Mt. Minamidake from Lava Road Sakurajima
Kagoshima is the capital city of Kagoshima Prefecture at the southwestern tip of the Kyūshū island of Japan, and the largest city in the prefecture by some margin. It has been nicknamed the 'Naples of the Eastern world' for its bay location (Aira Caldera), hot climate and impressive stratovolcano, Sakurajima. As of 1 January 2005, the city had an estimated population of 605,650 and a density of 1,107.81 persons per km². The total area is 546.71 km². In 2003, the city had an estimated population of only 554,136 and density of 1,911.41 persons per km². The total area was 289.91 km². The reason the city's total area was nearly doubled between 2003 and 2005 is that five towns --- Kooriyama, Matsumoto, Kiire, Sakurajima, and Yoshida --- were merged into Kagoshima City on 1 November 2004. Kagoshima is approximately 40 minutes from Kagoshima Airport, and the city features large shopping districts and malls, is served by trams, and has many restaurants featuring Satsuma Province regional cuisine: kibi (a kind of tiny fish), tonkatsu (caramelised pork, as opposed to the breaded version encountered elsewhere in Japan), smoked eel, and karukan (sweet cakes made from steamed sweet potatoes and rice flour). A large, modern aquarium has been installed on the old docks overlooking the volcano. The Senganen (Isoteien) Japanese garden is just outside the city. The St. Xavier church is a reminder of the first Christians who came to Japan. One of the best places to see the city (and the active volcano across the bay) is from the Amuran Ferris wheel on top of 'Amu Plaza', the shopping centre attached to Kagoshima Central Train Station. The wheel has two completely transparent gondolas which give a 360-degree view from 91 m above the ground.