The original conception of this trip in early February 2018 was to visit the Kagoshima Prefecture for onsen and local cuisines, after more than 20 years since our first visit.
However from mid-March, the weather in Japan had been much warmer than normal and sakura full bloom was expected to be 5 to 7 days earlier. We were lucky to bump into it, along with sunny days for the entire week in late to end March.
Our itin included Kagoshima city, Ibusuki, Kirishima, Hitoyoshi and Minamata. The last two locations are in southern Kumamoto Prefecture.
Visited this landscape garden by city view buses. Apart from Sakura, there were other spring flowers such as Momo (Peach), Shakunage (Rhododendron), Tsubaki (Camellia) etc. The Sakurajima volcano – a major symbol of the city, could be seen clearly across the Kagoshima Bay from the garden, including from its restaurants. Had a nice lunch there and took a quick stroll inside the Shuseikan adjacent to it before leaving.
Took ferry across the bay to visit Sakurajima. A loop bus served up to Yunodaira observatory – the closest point to the crater, in one hour and back to the ferry terminal. The loop bus also stopped by at a few points for 10 minutes along the way.
Volcanic ash and gases had been erupting for most of the time on that day. Though the ashes and plumes were blowing away from us towards an easterly or south-easterly direction, a thin layer of volcanic ashes were on the road uphill and inside the loop bus.
returned to the city in late afternoon to check out the sakura status. It was around 50% along the banks of Koutsukikawa – a stream.