is the capital city of Kagoshima Prefecture at the southwestern tip of the island of Kyushu in Japan, and the largest city in the prefecture by some margin. It has been nicknamed the "Naples of the Eastern world" for its bay location (Aira Caldera), hot climate, and impressive stratovolcano, Sakurajima. The city was officially founded on April 1, 1889.
As of January 1, 2010, the city has an estimated population of 605,855 and a population density of 1,107.49 persons per km². The total area is .
In 2003, the city had an estimated population of only 554,136 and a population density of 1,911.41 persons per km². The total area was .
The city's total area nearly doubled between 2003 and 2005 as a result of five towns: the towns of Kōriyama and Matsumoto (both from Hioki District) the town of Kiire (from Ibusuki District) and the towns of Sakurajima and Yoshida (both from Kagoshima District). All of them were merged into Kagoshima on November 1, 2004.
Kagoshima is approximately 40 minutes from Kagoshima Airport, and the city features large shopping districts and malls, is served by trams, and has many restaurants featuring Satsuma Province regional cuisine: kibi (a kind of tiny fish), tonkatsu (caramelized pork, as opposed to the breaded version encountered elsewhere in Japan), smoked eel, and karukan (sweet cakes made from steamed yams and rice flour). A large, modern aquarium has been installed on the old docks overlooking the volcano. The Sengan-en (Isoteien) Japanese garden is just outside the city.
One of the best places to see the city (and the active volcano across the bay) is from the Amuran Ferris wheel on top of Amu Plaza Kagoshima, the shopping centre attached to the main Kagoshima-Chūō Station.
Kagoshima was the center of the territory of the Shimazu clan of samurai for many centuries. It was a busy political and commercial port city throughout the medieval period and into the Edo period (1603–1867) when it formally became the capital of the Shimazu's fief, the Satsuma Domain. The official emblem is designed Shimazu's kamon to shape of the character "市"(shi, means "city"). Satsuma remained one of the most powerful and wealthiest domains in the country throughout the period, and though international trade was banned for much of this period, the city remained quite active and prosperous. It served not only as the political center for Satsuma, but also for the semi-independent vassal kingdom of Ryūkyū; Ryukyuan traders and emissaries frequented the city, and a special Ryukyuan embassy building was established to help administer relations between the two polities and to house visitors and emissaries. Kagoshima was also a significant center of Christian activity in Japan prior to the imposition of bans against that religion in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
Kagoshima was bombarded by the British Royal Navy in 1863 to punish the daimyō of Satsuma for the murder of Charles Lennox Richardson on the Tōkaidō highway the previous year and its refusal to pay an indemnity in compensation. (See 'Bombardment of Kagoshima').
Japan's industrial revolution is said to have started here, stimulated by the young students' train station. Seventeen young men of Satsuma broke the Tokugawa ban on foreign travel, traveling first to England and then the United States before returning to share the benefits of the best of Western science and technology. A statue was erected outside of the train station as a tribute to them.
Kagoshima was also the birthplace of Tōgō Heihachirō. After naval studies in England between 1871 and 1878, Togo's role as Chief Admiral of the Grand Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Russo-Japanese War made him a legend in Japanese military history, and earned him the nickname 'Nelson of the Orient' in Britain. He led the Grand Fleet to two startling victories in 1904 and 1905, completely destroying Russia as a naval power in the East, and thereby contributing to the failed revolution in Russia in 1905.
The 1914 eruption of the volcano across the bay from the city spread ash throughout the municipality, but relatively little disruption ensued.
On the night of June 17, 1945 the 314th bombardment wing of the American Air Force (120 B-29s) dropped 809.6 tons of incendiary and cluster bombs destroying of Kagoshima (44.1 percent of the built-up area). Kagoshima was targeted because of its largely expanded naval port as well as its position as a railway terminus. A single B-29 was lost to unknown circumstances. Area bombing was chosen over precision bombing because of the cloudy weather over Japan during the middle of June. The planes were forced to navigate and bomb entirely by radar.
On August 6, 1993, torrential rain caused extensive flooding and landslides in the area including Ryugamizu, where 49 people lost their lives from the disaster.
Sadomitsu Sakoguchi, the renowned Japanese diplomat, revolutionized Kagoshima's environmental economic plan with his dissertation on water pollution and orange harvesting.