Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Tanegashima - The Rocket Launch Site, Sightseeing Spots And Cuisine
Written by MATCHA-PR
Tanegashima Island, located to the south of Kagoshima Prefecture, may be famous for the rocket launch site, but it also has many appealing sightseeing spots and unique cuisine all of its own.
Tanegashima Island, located south of Kagoshima Prefecture, is famous for its rocket launching site. But the island also has unique sightseeing spots as well, with a wide variety of fine local dishes.
This article is about the many appeals of Tanegashima Island.
1. Tanegashima Space Center
The first spot we highly recommend is the Tanegashima Space Center. On days of rocket launches, space enthusiasts from all over Japan gather on the island.
A model of a rocket welcomes the visitors, and a museum is also located at this site.
The Space Museum displays various materials, such as the propulsion sytem of a rocket and the handprints of Japanese astronauts.
A Guided Tour of the Facilities
With advance reservations, visitors can enjoy a tour of the facilities. The participants will be moving around the expansive site on a bus, and even approach the launch pad. They will also be able to see the rocket components and the control center. This is the only site in Japan that offers such kind of a tour.
For further details, take a look at this website. The tour guide will be speaking only Japanese, so bring your Japanese friend along, or consult with a travel agency.
Tanegashima Space Center
Address: Kagoshima, Kumage, Minami-tanecho, Kukinaga, Matsu
Website: Tanegashima Space Center
2. Teppokan Gun Museum
The Teppokan Gun Museum is a must-visit spot.
Western firearms first arrived in Japan at Tanegashima. At Teppokan, visitors can learn about its impact, and the history of the firearms in Japan. History buffs will love it.
The guns that arrived from Portugal in 1543, along with various classic firearms, are displayed here. Visitors can also learn about Tanegashima, and how the people lived at the time.
Teppokan Gun Museum
Address: Kagoshima, Nishino-omote, Nishino-omote 7585
Gessoutei was built in the middle of the Edo period. Visitors can spend their time leisurely here while drinking Japanese tea, or by viewing the beautiful Japanese garden.
This is the perfect spot to take a break from sightseeing.
Address: Kagoshima, Nishino-omote, Nishino-omote 7528
Official Site: Gessotei (Japanese)
4. Chikura no Iwaya Cave
Chikura no Iwaya Cave is a unique spot created by the force of nature.
The cave was created by marine erosion over an extensive period of time. It can be entered only at low tide, and various events are held here during a limited period. Visitors can enjoy a fantastic view at this spot.
The view changes with the ebb and flow of the tide. Visitors should check the tides in advance, as the best view is that of the ocean from inside the cave.
Chikura No Iwaya Cave
Address: Kagoshima, Kumage, Minami-tanecho, Hirayama, Hirota
Telephone: +81-997-26-1111 (Minami-tanecho Office, Tourism Section)
5. Colony of Wild Tree Ferns at Ota Rindo
Hego (tree ferns) is a rare tropical plant, which can be seen in Tanegashima and Okinawa.
At Ota Rindo (woodland path) in Tanegashima, there is a colony of wild tree ferns rising high along the road, which makes you feel like you've wandered deep into a forest.
The sight of the tree ferns towering over the visitors' heads is truly impressive.
Some tree fern rises up to four meters tall, so the powerful sight is worth a look.
Colony of Wild Tree Ferns
Address: Kagoshima, Nishino-omote
6. Hirota Site Museum
The Hirota Site Museum is located near the Tanegashima Space Center.
Hirota Site is the remains of an ancient cemetery. It seems to have been used from the late Yayoi Period (*1), when rice farming started in Japan, to 7th century A.D. About 160 sets of human bones and 44 thousand artifacts made from shells have been excavated at this site.
Due to its unique location and artifacts, the site was designated as a National Historic site on March 28, 2008.
*1: The Yayoi Period is said to be dated from the middle of the 3rd century B.C. to the middle of the 3rd century A.D. Please note that the opinions are divided about the date.
