Yakushima Island

Yakushima Island is listed as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, and it is for true nature explorers. Yakushima is mostly famous for hiking through pristine mossy rainforests, however it also boasts beautiful beaches (and has one of the world’s most important nesting grounds for the endangered loggerhead turtle) and great seafood. It’s easily accessible from mainland Kagoshima.
Yakushima is formed by a single giant granite monolith with the highest point being almost 2000 meters. Because of this, it is very interesting to explore the different elevations, each with its own climate, unique vegetation (from snow capped mountains with cedar trees to subtropical rainforests with native palm trees and wild bananas) and also wildlife. There is a high chance of encountering indigenous red-bottom monkeys, “Yakushima Macaque” and indigenous deer, “Yaku-shika” (sometimes you can see a monkey riding on a deer!).

For hiking, depending on the trail, you can experience untouched primeval temperate rainforest, ancient plantation forest (or both such as Shiratani Unsuikyo), subtropical rainforest with palm trees (such as the trail to Janokuchi Falls), over 3000 year old Japanese cedar trees (such as Yakusugi Land and Jomonsugi), and other unique flora and fauna.
In the ancient plantation forests, it’s interesting to see the traces of man, with cedar trees growing over stumps of forested cedar trees.

The mossy Yakushima forest inspired the forest setting in Miyasaki’s 1997 animation, “Princess Mononoke”.
However, you can’t have all the beautiful lush forest without rain – Yakushima is one of the wettest places in the world, with the average rainfall reaching up to 10,000mm per year. Pack your rain coat!

On a sunny day, it’s also nice to do off-the-beach snorkeling with green sea turtles, colorful tropical fish and coral reefs, or jump into the inviting clear water of Yokogawa Valley.

For packrafting/kayaking/SUPing, we highly recommend Anbo River and Miyanoura River.

For gelato in unique island flavors, we highly recommend Sora-Umi.
For high quality espresso-based coffee, we just love Issou Coffee Roastery


PrefectureKagoshimaSize505 sq kmPopulationApproximately 13,000AccessA jet ferry from Kagoshima takes approximately 2 hours. A flight from Kagoshima takes approximately 35 minutes.Getting aroundCar rental