rising Sun hairdos were legally controlled and served as some sort of dress code for ladies of different social statuses and classes. Therefore, each class had strictly determined corresponding outfit and hairstyle and those laws are still obeyed by geishas and their apprentices.
Little pets of big cities
Germans have other pets besides German Shepherds and in Boston not just Boston Terriers can be seen. People choose dogs relying on own preferences. But sometimes locals are too prone to having a certain breed so it becomes a distinctive of a location. Natural conditions, fashion and even set of mind contribute to it.
We were there: Japan - the subtleties of Tokyo life
Not every tourist will come to Japan. But Marina Belka, a fashion designer, did it, because the mysterious Land of the Rising Sun was her childhood dream. She shared with us her impressions of Tokyo and gave practical advice to future tourists.
Rice fields: Grains of unbelievable beauty
- Do you want to try some rice? - such a question is greeted by guests in China. And if the owners are also farmers, they can invite you on an unusual excursion and show you the masterpiece of natural art. The grass which we often eat without thinking about its aesthetics, at the time of growing resembles a blanket woven from multi-colored rags ...
This is a real service! Japanese taxi
The first thing every tourist shall learn in a country is a transport system. Very often it seems to be complicated and confusing, and it takes weeks or even months to make head or tail of it. OUTLOOK reader Natalia Usenko visited Japan and is sharing her impressions about the most comfortable and safest transport in the world.
Superflat: Concept of contemporary Japanese art
Anime admirers would never pass by contemporary Japanese art. Especially if this trend is directly related to manga comics. Artist Takashi Murakami was the first to think about how to dub an art that catches inspiration in every new anime, but speaks of eternal values, interlacing with the ethnic canvases of Western artists.
Desperate Futurism: Japan. Part 1
OUTLOOK journalist Elena Rasenko came back from Japan and launches a special series of articles devoted to this country. Warning for very sensitive readers: Beware! After reading, you will get a keen desire to break away, buy a ticket and fly to such a marvelous and fascinating Land of the Rising Sun!
In the rhythm of heart. Japanese drums taiko
Its sounds penetrate the heart, stop the flow of thoughts and cause the blood to move in some kind of magical rhythm. It's a roll of thunder. It gives the shivers. It's a secret. Japanese drums in their homeland are elevated to the rank of cult. Without them, not a single official event is possible, their melodies delight the hearing during joy and help to experience sadness.
The ghost brush of miss Hokusai
The eccentric elder Katsushika Hokusai was the real star of the Edo period, the creative genius and the brutal debtor of the half of his city. He used at least 30 names, changed 93 houses and created a lot of prints, drawings and paintings. His internationally recognized print The Great Wave off Kanagawa is mesmerizing. But only a few people know that this block printing, as well as many other works, was created by Hokusai with assistance of his daughter - artist Katsushika Ōi, lost in time and overshadowed by her genius father crazy about art.
Departure: Satoyama
In Japan there is a city with the citizens who trust each other. It seems that they drink water from one source that flows along their houses. As well, they wash hands after the meals in the same places. Satoyama in translation means an ideal place for life in harmony with the nature. It is situated in Northern prefecture Gifu that is isolated from the rest of the world with the mountain tops and rice fields.
Tasty Japan: Give the country a try
Ice cream with a taste of horse meat, pickled insects, fish with deadly venom, etc – Japanese cuisine has things to surprise, amaze and shock you with. And truth be told, enumeration of these dishes doesn’t help my appetite at all. But we are not after exotic stuff. True culinary tourism is an attempt to comprehend mindset and feel national distinctive color through traditional cuisine – not try most exotic dishes. Parts of people’s souls, its history and culture are actually concentrated in national dainties.
Rice canvas. Tambo Art
The Japanese are very creative people, especially when it comes to rice. If they have some extra spare time and large spacious rice paddies, then routine process of growing an agricultural crop turns into art...
Colorful paradise: How Japanese people see the aesthetics of beauty
Japan is the country where people are loyal towards the traditions. The colorful scale did not make an exception – on the contrary, in the worldview of Japanese people it acquired almost divine origination. ‘The color of morning sky’, ‘the depth of night heaven’, ‘the shades after the sunrise’ – in such a way Japanese people called colors that they observed outside. The word ‘color’ became a sort of description of a beloved person. Perhaps, in the colorful intonations of color the most gentle and beautiful feelings concentrated. Today OUTLOOK will tell what the symbolic of flowers in Japan is based on.
Close
Outlook facebook page