Speaking of sightseeing in the Nansatsu (南薩) area, you might think of Ibusuki or Chiran, but there are many other places to see.
Enjoy your drive!
1. Tea fields in Ei (頴娃) town
Tea fields extend over the Aoto (青戸) area and Orio (折尾) area. These areas have gentle hills and good weather which is suitable for growing tea trees. The view of green tea fields that look like drawn lines reaches off into the distance.
Minami-Kyushu city (南九州市) was born by incorporating the three towns of Ei (頴娃), Chiran (知覧) and Kawanabe (川辺) in 2007. Both Ei town and Chiran town used to lead Japan in the production of green tea, and both towns are now in Minami-Kyushu city, so the city has the biggest production of green tea in Japan, now.
Drive through the green tea fields, and continue driving towards the sea, to the town center of Ei, and the Yutori-kan will come into view.
Yutori-kan is a shop where you can get local products. You can taste green tea there, and it is really mild and tasty. This shop is also famous for a buffet lunch.
Fee: Adults 900 yen / School children 500 yen / Infants (3 years old and above) 300 yen
All you can eat for 1 hour (including soft drinks, coffee and tea)
The menu changes to an izakaya (Japanese style bar) menu from 17:00.
３．Kamafuta Shrine (竃蓋神社)
This shrine is famous as one of the places thought to be flowing with mystical energy in Japan. The shrine is located at a place that can be a bit difficult to find, but there are always visitors from various places all over Japan, so just keep looking and you’ll get there.
This place has a great view, too. The shrine is built on a small headland pushing out over the sea, and the contrast of sea blue and sky blue, the green color of the bush behind the shrine and the red color of the shrine itself is beautiful!
In addition, you can see Kaimon-dake (開聞岳) over the blue sea on the left side of the shrine!
People say that the actual place thought to be flowing with mystical energy is “Kibo-no Misaki (希望の岬)” behind the shrine over the bush, and the view of Kaimon-dake from there is also very beautiful!
“Kamafuta” means “a pot lid”. It is said that if you balance a pot lid on your head and walk from the torii gate to the offertory chest, your wish will be granted, but it is quite difficult. The wooden pot lid is quite heavy and it isn’t very stabile on top of a round human head, so it tends to slip off. But, if you try hard, the shrine god might accept your wish. Trust yourself and try hard, you might succeed!
There are more things to enjoy at this shrine. There is a picture of a dragon on the ceiling. It is said that if you take a photo of the dragon, the ball in its hand looks sparkling in the picture. If you want to visit the shrine, make sure you take your camera.
And, on the left side of the shrine, little pot lid-shaped clay works are sold for 100 yen each. (Nobody is there. Put the fee into the slot near the clay works.) If you can throw the clay works into the pot at the bottom of the cliff on the right side of the shrine, your wish will be granted, too.
We will introduce more about Nansatsu such as another place where you can see Kaimon-dake, Somen-nagashi (fine white noodles served flowing in water) and Kagoshima’s southernmost station: All in Part Ⅱ!