Discover Yakushima

Yakushima is a sub tropical island, which is part of Kagoshima prefecture,to the South of Kuyshu
The island is mainly composed of several thousand-year-old wild Japanese cedar forests: the yakusugi. Word composed of Yakushima and sugi, cedar in Japanese.
 
These forests are protected national Parks, as they have been declared as World Heritage by the Unesco in 1993. Most tourists come to this island to hike through the different forests and discover these famous  thousands-of-year-old cedar trees.

foret-yakushima

 

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Getting to Yakushima

You can reach Yakushima by plane or boat. In both cases you will most probably have to go through Kagoshima.
 

By boat

Ferries run between Kagoshima and Yakushima. Some are direct but most stop at Tanegashima.
You should count on a 2 to 3 hours trip with the Toppy boats depending on the stops. A one-way ticket for Yakushima costs 9,100 yen and a return trip 16,700 yen.
 
Two ferry companies operate on this crossing between Kagoshima and Yakushima. Therefore, you will have the choice between 8 ferries per day to get to the island.
 
Some ferries, like the “Yakushima Ferry 2”, accept cars.
These ferries leave from “Kagoshima New Port”, located to the South of Kagoshima’s main port.
 
The crossing costs 5,000 yen and will take you to your destination in 4 hours.
Travelling with a medium sized car will cost you 25,000 yen.
 
You can also hire a car on Yakushima. Renting a car is a real advantage on the island even if the bus network is adequate.
 

By plane

 
5 flights a day link Kagoshima airport to Yakushima. It takes only 35 minutes to reach the island and the ticket costs between 10,000 and 14,000 yen.
 
The flights are operated by Japan Air Commuter; a branch of the JAL group. Note that you will need at least an hour to reach Kagoshima airport, located outside the city.
 
You can also reach Yakushima from Osaka or Fukuoka. From Itami Osaka Airport, you will need 90 minutes to reach the island. The ticket costs about 34,000 yen one-way. From Fukuoka, the ticket costs 17,000 to 26,000 yen for a 1-hour journey.

 

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The three must-see spots on Yakushima Island

 

1/ Shiratani Unsuikyo

Shiratani Unsuikyo is one of the most popular sites on Yakushima Island.
Indeed, it’s the best place to discover the famous giant cedar trees without having to go through a difficult hike.
 
The tours available are classified by difficulty and vary from 3 to 6 hours long.
However, you can also create your own itinerary through the Yakushima forests.
 
One of the main attractions of Shiratani Unsuikyo is part of the forest, which was an inspiration for the “Princess Mononoke” movie by the Ghibli Studio.
 
Shiratani Unsuikyo is located about 30 minutes away from Miyanoura Port by car. 4 buses per day go from Miyanoura Port to the site (530 yen).

 

2/ Jomonsugi

The Jomonsugi is a giant Japanese cedar known for being the oldest tree in Japan.
 
It soars up to 25 meters high and its trunk is 5 meters wide.
 
On the way to the Jomonsugi, you can also admire other famous trees like the Meotosuji: two trees which look like a couple embracing.
As for the Daiosugi, it is, one of the widest cedars of the island.
 
The hike to reach this exceptional site takes about 10 hours, there and back. It is imperative to set off at sunrise. Beware, this hike is quite difficult!
 

3/ Yakusugi Land

Yakusugi Land is, as its name indicates is the yakusugi plain.
 
It is the most accessible place to see them. The recommended itineraries offer hikes from 30 minutes to 3 hours.
 
They all follow the same route with many intersection to allow you to easily return to the starting point.
 
In 15 minutes by car you can easily reach Kigensugi, another famous giant cedar. It is the only yakusugi on the island that is accessible by car as it is located just behind the road.

 

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Around the island


Most travellers come to Yakushima to admire the cedar forests.
 
However, as well as hiking, many outdoor activities are available on the island: snorkelling, diving, waterfalls, museums and onsen.
 
You can also drive around the island.

The mountainsides and cliffs along the coast are etraordinary. The west coast of the island is part of the Unesco World Heritage and is only accessible by car.
 
Be you hiking or driving, you will almost certainly find yourself face to face with Yakushima deers and monkeys, called respectively yakushika and yakuzaru.
Beware, Yakushima is a protected, don’t feed them or try to approach them.
 
In June and July, sea turtles come to the most Northern and Southern shores of the island to lay their eggs. Specific measures are to be taken if you wish to see them and specialized tours are available. 

 

Japan Experience tips


If you wish to discover Yakushima, Japan Experience recommends you to spend at least 2 nights there:

Arrival early evening - Night 1
  Discovery day- Night 2
Trip back around before lunch


Don't forget to bring good waterproof hiking choose and socks.

A wide umbrella is a must have accessory in Yakushima!

Indeed, it rains quite a bit on the island.

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