Soo, Kagoshima

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Soo City
Soo City
Flag of Soo
Official seal of Soo
Location of Soo in Kagoshima Prefecture
Location of Soo in Kagoshima Prefecture
Soo is located in Japan
Location in Japan
Coordinates: 31°38′11″N 130°57′40″E / 31.63639°N 130.96111°E / 31.63639; 130.96111Coordinates: 31°38′11″N 130°57′40″E / 31.63639°N 130.96111°E / 31.63639; 130.96111
Country Japan
Region Kyushu
Prefecture Kagoshima Prefecture
 • Total 390.39 km2 (150.73 sq mi)
Population (April 1, 2017)
 • Total 37,038
 • Density 95/km2 (250/sq mi)
 • Tree Cherry Tree
 • Flower Azalea (Tsutsuji
Time zone Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)

Soo (曽於市, Soo-shi) is a city located in northeastern Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. It is near Miyakonojō, Miyazaki.

As of April 2017, the city has an estimated population of 37,038 and a population density of 95 persons per km².[1] This is down from the 2006 population data, which was an estimated population of 43,752 and a population density of 112 persons per km². The total area is 390.39 km². Soo is one of the many small cities in Japan that have a steadily decreasing population.[2]


Much of Soo is mountainous and covered with forest. It rains, but it rarely snows. Soo is located in Kagoshima so it also receives ash from its volcanoes, most notably: Shinmoedake and Sakurajima. Soo is a land-locked city and is in middle of the Osumi Peninsula.


The modern city of Soo was established on July 1, 2005, from the merger of the towns of Ōsumi (Iwagawa), Sueyoshi and Takarabe (all from Soo District).



The closest airport is Kagoshima Airport which is located in Kirishima.


All of Soo had a train system, but due to low use most of it was torn out and paved into a running path. There are three small un-manned train stations in Takarabe (Northern Soo) that connect to trains going to Miyazaki Prefecture and to Kagoshima City. They are: Takarabe Station, Kitamata Station, and Osumi-Okawara Station


There is one bus that travels from Miyakonojo through Soo to Kanoya, and another one that travels to Shibushi.[3]


Like many other places in Kagoshima Prefecture, Soo is home to many narrow mountain roads and so has a high rate of traffic accidents. There is also a few bus routes through Soo. Due to the sparse public transport most people in Soo drive cars.


The Higashi Kyushu Expressway starts at Soo Yagoro in southern Soo. It connects all the way to Expressways in Kumamoto, Miyazaki and Kagoshima City. From Iwagawa (Yogoro entrance) to Sueyoshi it is free. from Sueyoshi on it is a Toll Express Way.


Sueyoshi is famous throughout Japan for producing Yuzu (a citronella). Oosumi is known for its Chinese cabbage and watermelons. Soo City in general also raises black pork and beef which is the local delicacy. Before it closed, the high school in Takarabe was an agriculture school, reflecting the importance of the agriculture industry in the area.


There are 20 Elementary schools, 5 Junior High schools, and 1 High school in Soo City.

Sueyoshi has 9 Elementary schools, 1 Junior High school, and 1 High school. Osumi has 7 Elementary schools and 1 Junior High school. Takarabe has 4 Elementary schools, 1 Junior High school.

Beginning with the 2012–2013 school year, small Jr High schools will be absorbed into the larger schools, resulting in all areas of Soo City having only one Jr High each (Oosumi already went through this process 4 years ago). Takarabe went through this change in 2012.

Currently the Elementary and Jr High schools in the areas of Oosumi and Takarabe are taught by ALT's (Assistant Language Teacher) hired through the JET Programme. The ALT in Sueyoshi is a direct hire. The high school in Soo City is visited by the same ALT from the JET Programme.


There are many points of interest and Festivals that can be visited in Soo City.

