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A seaside city on Kyushu Island in Aira Caldera (bay), Kagoshima is the capital of the Kagoshima Prefecture known for its active volcano facing Kinko Bay, Sakurajima. You can actually walk the Nagisa Lava Trails that wind through huge boulders and lava fields, if you feel on the adventurous side. The city has been nicknamed the "Naples of the Eastern World" or "Hawaii of Japan" due to the volcano and its hot climate. It was officially founded in 1889. The city is well off the normal tourist beat, but it is a volcanic tropical paradise that is worth exploring.

This is the perfect place to get up close and personal with nature's wrath - a live volcano. Occasionally the trails may be closed due to ash and toxic gas releases, but if you dare to tackle a hike you will experience the ground shaking and hear the earth groaning and rumbling as eruptions happen on a daily basis with giant grey plumes soaring to the heavens. Some of the rivers are so hot that it is possible to indulge in a steam bath by wading out onto the partially submerged rocks.

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Yakushima Island is only a half-day ferry ride away from the city and is where you can gawk at giant cedar trees, dive or snorkel with tropical fish or hike Mount Miyanoura to play with "yaku" monkeys and deer. If you happen to be a bit of a "twitter" with binoculars in tow, then head to the small town of Izumi, which is one of the largest gathering areas for hooded cranes - think 10,000 of the feathered creatures fluttering around.

Kinko Bay holds a Jomon-era archeological site plus a museum recording the earliest human habitation in Japan. For those into a bit of self-indulgence there are the hot sand baths to wallow in up to your neck at the tourist town of Ibusuki, where you can cook your body for as long as you can take it.

This is a city and surrounding area for those looking for that something out of the ordinary to fill in their time between working.

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