In 2003, the city had an estimated population of only 554,136 and density of 1,911.41 persons per km². The total area was 289.91 km². The reason the city's total area was nearly doubled between 2003 and 2005 is that five towns --- Kooriyama, Matsumoto, Kiire, Sakurajima, and Yoshida --- were merged into Kagoshima City on 1 November 2004.
Kagoshima is approximately 40 minutes from Kagoshima Airport, and the city features large shopping districts and malls, is served by trams, and has many restaurants featuring Satsuma Province regional cuisine: kibi (a kind of tiny fish), tonkatsu (caramelised pork, as opposed to the breaded version encountered elsewhere in Japan), smoked eel, and karukan (sweet cakes made from steamed sweet potatoes and rice flour). A large, modern aquarium has been installed on the old docks overlooking the volcano. The Senganen (Isoteien) Japanese garden is just outside the city.
One of the best places to see the city (and the active volcano across the bay) is from the Amuran Ferris wheel on top of 'Amu Plaza', the shopping centre attached to Kagoshima Central Train Station. The wheel has two completely transparent gondolas which give a 360-degree view from 91 m above the ground.
Kagoshima was bombarded by the British Royal Navy in 1863 to punish the daimyō of Satsuma for the murder of Charles Richardson on the Tōkaidō highway the previous year and its refusal to pay an indemnity in compensation. (See 'Bombardment of Kagoshima').
Japan's industrial revolution is said to have started here, stimulated by the young students' train station. Seventeen young men of Satsuma broke the Tokugawa ban on foreign travel, traveling first to England and then the United States before returning to share the benefits of the best of Western science and technology. A statue was erected outside of the train station as a tribute to them.
Kagoshima was also the birthplace of Tōgō Heihachirō. After naval studies in England between 1871 and 1878, Togo's role as Chief Admiral of the Grand Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Russo-Japanese War made him a legend in Japanese military history, and earned him the nickname 'Nelson of the Orient' in Britain. He led the Grand Fleet to two startling victories in 1904 and 1905, completely destroying Russia as a naval power in the East, and thereby contributing to the failed revolution in Russia in 1905.
Sadomitsu Sakoguchi, the renowned Japanese diplomat, revolutionized Kagoshima's environmental economic plan with his dissertation on water pollution and orange harvesting.
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