Visiting Kagoshima next season? A great choice! Kyushu's southern city has much to offer. One of the great places I always visit, when exploring Kagoshima is Tenmonkan (天文館) in the downtown area, which is not too far from the bay. Like most of the sightseeing places in Kagoshima, Tenmonkan can be reached by the tram. There is so much to see, eat and shop that it is always a great place to come back to. Here are five things to do at Tenmonkan you don't want to miss.
1. Shop, shop, shop!
Huge variety of shops at Tenmonkan
As a fan of Kagoshima and shopping, you would probably stir towards the Chuo-eki Amu center to shop, but Tenmonkan has much to offer, as well. A great thing is that it is all very easily accessible without having to run around to find the right escalator like in usual malls. The shops stand close by each other and run strong ACs that blast into the shaded walkways on hot summer days. From drug stores, 100 yen shops, food places, convenience stores, coffee shops, clothes and jewelry stores, Tenmonkan has everything.
2. Lunch at Tontoro and dessert at Shirokuma
Tontoro Ramen is worth the short wait
Lines in front of restaurants tell you that it is definitely worth waiting for. The Tontoro Ramen shop at Tenmonkan is such a place. Make sure you get there a bit earlier than 12 or later than 1:30 and the wait will not be as bad. It is so worth it to try their Osusume-ramen. The standard bowl costs 780Yen and tastes of rich pork bone broth, juicy meat, savory eggs, fried onions and hearty noodles. One of the best ramen I have ever had. It was voted 2nd best Ramen restaurant in Kagoshima on Tripadvisor.com and is definitely a great lunch spot to check out. Be sure to head to the famous Shirokuma shaved ice shop after that. Their giant desserts are famous for their sweet, milky and fruity taste and the Shirokuma restaurant itself has an outside stand where many people line up to enjoy shaved ice. Have a look out for Kuma-kun!
Cool off with a famous dessert from Shirokuma
3. Walk over to Terukuni Jinja
The entrance to Terukuni Shrine
Terukuni Shrine is just a 10 minute walk away from Tenmonkan. Just head through towards the 225, where you will see a tall, white Torii gate, which ushers visitors into the shrine. The shrine is open daily from 8:30am to 5pm. The construction of Terukuni was founded in 1864 and reconstructed after World War II and is a place of worship, ceremonies and even festivals today. Here you can also learn about Shimazu Nariakira, the Daimyo of Satsuma from 1851–1858. It is believed that he was the one who designed the flag that would become the first national flag of Japan. A lot of history here at Terukuni.
Pray or meditate at the shrine
4. Explore Kagoshima's Nature and Science Prefectural Museum
The prefectural museum right next to Terukuni. Photo by そらみみ on Wikimedia Commons
The Kagoshima Prefectural Museum is located right next to the Terukuni Shrine. It's free of admission and a great place to learn about the volcano Sakurajima, the flora and fauna of Kyushu, Kagoshima's islands and great achievements. When entering, you can watch a Sakurajima volcano life feed and spend time analyzing volcanic rock, which is great if you have only limited time in Kagoshima and cannot make it to the actual Kazan.
5. Pray at St. Xavier's Cathedral
St. Xavier's Cathedral
Just a 7 minute walk from the science museum, the modern Catholic cathedral that honors Jesuit Priest St. Francis Xavier stands proudly. St. Xavier introduced Japan to Christianity in 1549 and spent a year in Kagoshima, studying the Japanese language and gathering followers around him. He is honored by this beautiful church here at Tenmonkan, where the workers welcome every visitor and lead a little tour, explaining history and the importance of St. Xavier. The sanctuary on the second floor with its colorful stain glass window is very beautiful and invites you to meditate or rest.
Tenmonkan is a place of history, famous foods and entertainment. Be sure to make a stop here and get to know Kagoshima more.