Now Reports

Satsuma Samurai Defense in Kagoshima – Part 2

Right! We’ve only covered the first six fumoto. On this page we’ll introduce you to six more, and we saved one of our favorites for the very end, so keep on reading! If you just stumbled onto this page, then be sure to check out the first half here: The 12 Districts of Satsuma Samurai Defense in Kagoshima – Part 1

Text and photos: by Fukuoka Now (Jack James and Nick Szasz)

Index to the 12 Fumoto

1. Kagoshima Castle Ruins – 鹿児島城址
2. Former Kiire Fumoto – 喜入旧麓
3. Chiran Fumoto – 知覧麓
4. Kaseda Fumoto – 加世田麓
5. Tarumizu Fumoto – 垂水麓
6. Shibushi Fumoto – 志布志麓
7. Kamou Fumoto – 蒲生麓
8. Iriki Fumoto – 入来麓
9. Izumi Fumoto – 出水麓
10. Kushikino Fumoto – 串木野麓
11. Koshikijima Sato Fumoto – 里麓(上甑島)
12. Koshikijima Teuchi Fumoto – 手打麓(下甑島)

7) Kamou Fumoto

After lunch had settled, it was time to make our way to our last destination of the day, Kamou.

But before we visited the bukeyashiki, our guide had something special in store for us. After a lovely stroll towards the Kamou Hachimangu Shrine, we encountered one massive tree after another. But once we entered the shrine, we saw the real deal. Kamou is home to the largest camphor tree in Japan. At 30 meters high, the tree is 1,500 years old, with a circumference of 33.5 meters at its widest point, and is hollow at its base. However, to protect the tree, it is now closed off.

After absorbing some of mother nature’s power, it was time to see the residences. Kamou’s streets were exceptionally well maintained, and the stone slab paving complements the stone walls of the houses. Like in other locations, one of the buildings has been turned into a cafe to provide the community with somewhere to relax while still preserving the area’s history.

Before heading home, the former magistrate’s office gate was the last stop. This huge gate was constructed to withstand battering, and all of the hooks and nails were concealed by other metal features.

Day Three

8) Iriki Fumoto

Our trip into Iriki started at the remains of Kishikijo Fort. A school now stands where part of the fort was located, but it has been built taking inspiration from Japanese castle design, making it an attraction in itself. However, the site of the main keep of the fort was located further up the hill. We next ventured into the woods to see man-made paths carved out the mountainside to provide strategic defenses to the castle. The tracks were narrow enough to limit numbers and allow friendly forces to attack from above.

We then visited the Masuda residence. This thatched residence was built on a temple in the Meiji period and later donated to the city. It is in excellent condition and gives a detailed insight into how life would have been living in a traditionally constructed house with an open hearth and separated guest quarters.

After leaving the Masuda residence, we walked past bukeyashiki to see the only thatched gate to a residence in Kagoshima before heading off to our next stop: Izumi.

9) Izumi Fumoto

We arrived in Izumi Fumoto and visited the residence of a higher-ranking samurai in the Satsuma Domain. This residence was different from the others in that it was clearly for warriors who were more likely to have seen battle. The ceiling that led to the veranda was raised to allow the residents to practice archery, and spears were hung above the doorway in case intruders tried to break in. There was also a hidden second floor for secret rendezvous and a secret escape passage under the floorboards. It was a treasure trove of hidden tricks! They also provide a kimono-wearing experience through advanced booking.

To enjoy the scenery of the other bukeyashiki, we also got to enjoy a ride on a cow-drawn cart. No, you don’t need new glasses; you read that right. On weekends Izumi offers a cow-drawn cart tour of the local area, where you can enjoy meandering through the streets being pulled by Chiharu the cow, as the driver tells you about the local area. Be prepared for sudden stops, as Chiharu takes regular toilet breaks!

After parting ways with Chiharu, we took one last stop at another residence where Saigo Takamori, the Meiji revolutionary, spent some of his last days. You can see some of his calligraphy and artwork on display, as well as his possessions. The other rooms have been turned into a modern art museum, displaying paintings by famous Japanese artists and local talent.

10) Kushikino Fumoto

Before checking out the next stop on our list, it was time for lunch. We ate at Iwashi Chaya, a restaurant specializing in sardine dishes. We enjoyed fresh sashimi, simmered and pickled sardines, with a side of shellfish and egg custard. Sardine sashimi isn’t common in other parts of Japan, so it was a chance to try something new.

