8 Attractive Points about Yakushima Island!

8 Attractive Points about Yakushima Island!

Yakushima Island is a member of the Ōsumi island chain, approximately 60km off the southern tip of Kyushu. Yakushima is well-loved by hikers and naturalists for its beautiful cedar forests, mountain trails and unique wildlife. Easily reached by air from Kagoshima, Fukuoka or Osaka, or by ferry from Kagoshima, Yakushima offers visitors a truly unforgettable stay.



 

8 Attractive Points about Yakushima Island!

 

1. The Lay of the Land

Yakushima has a round shape and, with a circumference of just 90km, you can drive around the entire coastline in 3 hours. From 6am to 6pm there’s an hourly bus service around the island too. The climate is sub-tropical with high precipitation in spring and summer – in fact, Yakushima has the highest precipitation in Japan, and one of the highest in the world. However, autumn and winter are mild with much less rainfall, and far fewer tourists.

The island’s mountainous interior has peaks reaching almost 2,000m, whilst the slopes and valleys are dominated by impressive cedar forests carpeted with lush green mosses. Much of Yakushima is a World Heritage Conservation area.

 

2. Jōmon Sugi – Japan’s Oldest Tree

8 Attractive Points about Yakushima Island!Jomon Sugi

Mt. Miyanoura is home to the spectacular Arakawa trail leading to the ancient Jōmon Sugi tree. This long dead Japanese cedar is said to be anywhere between 2,000-7,000 years old, certainly the oldest tree in Japan. The trail can be reached by car, or bus or taxi – for which prepayment is required a day in advance during peak season. Following, in part, old logging tram lines, the trail involves a 10-12 hour round trip hike which, though not particularly difficult, does require fitness, stamina and preparation.

 

3. Shiratani Unsuikyo Forest

8-attractive-points-about-yakushima-islandshiratani-unsuikyo-forest

If the Arakawa trail sounds like too hard a slog, then perhaps Shiratani Unsuikyo forest would be a better way to experience the tranquil beauty of mossy, almost primeval forest. Easily reached by car, or bus from Miyanoura (40min – ¥530), this trail doesn’t require a dawn start or hours of tough trekking! Trail admission is ¥300 (for forestry maintenance) and there are two main hiking options: a 3-4hr route through stunning forest with several yakusugi (ancient cedars) to see; or a 30min hike to the amazing 3,000 year-old Yayoi Sugi cedar.

 

4. Other Attractions

In the east is Yakusugi Land, with several timed forest hiking options from 30-150 minutes. On the way to Yakusugi Land is Yakusugi Museum with exhibits about the region’s cedar forests and logging history. Close to this is the World Heritage Conservation Centre. On the South-West coast, near Kurio, is the Yakushima Fruit Garden (¥500) where you can stroll among tropical fruit trees and sample papaya, mango, guava and starfruit.

 

5. Ōko-no-Taki Waterfall

8 Attractive Points about Yakushima Island!Oko-no-Taki Waterfall

There are a few waterfalls on Yakushima, and the remote south-western shore is home to the best known, Ōko-no-Taki – generally considered one of the best in Japan. Just a 60 or 90 minute bus ride from Anbo and Miyanoura respectively, the 90m falls are just a short walk from the main road, and offer a great view from the base. Visitors can get even closer if they’re willing to scramble down to the pool!

 

6. Beaches

8 Attractive Points about Yakushima Island!beaches

Yakushima has some great, secluded beaches as well, with golden and white sands, interesting rock formations and solidified lava flows. Probably the best catered beach for swimming is at Isso, whilst the rocky area across the peninsular is one of the best spots for snorkelling on the island. Other noteworthy beaches are Miyanoura, Tashiro Kaigan, and the two beaches at Kurio village. But probably the most beautiful beach is Nagata Inakahama on the north-west coast.

 

7. Wildlife

8 Attractive Points about Yakushima Island!inakahama

Nagata Inakahama is not a designated swimming spot due to strong currents, but that doesn’t bother the loggerhead turtles who’ve made this their seasonal nesting ground. An endangered species, loggerhead turtles are protected here under the Ramsar Convention. Yakushima’s indigenous wildlife includes red-bottomed macaques (Yakushima macaque) and a variety of sika deer (yakushika), both of which can often be spotted when hiking the forest trails. The tanuki (Japanese raccoon) is also common to the island, but not a native species.

 

8. Onsen

Finally, no Japanese get-away would be complete without a soak in a hot spring bath, and Yakushima has a few to choose from along its southern coast. Kaichu onsen (admission ¥100) is only open for a short while during low tide but has 6 pools that can get very busy during high season. But visitors in the autumn and winter may find it almost deserted.

The nearby Yodomari Onsen is another popular spot, and is open all day (also ¥100), with access to the sea where visitors can swim in rock pools between dips in the hot spring!

 

Conclusion

If one could distil the essence of the Japanese natural world into one location, Yakushima might well be the result! No wonder then that it’s such a popular destination for hikers and nature-lovers who are not put off by the sometimes rugged terrain, and all that infamous rainfall. Maybe you’d like to take a trip there yourself; I’m sure you wouldn’t be disappointed!

 

8 Attractive Points about Yakushima Island!

1. The Lay of the Land
2. Jōmon Sugi – Japan’s Oldest Tree
3. Shiratani Unsuikyo Forest
4. Other Attractions
5. Ōko-no-Taki Waterfall
6. Beaches
7. Wildlife
8. Onsen