<My Mini Jeep Experience Story >
Experience the wind (and sometimes volcanic ash) of tropical Kagoshima!-1

<My Mini Jeep Experience Story >
Experience the wind (and sometimes volcanic ash) of tropical Kagoshima!

Mini Jeeps are recommended for people who want to have extra fun traveling around Kagoshima! Just like mopeds, they have 50 cc engines and reach a maximum speed of 60km/h (international driving permit required). Driving down on public roads in the open air surely attracts lots of attention!

Going to MJ Plaza, the mini Jeep rental shop!

MJ Plaza is located in Nanrinji-cho near Kagoshima's busiest shopping area, Tenmonkan.
First, fill out a rental car contract in the shop (advance reservations are recommended).
Next, listen to the explanation on how to operate the mini Jeep. It is a three-speed car without a clutch, but you can drive it easily because it can be operated mostly with the gas pedal and brake.
Once we're ready, off we go!


Mr. Nakagama, the "Mini Jeep Evangelist"-1

Mr. Nakagama, the "Mini Jeep Evangelist"

MJ Plaza is visited by mini Jeep fans from all over Japan. With a full tank of gas, mini Jeeps can travel 80 kilometers, so they can be used not only for driving in Kagoshima City but also for trips around Sakurajima and to Ibusuki. With the dream of "spreading the mini Jeep as a new means of transportation in Kagoshima," MJ Plaza shares the unique ways of enjoying Kagoshima with a mini Jeep.

Going for a drive in the city with my little buddy!

After departing from MJ Plaza, I headed to Tenmonkan, where trams and many cars come and go. Enjoy driving while catching Maruya Gardens, featuring an exterior entirely covered in greenery, and Yamagata-ya with its elegant, magnificent appearance out of the corner of your eye. The bustling area around Yamagata-ya is crowded with many old traditional streets.

Don't forget to check out the popular tourist spots!

Kagoshima is known for Takamori Saigo, the samurai who is said to have inspired the movie The Last Samurai!
The eight-meter tall bronze statue of Takamori Saigo can be called a symbol of Kagoshima. Driving straight in front of the bronze statue of Takamori Saigo, on your left you will see Kagoshima Castle's Goromon Gate, one of the largest castle gates in Japan. The gate was destroyed by fire in 1873 and restored in March 2020, 147 years later.

Relaxing in a small cafe while gazing at the scenery

After driving around the city, I moved to the Meizan neighborhood in front of Kagoshima City Hall. The streets and stores with their retro atmosphere are popular among locals and tourists alike. Here I took a break at HATANAKA COFEE along Minato Odori Park. This store attracts coffee connoisseurs due to its delicious coffee, and recommends a weekly specialty coffee.
[Store information]
6-1 Yasui-cho, Kagoshima City, 892-0815
About a 3-minute walk from the Shiyakusho-mae Dentei tram stop
No parking lot
Hours: 9:30 - 19:00
Closed on Sundays

Buying modern versions of regional sweets as souvenirs

After the coffee break, I parked the mini Jeep and went for a stroll around the Meizan neighborhood. I visited the Retroft Chitose Building, an atmospheric old building that was renovated. Pick up some souvenirs at the Morikazo Store adjoining Noen Shokudo Mori-no-Kazoku. In the store where organic vegetables and processed goods are sold, I found FUKU+RE baked confectioneries, modern versions of Kagoshima's regional sweets. A miniature version of the Kokuhaibukuro, an item unique to Kagoshima that holds volcanic ash from Sakurajima, would make a great present with sweets inside. 

[Store information]
Retroft Chitose Building 1F, 2-1 Meizan-cho, Kagoshima City, 892-0821
About a 2-minute walk from the Asahidori tram stop
No parking lot
Hours: 11:00 - 15:00
Closed on Sundays and Mondays

You'll find interesting shops whenever you turn in the Meizan neighborhood

Next I found the Meizan Genmai Seikatsu 211, a brown rice ball specialty store, while walking down the street. Made using the Special Blend Polyphe Brown Rice®, the flavor of the springy rice balls deepens the more you chew them. They are available with a variety of fillings that are all appealing, such as "five-colored sesame," "chopped plum and shiso leaf," and "cream cheese and shiso leaf."
[Store information]
2-11 Meizan-cho, Kagoshima City, 892-0821
About a 3-minute walk from the Asahidori tram stop
No parking lot
Hours: 11:00 - 18:00 (last order time 17:00)
Closed on Sundays

Finish with a commemorative photo with Sakurajima

After filling my stomach, I drove along the coast and took a commemorative photo with Sakurajima in the background, which is a must when you come to Kagoshima.
At first I was nervous about the mini Jeep, but it had completely won me over by the time I got back to MJ Plaza. 

Locations of the sightseeing spots introduced in this story.

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