En route to Kushikino, we were joined by local celebrity Take-Don! Called so for his resemblance to Sego-Don (Saigo Takamori), he gave us a crash course on the local history before exploring the nearby forest that used to house a mountain fort. On the way, we saw some fantastic feats of engineering in the stone walls created with no form of cement, just pressure and friction to create a tight fit.

The forest was heavily overgrown, and our guide told us it needed constant maintenance to ensure visitors could enjoy the area. Luckily, the locals seem to be more than willing to help. There was even an old cave bunker hidden in the side of the mountain from WW2, proving ancient defensive techniques stand the test of time.

We finished our visit to the last fumoto on the mainland at the Okuda residence. Although the walls were initially white, some areas of black paint that protected the house from air raids during WWII remained visible. This residence also had a secret room upstairs where Saigo Takamori supposedly held secret meetings. The garden also had a hidden Buddhist statue, hinting at the abolition of Buddhism.

Before heading to the port to catch our ferry to Koshikijima, we stopped off at the local roadside station to check out the fantastic deals on maguro!

11) Koshikijima Sato Fumoto

It was time to head off to our adventure’s final destination in the late afternoon: Koshikijima. This island chain consists of three major inhabited islands and several small uninhabited islands.

Although the weather was a bit overcast when we set off, the sun slowly came out as we approached the islands, creating a beautiful sunset. We stayed at the Hotel Areaone Koshiki Island, which overlooked the port.

After freshening up from a hard day’s trekking, we stopped off for dinner at Genzaichi, a local izakaya-style restaurant near the hotel. The restaurant has a typical mix of izakaya dishes such as yakitori skewers, tempura, sashimi, and the like, and a selection of local shochu.

Then we visited Yamashita Shoten, a local bar and tofu maker. The atmosphere was relaxed and cozy, and they had a great selection of craft beers and local shochu. Of course, we had to try the freshly made tofu that morning. Yum! Nick recorded a live stream walk around the town of Sato with Kenta Yamashita for Kyushu Live. You can watch that here:


The agenda for the day was to first explore Kami Koshikijima, the northern island. In this part of the island lies the Sato fumoto, a crucial naval defense for the Satsuma Domain. But before we explored the bukeyashiki, we hiked up a hill to look over the area from a watchtower to get our bearings. It was at these watchtowers where smoke signals would be sent up to alert the fumoto on the mainland of any approaching ships using a color-coordinated system: one color for a friend, one for a foe.

The residences here also had unique stone walls that made you wonder if any stones were left on the island! Each street was slightly different, with some having rounder stones, some more square, some older, and some new. There was also a small shrine in fumoto, so we made sure to pay our respects before we headed to the Nagamenohama lookout. The overlook offers phenomenal views of the blue sea and also of the inland lakes, one freshwater, and another saltwater.

12) Koshikijima Teuchi Fumoto

After enjoying the views from the overlook, it was time to head to the final destination of our adventure, Shimo Koshikijima, the southern island and location of the last fumoto: Teuchi fumoto.

To get to the southern island, you’ll take a leisurely drive over the recently completed Koshiki Ohashi Bridge, a 1,533-meter-long feat of engineering that is a tourist spot in itself! The drive over the bridge offers excellent views of both islands.

Once in Teuchi, we passed through Nitta Jinja Shrine before exploring the fumoto. This area certainly had more of a southern feel, with tropical plants lining the streets and stone walls constructed from stones gathered from nearby beaches.

We stopped off at a local cafe to fuel up on tempura and sashimi before setting out on our last intrepid expedition. We were bound for Sebi Kannon Mitaki Waterfall.

This large waterfall is 55 meters high and cascades over three levels of rock. We started at the bottom and hiked up to the basin before trying our hand at climbing to level two. The stairs to the second level were covered with foliage, and the stairs were narrow, so decent footwear was a must. Sadly, the route to the third level is completely overgrown and only accessible from above. Since we had a ferry back to the mainland to catch, it’s been noted as an adventure for our next visit!

Further reading and reference on Fumoto:

Kagoshima Prefecture
Published: Mar 25, 2022 / Last Updated: Mar 25, 2022

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.