Yakushima is famous for being home to some of Japan’s oldest cedar trees (Yakusugi 屋久杉) some rumoured to be as old as 7000 years! Unfortunately due to extensive logging in the past, many remain only as stumps, however the island has recovered well from this and is now largely a protected Natural World Heritage Site.
Arriving in Yakushima we picked up our next hire car – no doubt the best way to get around this small island as public transport is quite limiting, and our seaside accomodation was about a 15 minute drive to the nearest supermarket.
There are an abundance of waterfalls and hiking trails on this relatively small island (you can drive around the whole thing in a couple of hours).
As we arrived quite late in the afternoon, we made a quick visit to the pillow-shaped lava field, followed by Senpiro-no-taki Waterfall (pictured above) before checking into our accomodation.
The following days were spent hiking a couple of trails throughout the rainforest that Yakushima had to offer. The first of which being Shiratani Unsuikyo (白谷雲水峡), along which is the locally named ‘Mononoke’s Forest’, as it supposedly was an inspiration towards Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli film of the same name (although due to copyright issues the signage has since been removed). Ghibli fans though, I am sure you will be able to tell which part of the forest it is!
There is also an abundance of wildlife on this island – including many wild monkeys and deer.
The following day we did the Yodogawa Trail (淀川歩道), an impressive walk through marshlands and challenging ascents, culminating in summiting the peak of Miyanoura dake (宮之浦岳) at 1935m.
Our final day on the island we decided to do a clockwise loop of the island, finishing at the port to return to Kagoshima.
We were so lucky with the weather during our stay on Yakushima – locals like to say that it rains ’35 days of the month’ so we were lucky to have clear skies on each of our days.
Although we saw a lot of Yakushima, I feel there is so much more to uncover, so I cannot wait to return again!