Sakurajima Ferry & Sakurajima Volcano in a wheelchair
Sakurajima Volcano – Basic facts
Japan is a country with more than 100 (!) active volcanoes. The Sakurajima in the Prefecture of Kagoshima is one of them and ranks amongst the most dangerous ones. It used to be an island, but the lava flows of a massive eruption in 1914 connected it to the mainland, creating a peninsula. The volcano has exploded several 1000 times a year since 1955. Minor explosions can occur several times throughout the day. Only 4 km of sea separates Sakurajima from Kagoshima City, with more than 500.000 inhabitants. Also, about 4,500 people still live at the feet of the volcano. Inhabitants learned to live with the common ash falls and are aware of the constant danger of another massive eruption within the following years. However, Sakurajima has become the iconic symbol of Kagoshima, and people respect and love “their” landmark.
Wheelchair-accessible Sakurajima Ferry Line
The Sakurajima Ferry Line conveniently connects Kagoshima with Mount Sakurajima. Ferries run 24 hours a day, and the ride from Kagoshima Port to the Sakurajima Ferry Terminal only takes 15 minutes. You have to pay the fare of ¥160 per adult (¥80 for a child) in cash upon exiting the ferry. However, on the way back to Kagoshima, the fee has to be paid already at the Ferry Terminal. There is neither a discount for visitors with disabilities nor is the fare covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Both terminals, as well as the ships, are entirely wheelchair-accessible. Kagoshima Port is within walking/rolling distance of the Tenmonkan shopping district (about 20 min.). Another possibility to get to the port is to take the wheelchair-accessible Kagoshima Cityview Bus. Get off at Kagoshima City Aquarium – the port is right next to it.
The ferries offer a wide range of accessible features: Ramps connect the boats to the ferry terminals and guarantee easy access for wheelchair users. There are elevators inside the ships, as well as wheelchair-accessible restrooms. Of course, there are also dedicated sitting areas for wheelchair users. Even the outer decks from where you get fantastic views of the ‘Cherry Blossom Island’ (Jap. sakura = cherry blossom; Jima = island) are accessible. If you should be hungry while on the ferry, there is a café and even a tiny ramen restaurant.
Accessibility of Sakurajima Island
So, once you make it to the island, you have to decide what to do first. There is much to see! You can take the wheelchair-accessible Sakurajima Island View Bus, which stops at all attractions. A day pass costs ¥500. However, I didn’t use this bus, so I can’t say more about it. It’s just a very short stroll (about 700 m) from the Ferry Terminal to the Visitor Center and Yogan Nagisa Beach Park. ‘Yogan’ is the Japanese word for lava.
Sakurajima Visitor Center
Visitors can learn about the Sakurajima Volcano and its history in the accessible Visitor Center. The entrance to the exposition is free. The staff puts much love and effort into this nicely made small expo. Also, a 15-minute film is projected with impressive material of several massive eruptions. The roaring sound of the blast is unforgettable.
Yogan Nagisa Beach Park
Just a few steps away from the Visitor Center, you enter the Yogan Nagisa Beach Park with its free foot onsen (Jap. onsen = bath). There are spacious wheelchair-accessible restrooms. The naturally hot water welcomes visitors to sit and relax their feet while enjoying the beautiful scenery. There even is a spot especially for wheelchair users at the foot onsen.
Nagisa Yogan Trail
This 3-km-long (1.8 mi) seaside lava trail is entirely wheelchair-accessible. You can see the Taisho lava and how nature recovered from this eruption. The path leads to the accessible Karasujima Observatory, from where you have a beautiful view of the Sakurajima Volcano. Nature lovers surely won’t be disappointed!
Good to know
There are wheelchair-accessible restrooms at the Karasujima Observatory. There are also two other Sakurajima observatories on the island. An essential fact for wheelchair users is that only the Yunohira Observatory is accessible. You can reach the Yunohira Observatory via the Sakurajima Island View Bus. Another one is the Arimura Lava Observatory which, unfortunately, is only accessible for pedestrians because of stairs along the trail.
Sakurajima Island’s major sights are wheelchair-accessible. The accessibility of the Sakurajima Ferry Line is excellent and perfectly suits wheelchair users’ needs. Visiting the iconic Volcano is an ideal day-trip when in Kagoshima City!