Exciting adventures beckon in Ibusuki

by Yuki on 11 August 2017

Looking to go on a relaxing journey? I'd highly recommend Ibusuki for its peaceful scenery and beautiful hot springs. Ibusuki is located at the southern end of the Satsuma peninsula, about 1 hour by express train from Kagoshima City to the south. It is an area where a relaxed atmosphere is wrapped in a mild climate and a peaceful oceanic landscape. There’s plenty to see and do in Ibusuki, but here are my top 5 must-visit attractions!

1. Ibusuki no Tamate bako

If you're travelling from Kagoshima Chuo Station to Ibusuki, I'd highly recommend jumping aboard the sightseeing train "Ibusuki no Tamate bako". I especially love its simple black and white design!

During the 50-minute journey, you can just sit back and relax. The sofa seats are spacious and very comfortable! I like to sit on the special rotating seats that face the window to get a view of the breathtaking scenery.

If you have kids with you, you'll be happy to know there's a small sofa corner with a bookshelf and kids' chairs. Because the train runs along the coast, you can look out to admire the peaceful blue sea from the train window when the weather is clear.

Here's a tip: be sure to get your ride commemoration certificate as a souvenir!

2. Tosenkyo Somen Nagashi

You've probably heard of ramen. But have you tried Somen? It's a thin noodle made from wheat flour. “Somen Nagashi” is an activity in which you use chopsticks to pick up Somen in flowing water, then dip them in soup to eat.

It's a fun experience that you must try at least once! Ibusuki is the place where the Somen flowing machine is born. In fact, Tosenkyo is the famous Somen Nagashi spot where the machine was developed.

There are 3 Somen Nagashi restaurants in Tosenkyo park. Approximately 100,000 tons of fresh water springs up in the park every day, and the restaurants use the cold natural water to provide delicious Somen! The restaurants are open throughout the year, but they are lively and bustling especially during summer. During winter, you can savour Somen in the comfort of a heated room.

While adults love somen, children love it too as it's a fun experience trying to pick up the noodles from the flowing water! I highly recommend ordering the sweet fish and carp...it goes perfectly with the noodles! The price varies depending on what you order, but a good gauge is around 1300 yen to 1800 yen per person.

Tosenkyo Somen Nagashi
5967 kaimonjucchou Ibusuki city

3. JR Nishi-Oyama Station

If you have time to spare in Ibusuki, do visit the JR Nishi-Oyama Station! This is the southernmost JR station in Japan.

16 trains stop here daily, and it is a tourist spot that’s especially popular with railway fans. In particular, I love the view of the Kaimondake volcano in the background….it’s simply stunning!

Because it’s an unmanned station, it’s free to visit this station! But here’s a tip: you can purchase an admission ticket souvenir at the Ibusuki station ticket office. You’ll notice a special mail post that’s in front of the station. A normal post is typically painted in red, but this is yellow! It’s the color of Nanohana, which is a flower of Ibusuki city. In addition, yellow is said to be a color which brings happiness. Locals believe that if you send a letter from this “happiness delivery” post, you can send happiness to your mail recipient!

JR Nishi-Oyama station
602 Yamagawaoyama, Ibusuki city,
Kagosima prefecture

4. Nagasakibana

In the same southernmost area as Nishimaya station lies another beautiful attraction worth checking out. Nagasakibana, located at the southernmost of the Satsuma peninsula, is well-known for its spectacular views. By the way, did you know that "bana" means "cape" in Japanese?

It’s a few minutes walk from the parking lot to the Nagasaki nose, and along the way you’ll come across the Ryugu Shrine. It’s painted in red and white and I find its contrast especially eye-catching! Locals believe that the god of marriage lives in this shrine, and one can wish for marital blessings by following certain steps: you put money in the Saisen box, choose your favorite shell and write your wishes on the shell. Then you dedicate it to the pot, ring the bell at the main hall, and make your wish. If you’re looking for the right partner, you might want to try it!

From the observation point under the lighthouse, you can admire the spectacular view of Mount Kaimon over the blue sea spreading in front of you. And on a clear sunny day, you might even see the island of Yakushima in the distance.

Okachiyomizu, Ibusuki city,
Kagoshima prefecture

5. Yamagawa sand steam hot spring “Sayuri”

Although Kyushu is known for its abundance of hot springs, it’s not the only “hot spring” to soak in.

In Ibusuki city, there are several facilities and ryokans that let you enjoy a "sand steaming” hot spring. They are typically located along the coast and you can see steam coming out from the ground! A hot spring of about 80 - 90 ℃ flows about 5 meters under the sandy beach, and your body is covered under the warm sand. Think of it as a Japanese-style sauna!

Before entering the sand steaming hot spring, you’ll be given a towel and also required to change into a yukata at a changing room. It costs 820 yen for an adult with yukata rental included. At the sand steaming hot spring, you simply lie down on the place designated by the attendant and he will cover your body with warm sand.

I love the experience of listening to the calming sound of the waves around you, while your body gradually gets warmer under the hot sand. It’s so relaxing that you might even sleep! It’s believed that the weight of the sand and the effect of hot springs eliminate waste products in your body through sweating.

The experience takes around 15 minutes, after which you can head back to the changing room for a shower. I felt immediately refreshed after the sand steaming experience…and I highly recommend it to re-energize your health and body!

Yamagawa sand steam hot spring “Sayuri”
3339-3 Yamagawafukumoto, Ibusuki city, Kagoshima prefecture