Yakushima is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and famous for inspired Princess Mononoke’s setting. This place is an island located south of Kyusyu with mountains standing high into the sky and abundant nature left untouched from the ancient times. 20 percent of this green island has been designated as a world heritage site since 1993, because of its unique and abundant eco-system. Once you enter into the island, ancient Japanese cedar trees will guide you through a surreal adventure in the beautiful green rain forest.
SHIRATANI CLOUD WATER VALLEY ROUTE
Inside this green valley, there are some of the best scenic views and places in Yakushima. The entire valley is a 6 hour hiking trip with several stops, but it’s really worth it. Also, there are shorter options with less stops.
Hayao Miyazaki, the famous Japanese animation creator, visited this place for inspirations for his award winning movie, Princess Mononoke.
Yakushima is famous for old Japanese cedar trees called yakusugi which are over 1,000 years old. There are several famous yakusugi in Shiratani cloud water valley.
The endless green moss carpet is just stunningly beautiful. As the name indicates, this valley has a lot of water. There are several spots with waterfalls and streams along the way.
The highlight of the Shiratani cloud water valley hike is Taiko-iwa, a huge rock, sitting on top of the mountain. The view from Taiko-iwa is just glorious and said to have inspired the scene of a stone cave house from Princess Mononoke as well.
If you are familiar with the movie, this should ring a bell.
Shiratani Cloud Water Valley Route Address: (Shiratani unsuikyo 白谷雲水峡) Yakushima-cho, Kumade-gun, Kagoshima prefecture Access: From Miyanoura port 30 minutes by car via 594, 40 minutes by bus *There are only 4 buses a day that go to Shiratani cloud water valley (there are 8 buses in July ~ September). *The buses are not available from December to February. If you are taking a bus, plan accordingly. *Check your bus timetable Open all day everyday *Sometimes it closes in the winter due to snow Fee: 300 yen *For anyone younger than high school age, there is no fee)
JOMON SUGI ARAKAWA ROUTE
The biggest Japanese cedar tree of the island is said to be 2,100 years to 7,000 years old and is one of the most popular destinations in Yakushima.
To get to Jomon sugi, it’s a 5 hour hike and another 5 hours on the way back. So don’t forget to gear up for your big adventure. There are other famous trees along the way although, they are nothing compared to this ancient tree.
Some of the Jomon sugi hike is walking on an old tram rail which was built to carry down lumber. They don’t cut down trees anymore, but sometimes you get to see a tram going up and down to carry supplies for the hikers.
This huge stump called Wilson kabu or Wilson stump is its heart shaped opening. It’s a remain of a giant Yakusugi cut down about 400 years ago. Wilson stump was introduced to the Western world by Ernest Henry Wilson, an English plant collector whose name was later given to the stump.
There are many native animals such as Yakushima deer and Yakushima monkey. You might see them in Yakushima.
Jomon Sugi Arakawa Route Yakusugi Museum Address (The start point of this route): Anb0, Yakushima-ch , Kumage-gun, Kagoshima-prefecture 2739-343 Access: ・From Dec 1st ~ Feb 28th: Access to the trail entrance (Arakawa Tozan-guchi) by car is available (up to 20 cars). ・From Mar 1st ~ Nov 30th: There is a shuttle from Yakusugi museum to the start point ‘Arakawa Tozan-guchi’ of Jomon sugi arakawa route. *Tickets are available at yakushima tourist information centers (Airport, Miyanoura port, Anbo port) etc. Shuttle Hours: 4:40am ~ 6:00pm *Check shuttle timetable Shuttle Fares: Adult 870 yen / One-way Child 700 yen / One way
*Things to note
Yakushima is blessed with many wonderful hike trails along with other outdoor activities. Some are very hard and can be dangerous, and it is important to be prepared. If you don’t have appropriate gear, there are a lot of places that offer rentals.
No.1 YES (English) No.2 Nakagawa sports No.3 Yakushima tourism center No.4 Yakushima-ya No.5 Sangaku-taro shop No.6 Yamashita rental
If you are not an expert in hiking or if you’d like to learn more about Yakushima’s nature, personal tours with professional guides are also available.
No.1 Go! Yakushima No.2 YES No.3 Yakushima experience No.4 List of guides in Yakushima (Japanese)