Saigō Takamori, an influential Japanese samurai and nobleman who left many achievements in the Meiji Restoration which spanned over 260 years from the Edo Period to the modern-day. He can be found within history books and is so famous that you will seldom find a Japanese person who hasn't heard of him.
Saigō Takamori was actually born in Kagoshima Prefecture, and, as such, there are many locations throughout the prefecture that relate to him. Let's take a look at some of them together including some amazing souvenirs you can take home to commemorate your trip!
Who was Saigō Takamori?
Saigō Takamori was born on the 7th of December, 1828, in the Satsuma Province, Kagoshima Castle, Shitakajiya (currently known as Kajiya, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture). He lead a group of people who took down the Edo shogunate and planned to create a new world in which to live, becoming famous for leaving many achievements behind including the formation of a new Meiji government.
After forming the new government, in 1873, they suffered defeat during the "Seikanron" (1873 political debate on whether Korea should be conquered by military force) and as such, returned home. While private students from Kagoshima were being enlisted within the military force (Satsuma Rebellion (1877)), suffering defeat to the new government and finally, losing his life at 49 in 1877.
Within Kagoshima, he's so loved he actually has a nickname known as "Saigō-don", being well-known to local residents. He can also be called a symbol of Kagoshima.
Saigō Takamori Spot 1 - The Tallest Statue of a Person in Japan! A Must See! - Saigo Park
This park can be found a short 3-minute walk from Kagoshima Airport, making it the perfect first stop on your trip through Kagoshima if you're using the nearby airport. With a gate bearing a close resemblance to Satsuma Han's secondary residence, within the park, you'll find Japan's tallest statue depicting Saigō Takamori standing 10.5 meters tall atop a 5 meter-tall sand, and weighing a whopping 30 tonnes.
Around the stone paving, you'll find 53 Nishiki-e woodblock prints depicting the Satsuma Rebellion (1877). There are also materials regarding various parts of history around Saigō Takamori such as the Meiji Restoration, military uniform, and more allowing you to study to your heart's content. Furthermore, there are a few souvenir stores for you to visit where you can pick up some of Saigō Takamori's favorite sacks "Satsuma-age" and Kagoshima's local confectionary "Karukan".
- Name： Saigo Park
- Address：856-1 Mizobechōfumoto, Kirishima, Kagoshima 899-6404
- Access： Within Walking Distance of Kagoshima Airport
- Holidays： N/A
- Fee： N/A
Saigō Takamori Spot 2 - Saigō Takamori's Deathplace & Saigō Takamori Statue
This is the location where Saigō Takamori spent his final moments during the Satsuma Rebellion (1877). During the rebellion, the government forces bombarded the castle "Shiroyama" found within the center of Kagoshima City. Takamori's forces attempted to retaliate as a final resort. However, Takamori's waist and legs took a bullet, eventually ending his life on the battlefield. The bronze statue which has been erected here was created on the 50th anniversary of his death by a sculptor local to Kagoshima, he was actually the same person who made the famous "faithful dog Hachikō" that can be found in Shibuya, Teru Andō. He is posing in his military uniform with Shiroyama in the background. It is 8 meters tall and is a monument with great visual impact.
- Name： Saigō Takamori's Deathplace & Saigō Takamori Statue
- Address： Shiroyamacho, Kagoshima
- Access：5-minute walk from Kagoshima City View Bus Station
Saigō Takamori Spot 3 - Saigō Takamori Statue
This statue is said to signify when Saigō Takamori suicide by sword after losing the Satsuma Rebellion to the new government. The bronze statue which has been erected here was created on the 50th anniversary of his death by a sculptor local to Kagoshima, he was actually the same person who made the famous "faithful dog Hachikō" that can be found in Shibuya, Teru Andō. He is posing in his military uniform with Shiroyama in the background. It is 8 meters tall and is a monument with great visual impact.
- Name： Saigō Takamori Statue
- Address：4-36 Shiroyamachō, Kagoshima, 892-0853
- Access：8-minute walk from city tram Asahidori Station or Kinseicho Bus Station, Walking Distance from Kagoshima City View Statue of Saigo Takamori Bus Station
Some Recommended Saigō Takamori Themed Souvenirs
After you've explored all of these Saigō Takamori locations, it's time to pick out a souvenir to commemorate your journey! If you head to MIYAGE YOKOCHO which can be found in JR Kagoshima Station, there's a range of souvenirs to choose from.
Recommended Souvenir 1 - Amami Ōshima Salted Chips! - Saigō Don Potato Chips - 120g JPY 399（Tax Inc.）
These potato chips have a design of Saigō Takamori on their bag. The chips are fried and then flavored with Amami Ōshima Salt! They're crunchy and delicious.
Recommended Souvenir 2 - Easy to Eat! - A Staple of Kagoshima - Saigō Rice Crackers 2 Crackers × 4 Bags JPY 540（Tax. Inc）
How about some sweet and easy-to-eat Japanese rice crackers with Saigō Takamori engraved on them? Once you eat them, their egg-like flavor will spread throughout your mouth, and the crunchiness makes you want to eat bite after bite. They have a total length of 16 centimeters each, a perfect snack. They're individually wrapped, so they're perfect to take to school or work and hand out as souvenirs!
※Information is accurate as of April 2021. Information and products shown are subject to change without prior notice.
Kagoshima Souvenir Shop（Confectionnary）
Found in the center of Kagoshima Station, MIYAGE YOKOCHO's Kagoshima Souvenir Shop. There are many local sweets from Kagoshima such as Karukan, Satsumaimo (Sweet Potato), Chiran tea, and more for you to choose from.
Extremely Useful! MIYAGE YOKOCHO & GURUME YOKOCHO in JR Kagoshima Station!
Within JR Kagoshima Station, you'll find many stores that sell products unique to Kagoshima such as TSUKIAGEAN that sells Satsumaage, or Satsuma Jokiya that sells Karukan, among 25 other souvenir stores within MIYAGE YOKOCHO, meaning you're sure to find 1 or 2 souvenirs you like! Furthermore, you can even try some of Kagoshima's famous black pork at a reasonable price at ŌYAMA, or maybe you're more in the mood for some Black Satsuma Chicken at Miyamahonpo? There are many more restaurants to discover here in GURUME YOKOCHO so make sure to look around.
- Spot name：Ekimachi 1-chome Kagoshima MIYAGE YOKOCHO & GURUME YOKOCHO
- Street Address： 890-0053 Kagoshima, Chuocho, １−1
- Access： Walking Distance of JR Kagoshima Central Station
- Time： MIYAGE YOKOCHO 9:00~19:00（Confectionary Store from 8:00~） GURUME YOKOCHO 11:00~21:00（Select Stores from 10:00~）※Information subject to change.
- Holidays： N/A
- Who was Saigō Takamori?
- Saigō Takamori Spot 1 - The Tallest Statue of a Person in Japan! A Must See! - Saigo Park
- Saigō Takamori Spot 2 - Saigō Takamori's Deathplace & Saigō Takamori Statue
- Saigō Takamori Spot 3 - Saigō Takamori Statue
- Some Recommended Saigō Takamori Themed Souvenirs
- Kagoshima Souvenir Shop（Confectionnary）
- Extremely Useful! MIYAGE YOKOCHO & GURUME YOKOCHO in JR Kagoshima Station!