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The Japanese island of Tanegashima lies approximately 43 kilometres south of the Osumi Peninsula’s southern tip.
Tanegashima is primarily renowned for two things. It is where firearms were first introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th Century and it is now home to the most advanced space facility in the country. It also boasts a stunning natural landscape, so there’s something for everyone on this fascinating island.
In fact, towards the north is a wonderful exhibition called the Kaihatsu Sogo Center which displays the first firearm ever made in Japan, the ‘Tanegashima teppo gun’. A celebration of the weapon is held each year, during which matchlock guns are fired and the streets become filled with large floats and parades.
However, what lures most holidaymakers are the vast stretches of pristine beachline and excellent surf breaks, most of which can be found along the east coast where you can also snorkel with sea turtles. The coastline’s standout feature is the Chikura Cavern, an enormous stone cave floored with gorgeous white sand which can be further explored at low tide.
The space development facility sits in the southeast corner and is a must see for any science enthusiasts. You can learn all about the incredible history of Japanese space exploration and how to assemble spacecraft, making it one of the island’s more unique attractions.
There are frequent crossings from the nearby island of Yakushima to Nishinoomote on the northwest coast, as well as from Ibusuki and Kagoshima on the Japanese mainland.