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JAPAN Inspiration Gallery 1

Kagoshima

Right down at the tip of Kyushu - the southernmost of Japan's four main islands - is the pleasant port town of Kagoshima. Kyushu's climate and the more mercurial temperamant of its people has led to it being called the Mediterranean of Japan. If that's the case then Kagoshima is most certainly its Naples, with a buzzing Japanese cafe culture and Sakurajima volcano - one of the most active on the Pacific 'ring of fire'. It's quietened down since a big eruption in 1914, but still belches smoke and ash daily. It's an impressive sight and its island can be easily visited by ferry for views down into the crater. Just south of the city, seekers of revitalising minerals can bury themselves in sand on the beach at Ibusuki, with the area also being home to the mainland's keenest surfers. Thanks to the bullet train, the 1,400 km back to Tokyo can be done in less than seven hours, or there are connecting homeward flights.

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The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.

Rudyard Kipling