The closest island to space! 6 things to do on a two-day trip to Tanegashima

The closest island to space! 6 things to do on a two-day trip to Tanegashima
Did you know that there are approximately 600 isolated islands of various sizes in Kagoshima prefecture? Kagoshima is located at southernmost point of Kyushu, and it is the prefecture with the most isolated islands in Japan. Out of these many islands, 26 of them are remote islands.

There are many famous islands including Yakushima, a World Heritage Site, and Amami-Oshima, which is popular for its beautiful beaches, but this time I would like to introduce Tanegashima.Tangeashima is most famous as the place where matchlocks were first introduced to Japan, but it is also called the "Japan's closest island to outer space", because JAXA has a rocket launching site on the island.

Remote island tourism has been very popular in the recent years, and Tanegashima, which is surrounded by a lot of nature, is the perfect destination for travelling.
Therefore, I would like to recommend several spots to go to on Tanegashima for a two-day trip.I came up with a way to get around Tanegashima efficiently on a two-day trip, and I have also listed recommended routes at the end, so please consider using this as a reference.

▼ The recommended course to fully enjoy Tanegashima on a two-day trip
▼ Access to Tanegashima and how to get around the island

6 things to do on a two-day trip to Tanegashima

【1】 Learn about the history of the introduction of matchlocks to Japan - "Teppokan" Gun Museum (Tanegashima Kaihatsu Sogo Center)

  • Teppokan
  • Teppokan
When it comes to Tanegashima, many people think of matchlocks. Before touring the island, visit the Teppokan Gun Museum to learn about the history of Tanegashima!

In addition to the guns that were introduced from Portugal in 1543, there are many old guns that were gathered from both inside and outside the country exhibited in this museum.

Not only there are exhibitions on the history of guns in Japan, there are also exhibitions on the life and culture of Tanegashima. If you learn about Tanegashima's history at this museum first, you should be able to enjoy Tanegashima even more.
【Address】7565 Nishino-omote, Nishino-omote-shi, Kagoshima
【Hours】8:30am~5:00pm(Final admission is at 4:30pm)
【Closed】25th of every month (not including July and August )/New Year Holiday(From December 30th to January 2nd)
420yen/High school: 270yen/Elementary and Middle school:130yen(Free for children in preschool and under)
・About 5 minutes by car from Nishino-omote Port
・About 10 minutes by foot from Nishino-omote Port

【2】 Experience the life of 1700 years ago - Hirota Ruins

Hirota Ruins
  • Hirota Ruins
  • Hirota Ruins
The Hirota Ruins is the remains of a mass grave where the people who lived on Tanegashima during the ancient times were buried. It is said to have been used from about 1700 years ago to 1300 years ago. In past excavations, more than 158 human bones and 44,000 shellfish items were found at this site.

These artifacts were designated as Japan's Important Cultural Properties.In the attached museum there are many items related to the ruins on display, where you can experience the lives of the people from the ancient times.
【Address】2571 Minamitane-cho, Kumage-gun, Kagoshima
【Hours】 9:00am~5:00pm
Highschool and older: 300yen/Middle school and younger: Free
・Every Monday(The next day if Monday is a holiday)※Open every day in August
・New Years Holiday: 12/29~1/3
※For inquiries on temproary closures due to launching rockets, please contact the Minamitane-cho Education Committee Social Education Division
【Access】About 1 hour by car from Nishino-omote Port

【3】 View the world's most beautiful rocket launching site - JAXA Tanegashima Space Center

JAXA Tanegashima Space Center
  • JAXA Tanegashima Space Center
  • JAXA Tanegashima Space Center
The Tanegashima Space Center is the center of Japan's space developement and launching artificial satellites. It is called the "world's most beautiful rocket launching site", because it is surrounded by the beautiful ocean and sandy beach.
On the site of about 200 times the size of the Tokyo Dome, you can learn about outer space and Japan's space developement at the rocket launching site and the Space Museum.

When yo visit here, you should definitely participate in the free bus tour that will guide you around the site. It is necessary to make prior reservations, but there are areas that you can only go to through this tour, such as the "Yoshinobu Launch Complex", the "Rocket Garage" and the "Range Control Center".Be sure to grab a souvenir at the Space Museum Shop, where you can buy many space-related items including space foods.
【Address】Mazu, Kukinaga, Minamitane-cho, Kumage-gun, Kagoshima
【Hours】 9:30am~5:30pm
【Fee】 Free
【Guided Facility Tour 】Reservation required
【Closed】Every Monday(Closed on Tuesday if Monday is a holiday. Open every day in August)、New Years Holiday(12/29~1/1)
【Access】About 1 hour by car from Nishino-omote Port
※Please check the official website for more information on reservations and such for the tour.
※May close for launching rockets. There may also be temproary closures.

