Vigorous explosive eruptions that produce continuous high eruption plumes (Plinian eruptions) are generally assumed to tap a magma reservoir. The 1914 Plinian eruption at the Sakurajima volcano located on the Aira caldera rim is one such case, where the main magma reservoir was assumed to be located approximately 10 km beneath the caldera. However, we report that estimated magma storage depths immediately prior to the eruption were much shallower (0.9–3.2 km) on the basis of pressure at which volatiles within the phenocryst melt inclusions and plagioclase rims were finally equilibrated. The same is observed for two historic Plinian eruptions in 1471 and 1779. This depth is even shallower than the shallowest magma reservoir estimated from the pressure source for geodetic deformation during recent Vulcanian explosions (4 km beneath the crater). We propose that the magmas were fed from a thick conduit pre-charged from deeper reservoirs. The ground subsidence observed after 1914 within the Aira caldera may have been caused by conduit recharge following the eruption. Voluminous conduit recharge could be key to forecasting the next possible large eruption at the Sakurajima volcano.