The site is located by the sea.
The exhibits show how the people lived at the time, and how they were buried.
Hirota Site Museum
Address: Kagoshima, Kumage, Minami-tanecho, Hirayama 2571
7. Kishigazaki Lighthouse
Kishigazaki Lighthouse is located on the northernmost tip of Tanegashima. The Pacific Ocean can be seen from the northeastern side of the lighthouse. On a clear day, it is said that the Osumi Peninsula of Kagoshima can be seen from here as well.
Visitors can play on the beach below the lighthouse.
Address: Kagoshima, Nishino-omote, Kunigami
Must-Eat Dishes in Tanegashima
Here are some of the dishes that can be enjoyed only in Tanegashima.
Anno Imo (sweet potato) are produced only in Tanegashima. The potato cultivation started after the Second World War, when soldiers returning from the the island of Sumatra brought back potatoes with them. It was first cultivated in the Anno distrct of Tanegashima.
The texture of this potato softens after it is roasted, and the sugar content doubles to twice the number of a raw potato. The Anno Imo and the Murasaki Imo (purple sweet potato) are the two famous brands of Tanegashima potatoes.
Shochu Beverages Made from Anno Imo
Anno Imo is also used for making shochu (Japanese spirits).
They can be purchased at shops on the island, and a tour of the shochu factory is also available to visitors.
This is a crab that is caught in the waters near Tanegashima, called "Asahi gani" by the local residents. The fishing season opens in November, and it has become a popular wintertime dish on the island.
In Japan, abalone (called "Nagarame" in Tanegashima) is often used for sashimi dishes. It is firm when bitten, and cooked with miso at Tanegashima.
Niga-take (Japanese timber bamboo) grows naturally in Tanegashima. Although the word "niga" means "bitter taste" in Japanese, Niga-take doesn't taste so bitter. With a rather sweet taste, it is cooked as a tempura dish or usually stir-fried. Niga-take has a crisp texture, so it is also often used as a garnish on other dishes.
The best season for Niga-take is from tsuyu (rainy season) to autumn. If you plan to visit Tanegashima in this period, give it a try.
Address: Kagoshima, Kumage, Minami-tanecho, Nakano-kami 2853-5
Website: Restaurant Kuroshio (Japanese)
Ingee dori is a chicken raised only at Tanegashima. The legend goes that the local residents helped the English people who drifted ashore, and received what turned out to be the ancestor of the Ingee chicken. The English people were called "Ingee" at the time, so the chicken was named after them. The delicious Ingee chicken has a firm texture, which gets better with chewing.
Kagoshima Prefecture is famous for its kurobuta (black pigs). It is a high quality pork, with an elegant taste.
At Tanegashima, the black pigs are called Anno Kurobuta, as they are raised with Anno Imo. The juicy pork has a sweet taste, reminiscent of the Anno Imo.
Address: Kagoshima, Kumage, Minami-tanecho, Hirayama 500-130
Website: Shimayado Hope (Japanese)
Tanegashima is famous as a surfing spot, so surfers from all over Japan comes to visit, or even move to the island. The burger shop "Tanegashima Burgers" was founded by one such a person. The various burgers sold at the shop are collectively called Tanegashima burgers.
Local materials, such as the flying fish caught off Tanegashima, tomatoes and onions grown on the island, are used in the burgers. This shop has become popular with both the local residents and visitors.
All the burgers are fresh, as they are made upon order. This shop is the only burger shop on the island.
Address: Kagoshima, Nishino-omote, Nishino-omote 16035
Website: Tanegashima Burgers (Japanese)
Tanegashima Basic Information
Address: Kagoshima, Nishino-omote/ Naka-tanecho/ Minami-tanecho
Access: Thirty-five minute flight from Kagoshima Airport
Telephone: +81-997-23-0111 (Tanegashima Tourist Association)
Official Site: Tanegashima Tourist Association (Japanese)
Tanegashima Sightseeing Map