Kirihara Falls, Soo City, Iwagawa – September 2011
Iwaya Buddha, Soo City, Iwagawa – September 2011

Yagorou Statue[edit]

In Iwagawa there is the Legend of Yagorou, which is represented by a very tall statue on a hill near the bypass on the way to Kanoya from Miyakonojo. Near the statue is a restaurant, an onsen, and a visitors center. Also near the statue is Oosumi's Michi no Eki where many locally grown foods and teas can be bought.[4] In spring all of the cherry trees on the hill bloom and it is a popular spot to view them.

Yagorou Festival[edit]

Every year on November 3 there are 3 different festivals (Matsuri) dedicated to Yagoroudon. One in Soo (Oosumi), one in Nichinan, and one in Yamanokuchi (both in Miyazaki Prefecture). The town has a smaller statue of Yagorou (just over 4 meters tall) that is pulled from the Hachiman Shrine (八幡神社, Hachiman-jinjya) through town.[5] This festival is called the Yagorou Festival or the Yagorodon Festival.

The mobile statue of Yagorou pulled through Oosumi is the second largest of the three Yagorou festivals. The largest is in Nichinan (just over 7 meters tall), and the smallest is in Yamanokuchi. It is said that there were 3 Yagoroudon brothers, hence the three different locations of festivals (one for each brother).

Ookawara Gorge[edit]

Ookawara Gorge (大川原峡, Ookawara-kyou) has campsites and a little village where cabins can be rented. It is in Takarabe, and it hosts a waterfall called Kirihara Falls (桐原の滝 "Kirihara-no-taki") that is lit up at night. There are also many scenic ponds at the base of the waterfall with many places to picnic.[6]

Iwaya Buddha[edit]

One of the eight views of Kannon that can be seen in Soo (according to the sign at the trail head down to the Iwaya Buddha). It was carved hundreds of years ago and is reached by climbing down many stairs to a cliff face above a river.

Mizo no Kuchi[edit]

Mizo no Kuchi Douketsu (溝ノ口洞穴, Mizo-no-kuchi-douketsu) is located in Takarabe and is a tunnel made long ago through erosion. it is 13.8 meters tall and 8.6 meters long.


Every year on the Sunday closest to the Buddha's birthday (April 8) the Mizo no Kuchi Iwaana Festival (溝ノ口岩穴祭, Mizo-no-kuchi-iwaana-matsuri) is held at the natural tunnel. At the festival school children dance through the tunnel in traditional costumes.

Yabusame Festival[edit]

Every year on November 23 at Sumiyoshi Shrine (住吉神社, Sumiyoshi-Jinjya) there is a Yabusame festival.[7] Originally, a student from the local junior high school was selected three months prior to the festival. Then he trained to shoot arrows on horseback for the festival. In many cases he had never touched a horse before he was selected, let alone ridden a horse before. How many shots he made was supposed to show how good the harvest will be for the year.

For at least the past 4 years, however, two girls have been the riders/shooters for the festival. Starting when they were in Jr. High school, they practice riding and shooting a few months before the festival. A third girl, currently a 6th grade student, has been shooting at the past two festivals, and a 5th grade boy began riding, but not shooting, at last year's festival.

Onioi Festival[edit]

In Sueyoshi in Soo every January 7 at Kumano Shrine (熊野神社, Kumano-Jinjya) there is an Onioi (鬼追い, Onioi). Onioi is a festival or ceremony in which the demons are driven out in order to let good luck in.[8]


  1. ^ "Official website of Soo City" (in Japanese). Japan: Soo City. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  2. ^ ja:曽於市#.E4.BA.BA.E5.8F.A3
  3. ^ "Bus Schedule For Kanoya and Shibushi (Japanese)" (PDF). Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Road Side Station page from Soo City Pamphlet" (PDF). Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  5. ^ "List of History and Culture sites from Soo City Pamphlet" (PDF). Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Soo City List of Sites and Leisure to Visit from Pamphlet" (PDF). Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  7. ^ "List of History and Culture sites from Soo City Pamphlet" (PDF). Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  8. ^ "List of History and Culture sites from Soo City Pamphlet" (PDF). Retrieved October 31, 2011. 

External links[edit]