Shinkansen Osaka to Kagoshima Japan (Prepare for lift off)
You’ll be traveling on the Shinkansen Sakura Super Express and Sanyo. The shinkansen stops at most of the important places along the way.
Key points in this post
1. The shinkansen (bullet train) is fast, real fast.
2. Try unreserved (line up early for a window seat)
3. The Japan Railpass is invaluable (just show and walk through)
4. Your favourite cities / areas are just a 2-4 hour train ride away
5. The shinkansen is super comfortable (unwind, write or relax)
Picture yourself rocketing into a dark tunnel deep within a massive hillside. Suddenly the light of day hits you …solar farms and satellite cities flash by, forests disappearing into mist, patches of snow left over from winter…
You’re sleepy, warm as toast, curled up comfortably in someone’s lounge room. The kind of lounge room that hurtles smoothly through day and night like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.
Welcome to the shinkansen Osaka to Kagoshima. With stops almost anywhere and everywhere you want. You’ll snap out of relaxed mode when the gorgeous voice system kicks in politely informing you where the next destination is.
Of course, if you just slept through that announcement (you’d have to be really tired to do that) then you’ve just missed it. If not, you’ve got 60 seconds to depressurise and exit.
To Reserve Or Not To Reserve
The first time I jumped on the shinkansen from Osaka to Hakata, the woman at the JR (Japan Rail) office asked if it was ok if she gave me an isle seat. Sure I said. Why not?
I’d found my way to the JR office at Shin-Osaka station to get my JR rail pass official ticket (you purchase a JR rail ‘pass’ in your home country and exchange it for the official ticket in Japan).
So finally I was ready to try it out…
Although the shinkansen rockets through the landscape you still, in a flashy sort of way, get to see what’s out there. You can bet the curious monkey in me had head glued to the windows the whole time.
So I thought it’d be smart to get a window seat next time.
Just so you know, the Shin-Osaka station is the common terminus of two shinkansen lines: the Tokaido line and the Sanyo line.
The Tokaido goes north and east and the Sanyo connects Osaka with Fukuoka in Kyushu (in the south part of Japan).
I know, a lot of new words / places to learn. (See the map below for details).
But anyways the thought occurred to me that if I get on the non reserved cars (usually cars 1-3) then hey I can easily snap up a window seat. (As long as you line up early you’ll usually nab a window).
Not that an isle seat is the end of the world. 🙂
And so far my Shinkansen jump on, no reserve theory has been working real good.
In some ways, not needing to reserve frees you up.
Then just sit back, enjoy the lean and get to appreciate what hurtling along the earth at around 320 kilometres per hour (220 miles per hour) feels like. (Ever been on an earth rocket?)
Having said all that, sometimes you can reserve yourself a window seat too, which makes sense if you’re on a seriously busy route.
To reserve a seat on the shinkansen just go into pretty much any JR office.
The Japan Rail Pass Is Excellent
This is how I rock with the Japan rail pass:
1. Get yourself to the nearest ‘large’ station
2. Look for signs pointing to shinkansen (the one going the way you want)
3. Present your Japan rail pass as you go through turnstiles
4. Go to cars 1 to 3 and when the doors open walk on
5. Get off when you’re at your destination (or wherever you want)
The Japan rail pass looks like this:
Guard it with your life 🙂
Or at least treat it like you would your passport.
It is particularly useful if you plan to explore many different areas of Japan over your stay. I snaffled the 14 day rail pass (you can get a 7 or a 21 day as well).
And dare I say your boy Hurley has already blasted from Osaka to Hakata to Kagoshima and to Hiroshima. (And back to Osaka again).
For visual learners, here’s where those names (in red) are on the map:
That shinkansen space ship certainly is convenient! (Australia you’d dig a bullet train like this).
How cool is it when you have people like Hideo Shima (the Chief Engineer) and Shinji Sogo, the first President of Japanese National Railways (JNR) who had the vision to start construction of the first shinkansen.
Food For Thought
Accomodation running scarce in the city you’re in? Looks a little rainy? Too much snow on the ground? Jump on the shinkansen and wake up to a whole new Japan-experience.
What Is This Kagoshima Place Anyway?
Ah Kagoshima. Ignore the fact there is an active volcano (Sakurajima) within rock flying distance which occasionally blows its top. (2016 was the last one they tell me).
The Kagoshima bayside city is surreal and the port area interesting to explore. Ferries to Sakurajima are about a ten minute walk from Kagoshima-Chuo station. Or jump aboard the abundant trams.
Note to self: if you jump on a local bus be prepared to be charged per distance you travel. In the middle of nowhere and 700 yen later your boy Hurley understood this.
Basically in Japan it pays to always have cash on you. 🙂
I found the Kagoshima accommodation a bit tricky to get… but I didn’t book ahead or use AirBnB for this one.
Note to self: always use AirBnB or book ahead.
After asking at two different hotels I found a nice place with a flashpacker room right behind the Kagoshima-Chuo station with views, and all the mod cons.
Who doesn’t like views, right?
Wifi was a bit intermittent though – you’ll need to ‘find’ the signal now and then. Around 5300 yen / night.
Here’s some of the snaps I took in Kagoshima:
You might want to take a few good days to walk around (or cycle) to explore the diversity of Kagoshima.
Here’s What I Recommend
Here’s what I recommend you do:
1. Get a JR Rail Pass (details how to do that here)
2. Book ahead using AirBnB or Booking.com 🙂
3. Get around Japan and explore
4. Spend some time exploring Kagoshima. Take the ferry to Sakurajima.*
5. Comment below and tell me about YOUR Japanese adventure!
6. You’ll get the hang of how the Japanese subway system works!
* Re Sakurajima: If you hear sirens it’s likely just the locals practicing their earthquake / volcanic eruption drills. (But if it’s not a drill, run.)
Hope you enjoyed my shinkansen Osaka to Kagoshima Japan adventure.
Kagoshima is definitely worthwhile to visit and explore. Don’t expect much of a cafe scene like you might find in Osaka though. It’s a whole different kettle of fish down there.
Of course, you can always get off on any of those shinkansen stops on the way. And for more of Japan have a peek at my Japan Instagram pics here.
And remember, at the end of the day you make your own adventure!
Be a little better today than you were yesterday. Repeat.
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