Akune is a city of about 1.7 million people located in Kagoshima, the south of Japan. Situated in the northwest of the prefecture, Akune has flourished since ancient times in commerce and maritime transport as a hub for both land and sea traffic. With over 40 km of beautiful coastline stretching along the East China Sea as well as a wealth of mountains, this is a city where people and nature coexist together.
A district of spectacular scenery facing the East China Sea, Wakimoto can be found in the northern part of Akune. One of the Three Great Rapid Tides of Japan, the Kuronoseto Strait is renowned as a fishing mecca, and at the Wakimoto Swimming Area, where a shallow and broad white sand beach extends 3 km along the sea, surfing can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Agriculture flourishes in this mild climate, so garden crops like green peas, broad bean, and Japanese winter squash as well as citruses like dekopon mandarins and amanatsu oranges are all grown here.
Blessed with abundant nature, Wakimoto is also alive with history and culture. In Wakimoto-Uwabara, the Wakimoto Kofun (“Tumulus”) Cluster remains as a precious testament to the Kofun era culture of Kagoshima. Also, owing to work by the preservation society the Yamada-gaku, a local traditional performing art, is being passed down the generations to elementary school students.
This district is a transportation hub, acting as crossroads for National Route 3, which joins Akune with the surrounding area, and National Route 389, which runs along the coast of the East China Sea. While restaurants and leisure facilities line the sections along heavily-trafficked National Route 3, idyllic countryside stretches throughout the eastern side of Orita.
Utilizing the area’s advantages as a logistical base, agricultural goods production has also seen development here in recent years. At the revitalization facilities established in 2014, local agricultural product groups and other parties create processed goods using ingredients from Akune.
The land formed by the rural countryside of Tsurukawauchi and the mountains of the Tashiro area is rich in peaks and valleys. You can bask in the fantastic light of fireflies along the creeks in early summer. The section of Prefectural Highway 46 facing Yokoza Tunnel that connects to Togo-cho in Satsumasendai is called the “road of hydrangeas.” Planted by citizens of the city, the hydrangeas are at their peak around June.
On the fourth Sunday of every month, local agricultural products are sold at the Kwakaranjo Home Town Market, which is held alongside the koiki-nodo (“wide-area agricultural road”). Also in this area, students at Tsurukawauchi Middle School raise clouded salamanders (registered as natural monuments) found in the nearby river, and students at Tashiro Elementary School are accepted into “mountain village homestays.”
Stretching south from Akune Station along National Road 3, Akune’s downtown is the economic, cultural, and educational heart of the city. The area is rich in leisure spots such as parks and hot springs, and a wide variety of events are held throughout the year, including the Shinsen Asaichi (“Fresh Morning Market”) and Eki HALL Live, where live performances are held at Akune Station.
At the Akune fishing port, you’ll get to see the bustle from catches of mackerel, sardine, and horse mackerel pulled straight from the water. There are also popular eateries where you can savor the freshly-caught bounty of the sea. Floating about 2 km off the shore of the coast is Akune Oshima Island. On this island of pine groves, where wild deer wander out to greet you, you can enjoy camping and swimming to your heart’s content.
Going north from Akune Station along National Route 3 is the Akasegawa district, famous for A-Z, a massive 24-hour supermarket. In August of 2015, a local traditional performing art called “Rokushakubo (‘6-foot pole’) Dance” was revived for the first time in 25 years.
Located to the southeast of downtown, Yamashita is famous for producing pomelos and bamboo shoots. Come early summer in these mountain foothills, where even the air refreshes, you’ll be able to gaze upon fireflies as they dance above the clear running waters.
The area is also attractive for the ample number of events that let you get in touch with nature and its seasonal changes. The Evening of Pomelo Scent, Fireflies, and Music is held in May, the Yamashita Wind Festival in November, and the Osaki Iki-iki Festival in December. Other highlights include Takenoko-no-sato, where the massive flowers of the Oga lotus bloom, and Chakurseiran-no-sato, a garden featuring graft-grown orchids that is only open from the end of April to the end of May each year. The beauty of the mountain village flowers and greenery soothes the weary traveler.
South of the city center, Nishime faces both mountain and sea as Route 3 runs through it. The district’s coastline is dotted with fishing harbors and spots for shore fishing, and sea urchin fishery in particular thrives here. The peaceful waters of the Okawashima Swimming Area feature a cove beach where even families with children can swim without worry. You can enjoy a leisurely splash in the sea at this sandy beach, where a magnificent natural panorama extends before your eyes.
The mountain foothill at the other side of the district is a dry-field crop region. The area around the Nishime district’s convention center facilities is much-loved in the district as a famed location for cherry blossoms. In addition, Nishime is home to a factory built by KSK Co., Ltd., a company that manufactures baseball gloves faithfully used by major league players.
Located in Akune’s south, the Okawa district boasts the most scenic section along the Hisatsu Orange Railway and National Route 3, which run along the coast. Designated by the prefecture as a natural monument (place of natural beauty), the Ushinohama Coast is more than anywhere else the representative scenic landscape of Akune. It presents a stunning vista for looking out at the setting sun as it sinks into the East China Sea.
The Old Satsuma Highway, which runs from Ushinohama Station going toward Satsuma-Okawa Station, still has the atmosphere of bygone days and is perfect for a stroll. At Roadside Station Akune along National Route 3, you’ll be able to stop in at restaurants or the souvenir hall, too.
In the mountains, clean and pure streams flow, acting as habitats for fireflies, freshwater shrimp, and Japanese mitten crabs. This is a place of expansive and fertile mountain woodland, where even cress grows naturally.