【4】 Enjoy some superb authentic gelato - Tanegashima Gelato HOPE

Tanegashima Gelato HOPE
  • Tanegashima Gelato HOPE
  • Tanegashima Gelato HOPE
This is a shop inside a tourist home called Island Inn HOPE, where you can eat real gelato. The wife of the couple that runs the Island Inn HOPE studied gelato making in Italy, the home of gelato.

The many different flavors of the gelato made from the ingredients of Tanegashima are delicious! Be sure to try the authentic gelato while viewing the beautiful scenery of Tanegashima.
【Address】500-130 Hirayama, Minamitane-cho, Kumage-gun, Kagoshima
【Hours】11:00am~6:00pm(Open until 21:00 if store clerk is present)
【Access】About 50 minutes by car from Nishino-omote Port

【5】 The rare scenery that you can only see for 2 hours per day - Chikura Cavern

Chikura Cavern
  • Chikura Cavern
  • Chikura Cavern
If you are looking for some place that is "instagrammable" on Tanegashima, I recommend going to the Chikura Cavern. This cavern was formed by erosion due to waves.

It is a magnificent spot that you can only enter for 2 hours per day at low tide. Am I the only one that feels I have to go no matter what when I hear that there is a time limit?
【Address】Hirota, Hirayama, Minamitane-cho, Kumage-gun, Kagoshima
【Access】About 60 minutes by car from Nishino-omote Port
【Meterological Agency】
※You can only enter the cavern during the 2 hours before and after the time of low tide. Make sure to check when this time is on the Meterological Agency's website before you visit.

【6】 Now this is what you call a tropical resort! Fully enjoy the emerald green ocean - Urata Beach

 Urata Beach
There are many lovely beaches on Tanegashima, but the Urata Beach is especially beautiful and photogenic, that it was selected as one of Japan's top 88 beaches.

Here you can enjoy the sight of a white sandy beach and the emerald grean ocean, exactly what you would expect from a tropical resort. How about enjoying the beautiful ocean and blue sky at the end of your trip?
【Address】 89-1 Urata, Kunigami, Nishino-omote-shi, Kagoshima
【Access】About 20 minutes by car from Nishino-omote Port

The recommended course to fully enjoy Tanegashima on a two-day trip!

Below is the recommended course for efficiently getting around Tanegashima and the places listed above over two days.The Space Center Guided Facility Tour, which I highly recommend, is only held 3 times per day, so you have to consider these times or you may not be able to go on the tour.

If you follow this course, you should be able to efficiently enjoy each and every one of thes spots!
≪Day 1≫
9:10am Get on the High-speed boat "Toppy" from Kagoshima Port

10:45am Arrive at Tanegashima (Nishino-omote Port)

11:20am Teppokan Gun Museum (Tanegashima Kaihatsu Sogo Center)


2:00pm Hirota Ruins Museum

3:00pm Tanegashima Space Center (~5:00pm)

5:10pm Tanegashima Gelato HOPE

Check in at hotel

≪Day 2≫
9:30am Chikura Cavern(※Be sure to check the time for low tide before visiting, since the time changes every day)

11:00am Urata Beach


1:05pm Get on the High-speed boat "Toppy" or "Rocket" from Tanegashima (Nishino-omote Port)

2:40 pm Arrive at Kagoshima Port

Access to Tanegashima and how to get around the island.


Getting to Tanegashima is actually easy!

It may sound difficult to get to an isolated island, but there are actually many different ways to get to Tangegashima from Kagoshima mainland. Currently you can either take the plane, a ferry boat, or a high-speed boat.

This time I will show how to get to Tanegashima by the high-speed boat from the Kagoshima Port to the Nishino-omote Port. Even if you go to the island by the plane or ferry, you can still use this as a reference for your trip!

Renting a car to get around the island

On the island, it is necessary to get around by a car, so I recommend renting a car. Nearby the Nishino-omote Port, there are several rent-a-cars, so make sure to make prior reservations for this, in addition to reserving a hotel.
《High-speed boat "Toppy" or "Rocket" terminal》
【Address】6 Honko-Shinmachi, Kagoshima-shi, Kagoshima (Kagoshima Minami-futo Tanegashima/Yakushima High-speed Boat Passenger Terminal)
<Period: April 1st, 2017~June 30th, 2018>
・Adult Fare: 7,200yen one way (12,800yen round trip discount)
・Child Fare: 3,600yen one way(6,400yen round trip discount)
<Period: July 1st, 2018~for the time being>
・Adult Fare: 7,700yen one way(13,800yen round trip discount)
・Child Fare: 3,850yen one way(6,900yen round trip discount)
【Access】About 20 minutes by bus from JR Kagoshima Chuo Station
In addition to the spots that were introduced here, there are many more amazing places in Tanegashima.

If you are planning to visit Tanegashima, please do use the recommended course as a reference for setting up your own plan to fully enjoy your trip.

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