Yakushima is located below the southern tip of Kagoshima, and forms part of the islands of Kyushu Prefecture.
Yakushima is one of Japan’s natural wonders, and is covered in verdant forests, home to some of the country’s oldest (and most enormous) cedar trees, which are thought to date back over thousands of years. Many travellers love to come and marvel at the size of these ancient trees, known as 'Yaku sugi' (Japanese cedar) and the symbol of the island.
As well as being covered in forest, this island is also brimming with another form of life – monkeys! The Yakushima macaque is indigenous to Yakushima Island, and can be found not only in the forests, but alongside the main roads which pass across the island. The monkeys have become very used to humans, which means it’s easy to take lots of photos of your furry friends. You’ll also see the monkeys interacting with local deer, who also scamper freely through the island’s forested pathways.
For visitors, there are several different areas of the island to explore:
The Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine – a green, mossy nature park thought to be the inspiration behind Studio Ghibli’s popular film Princess Mononoke. Footpaths throughout the park make it very accessible for those looking to take a leisurely hike.
Yakusugi Land – the variety of trails in this area of the island offer something for any type of hiker. You’ll find picturesque wooden walkways, bridges teetering across ravines, and plenty of enormous trees to discover en route to the top.
Beaches – Yakushima has a number of beaches, which can be suitable for swimming or snorkelling. On Nagata-inaka-hama Beach, giant turtles come ashore from May – August to lay their eggs (though you’ll have to get up early to catch site of them!)
Onsen – this one is our little secret, but one of the best things about visiting Yakushima is Hirauchi Onsen – a hot spring in the sea, which is only accessible when the tide is low. If you visit at night time, make sure to take a torch with you, as there is little in the way of manmade light (though on the bright side you’ll feel like a real adventurer!)
Access: To get to Yakushima, take a 2-3 hour ferry ride (costing 15,000 yen round trip) from the high speed ferry terminal at Kagoshima Port. Alternatively, you can take a 35 minute plane from Kagoshima airport. Yakushima airport is extremely tiny, meaning you needn’t arrive much earlier than 10 – 15 minutes before your plane departs to get through security. The short wait time means flying is usually the quicker option for reaching the island.
For more information please see: www.yakushima-marche.com/en