Yakushima

The mystical island

Yakushima is an almost circular island of about 200 square miles / 500 km², belonging to Kagoshima prefecture, located at few tens of kilometers South of Kyushu in the Osumi archipelago. It is possible to land there from cities of Japan thanks to its small airport. The island is famous for its really dense and almost unspoiled nature which makes it the main choice as being the first Japanese site entering the list of Unesco’s World Heritage in 1993.

There lies a vast luxurious forest with numerous hiking trails, loved by (mainly Japanese) tourists. Discovering its nature involves walking between huge millennial trees in a unique and fascinating atmosphere. As of local fauna, Yakushima has tons of wild animals, notably shika deer (like in Nara and Miyajima) and macaque monkeys from which local people like to say they are as numerous as human locals on the island.

The subtropical climate is extremely rainy on Yakushima, and even if temperatures are quite pleasant, it is wise to have an adequate and complete equipment in order to come visit for one day or two. This peculiar climate mixes subtropical and subarctic areas to create a ruffling contrast: a local proverb says that "it is raining 35 days a month"! For those willing to limit physical activities, this place is also famous for its onsen. Along the year, less than 15,000 inhabitants live on the island, a stable number since the 1990s, after an important decrease during the second half of the 20th century.

While it is advised to plan a consequent transportation mean, such as a rental car, motorcycle or mini van, most visits are made on foot in Yakushima. Whether it is to cross the island from East to West on the 13 kilometers Seibu-rindo forestry trail, or to go admire the Yakugusi Land cedar trees forest on an observatory deck at more than 1,000 meters high, hikers eager for challenges or visitors willing to discover a new aspect of Japan will be delighted!

It is essential to plan having suitable hiking shoes as they will be challenged during 7 hours and more hikes. As a cornerstone, Mount Miyanouradake, the highest mountain of the island, peaks at 1,935 meters and brings you to a dazzling spring show: cherry trees, rocks and Japanese azaleas make up a painting which might inspire numerous impressionists painters. In addition to the numerous waterfalls garnishing the island, a scientific break at the cedars trees’ museum offers the chance to smell the peculiar and beneficent cedars' fragrance, some being more than 2,000 years old.

Japan popular culture favored the recognition of the island in 1997, with the release of Princess Mononoké (Ghibli Studio). Its producer and director, Hayao Miyazaki, spent some time on the island during the pre production period, which landscapes greatly inspired him to imagine the scenery of its sumptuous animation movie.

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Yakushima photo gallery

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  • Yakushima 1
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  • Yakushima 13
  • Yakushima 14

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How to get to Yakushima

By plane with Japan Air Commuter / JAC, branch of JAL (one way discount) :

  • 35 minutes from Kagoshima (11,000¥ / ~US$ 98.90)
  • 1 hour from Fukuoka (16,000¥ / ~US$ 143.90)
  • 1h30 from Osaka (27,000¥ / ~US$ 242.80)

By boat from Kagoshima (round trip cost) :

  • 2 to 3 hours by "High-speed" (16,100¥ / ~US$ 144.80)
  • 4 hours by ferry (8,900¥ / ~US$ 80.00)

Location unreachable with the JR Pass

Get there with a rental car

Admission

Get your Japanese Yens free of charge

How long / when to visit

One day on site possible but better to spend one night

In Japanese

屋久島

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Resources

Official Website (in English)

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Day trips from Yakushima (Kyushu)