Welcome to Kagoshima City, the capital of Kagoshima Prefecture and one of the larger cities in Kyushu. It is often called “The Naples of Japan” because of the volcano Mt. Sakurajima, warm weather, and proximity to the bay. It makes perfect sense why it would be a sister city with Naples, Italy. Not only that, it is also “related” to Miami and Perth. Compared to its sisters, Kagoshima City is definitely the kid sister in terms of size, with a population of around 600,000. While it may be dwarfed by cities like Tokyo, or even Fukuoka in northern Kyushu, Kagoshima is not without its own charms. So, sit back and soak in one of the many hot springs (onsen 温泉), while sipping on some locally distilled Japanese vodka (shochu 焼酎), and admire the view.
JETs living in the city are in for a unique experience of their own. For starters, the ability to easily access shopping, sightseeing, transportation and other expats is often a highly coveted aspect of city life. Alternatively, countryside (inaka 田舎) teachers may have a more immersive experience and higher level of Japanese. It’s not rare that city JETs often find themselves having difficulty to break away from this setting. It may be that there is value in sharing experiences, both good and bad, with those who have had or are having similar experiences. However, some city JETs find themselves coveting the immersion that many countryside JETs are experiencing.
Keep in mind that in the city, JETs may be less of a rarity because there are more expats roaming the streets. There are typically more than 30 JETs living in the city, alongside many other foreigners. People might still gawk and openly talk about you in Japanese, but they are less likely to approach and introduce themselves. Don’t let this discourage you. A simple greeting will often be returned and more often than not, you’ll be pulled into a conversation about where you’re from and what brought you to the area. If you are shy to greet strangers on the street, school is a great place to start.
To get the most out of the city, we recommend the following as you explore and get to know Kagoshima City…
Establish yourself within your expat community and remember that you can always come back to it should you step away. Engage with the culture and language that is at your toes. The city has a lot of events, exhibits and festivals throughout the year that should be experienced. There are also many options for language study, privately or in a group setting with other expats. Reflect on what you’ve enjoyed and want to explore further and what you can live without. You get out what you put in. In the end, make it your own.