Located in Kagoshima prefecture, Kanoya is the largest city in the Osumi Peninsula, the area of land that includes the southernmost point of mainland Japan. Known as the “Town of Roses”, Kanoya is famous for its rose garden as well as local specialties such as amberjack fish, sweet potato, and peanut tofu. Home to a vibrant restaurant scene, a national Air Base, and plentiful hiking ranges, Kanoya has something to offer for foodies, history buffs, and nature enthusiasts alike.
Here’s a one-day itinerary that takes you to some of the most scenic spots in Kanoya.
Take Bakery and Cafe
Start your morning at the ultra-trendy Take Bakery and Cafe in Kotobuki, Kanoya’s hippest neighborhood. With a full line-up of espresso drinks and baked goods ranging from the classic melon pan to French specialties like croque monsieur, you’ll leave physically satiated and visually delighted. If you’re in the mood to linger, take the spiral staircase up to the second floor where you can find plenty of seating and all-white backdrops perfect for insta-worthy pics.
Head over to Arahira Tenjin, a shrine that answers the prayers of students taking school entrance exams. Located slightly out at sea, the sandy path to the red torii gate and shrine is only accessible during low tide. To reach the shrine itself, you’ll need to climb a set of jagged stairs with the help of a well-placed rope. Once at the top, you’ll be greeted with a small, red structure housing a purification font. Take a moment to pray for academic success, then come back down to enjoy the palm trees and clear blue water. Tropical and traditional, Arahira Tenjin offers a one-of-a-kind view. For the more adventurous, stand-up paddleboard (SUP) lessons take place at sunset at this location.
Yukusa Osumi Sea School
Drive less than a mile down the road to Yukusa Osumi Sea School, an old elementary school that has been repurposed into a campground and leisure area. Romp through the spacious grounds, which include an outdoor barbecue area, chiropractic clinic, and co-working space. Most importantly, make sure to sample the excellent chocolate soft cream from kiitos, an artisanal chocolate brand based in Kagoshima prefecture. You’ll note that the chocolate bars are trapezoid-shaped to represent Sakurajima, the famous volcano that spews ash all over Kagoshima.
Minato Shokudo Harbor Restaurant
For lunch, head to Minato Shokudo Harbor Restaurant, a local favorite that overlooks the water and showcases Kanoya’s regional specialty: amberjack fish. Only open during lunchtime, this restaurant's signature dish is kanpachi-don, or amberjack rice bowls. Most of their lunch sets also include an amberjack head simmered in a sweet-savory sauce. While eating a fish head may seem intimidating, don’t be afraid to dig in! The succulent fish flakes off easily and is imbued with a rich umami flavor.
Kanoya Rose Garden
In the afternoon, take your time strolling through the famous Kanoya Rose Garden, the largest rose garden in all of Japan. Home to more than 35,000 roses planted on an eight-hectare plot, the garden is the inspiration behind one of Kanoya’s mascots, Bara-chan, a hybrid rose-woman who makes appearances at local events. At the garden, spend a few hours meandering, enjoying the floral aroma, and admiring nature’s beauty. Flowers are in bloom all year-round, but it’s especially pleasant to visit during spring and autumn when the garden is at its peak.
Wrap up your day with a tasty meal at Harunchi, a Japanese-Italian izakaya attached to Hotel&Hostel Haru. Their diverse menu includes wood-fired pizza, fresh fish carpaccio, and local specialties like Sakurajima chicken karaage and Kagoshima black pork sausage. If you visit on your birthday, you’ll receive chicken wings on the house -- one wing for every year of life you’ve lived.
About the author:
Britney Budiman (@booritney) is a writer, minimalist, aspiring effective altruist, and runner-in-progress with a penchant for saying “yes.” Previously, she has worked in Cambodia at a traditional arts NGO, in Brazil as a social sciences researcher, and in San Francisco at a housing start-up. She currently lives in the countryside of Kagoshima, Japan, where she teaches English. Her favorite thing in the world is good conversation.