Not many hotels can lay a claim to a direct link to Japan’s last true samurai. But Hotel Shiroyama can.
In fact, the high plateau on which the hotel was built – one that offers stunning views of Kagoshima City and the active volcano of Mt. Sakurajima – was once the home of Takamori Saigo: a native son of Kagoshima, a cultural figure whose influence remains strong to this day, and the inspiration for Ken Watanabe’s unforgettable character Katsumoto in the film The Last Samurai.
While the noble Takamori’s story came to an end at the Battle of Shiroyama, he is finding a new life on the small screen next January, in NHK’s night drama Saigo Don. In preparation for this upcoming celebration of the former resident of Hotel Shiroyama’s grounds, the hotel is marking the occasion with exhibitions throughout the hotel.
And, this is far from the Hotel Shiroyama’s only brush with history: the Imperial Family stays here every time they visit Kagoshima, and countless other politicians, diplomats, and executives have chosen to stay at this storied, elegant location. Read on to find out more about what brings so many people to Hotel Shiroyama, and why they continue to come back year after year.
Onsen with a Volcano View
The hotel’s open-air spa onsen provides healing, mineral-rich waters for relaxation as well as relief of ailments such as joint pain, muscle stiffness, poor circulation, and general fatigue. The hot spring looks out across Kagoshima, offering superb views of the city as well as Sakurajima island, making your bathing experience even more satisfying. There’s also an indoor spa, a relaxation room, and an ion sauna where steam from a hot spring buried 1,000m below ground helps your body detox and leaves you with smooth and supple skin. For an extra charge, guests are also welcome to book a private soak in the Chartered bath, a luxurious onsen with a pretty courtyard view.
An Inhouse Microbrewery
The art of making liquor goes back generations in Kagoshima, so it may not be too surprising to find a micro beer brewery tucked away on the site of a hotel in the area. Established in 1998, the Shiroyama Brewery – which is located within Hotel Shiroyama – is a small but neat addition to the region’s proud tradition for making fine brews. The brewery’s manager has traveled the world not only to secure the best equipment – which is imported from Canada – but also to ensure your experience when visiting is complete: you can marvel at his encyclopedic grasp of the world’s beers while enjoying a tasting on site. Some of the award-winning beers you can look forward to here include the Belgian white ale, which owes its refreshing taste to the use of Sakurajima mandarins, and a fruity pale ale infused with tea and loquat leaves.
Exquisite Satsuma Kiriko (Cut Glass)
Visitors to Hotel Shiroyama would be remiss if they did not find time to visit the hotel’s cut glass boutique. There, a fine selection of the region’s pottery and glassware can be enjoyed – and purchased. Production of Satsuma Kiriko (Satsuma cut glass) – such as crystal glasswares and glass sheets – in the area began in the 19th century, thanks to the patronage of Shimazu Narioki, a feudal lord with a love of fine glassware. He invited glassmakers from Edo (present day Tokyo) to practice their work around Kagoshima. These artisans had learned many of their techniques from foreign sources, thanks to the influx of Western learning through trade based around the port of Nagasaki. After a few generations of refinement, the characteristic qualities of Satsuma Kiriko had emerged: extraordinarily detailed facets cut into surfaces with the precision of a jeweler and bold color patterns created from the use of overlaid glass of varying hues.
Eleven restaurants are available in the hotel including the vast breakfast hall, which offers both Western and Japanese food. We recommend the European inspired Holt garden restaurant. Known locally for its buffet, Holt serves 50 kinds of globally-inspired cuisine. During lunch, the restaurant offers dishes from Korea, Thailand, Italy, India and dozens of other countries. For dinner, Holt’s chefs go all out, making a total of 80 dishes and unlimited drinks available for patrons. Explore the hotel further and you will discover a dedicated sushi bar, a Cantonese restaurant serving sumptuous Chinese food, and a Japanese restaurant set in the surroundings of a traditional garden. Next to the lobby a casual coffee lounge offers American-style sandwiches and Japanese favorites, making it the perfect place to plan your day out in Kagoshima.
How to Get There
For a business meeting, a family holiday or a romantic break, the scale and variety of Hotel Shiroyama offers something for almost any budget. Traveling to Hotel Shiroyama is easy thanks to close proximity to Kagoshima airport and direct trains to Osaka and beyond via the recently-completed high-speed Kyushu Shinkansen. The hotel also runs a shuttle bus that connects to Kagoshima-Chuo Station (Central Station) and downtown Tenmonkan. The bus runs every 30 minutes and is very convenient for those who want to explore the many restaurants, hot springs and sightseeing areas, or need to connect to Kagoshima airport.
Hotel Shiroyama Kagoshima