Enjoy trekking in the mystic forest of Yakushima Island

Head out to the mysterious island of Yakushima!

Yakushima is an island located in 60km (37.3 miles) to the south of the southernmost tip of Kyushu island. With a climate ranging from subtropical to cool-temperate, its diverse and highly unique ecosystem and beautiful nature have been highly regarded and Yakushima Island was registered as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 1993. It is also called “the island of ancient forest and water” because of the huge Yaku cedars, which are over 1,000 years old, moss and abundant water system.

Location of Yakushima Island

Yakushima Island has a lot of rain throughout the year and it is not unusual to see high altitude areas covered in snow during winter. Many local buses stop running, so please pay careful attention to the bus schedule.

High speed ship

To access Yakushima Island, fly directly to Yakushima Airport when coming from Osaka and Fukuoka. When coming from other areas, go to Kagoshima by airplane or Shinkansen and then change to an airplane or a high speed ship or a ferry. When using a ship or ferry, please keep in mind the following: it takes about 55 minutes by bus from Kagoshima Airport to the boarding site of the ship or ferry, the schedule changes depending on the season, the ship or ferry will be cancelled in case of bad weather, and you need to confirm the destination as there are 2 boarding sites of the high speed ship in Yakushima Island.

Fascinating trekking course

While in Yakushima Island you may want to try trekking. We will introduce 3 courses for those at beginner to intermediate levels.

Course 1: Yakusugi Land

Yakusugi Land
Suspension bridge

This is a popular course where even beginners can enjoy the great nature of Yaku cedars. You can see Yaku cedars, which are over 1,000 years old, as soon as you get off the bus. There is a big river running through the course and the view from the bridge gives a fantastic atmosphere where the beauty of the forest and the gorge blend together. The trail is well-maintained and it is safe for children to walk, too.

Yakusugi Land

Required time: 4 courses ranging from 30 min. – 2 hrs. 30 min.

Access: <Bus> Anbou ~ Yakusugi Land, 2 round-trip services per day, about 40 min., 740 yen
<Taxi> about 30 min. from Anbou

Note: 300 yen donation for the maintenance of the forest (high school student and above, optional)

Course 2: Shiratani Unsui-kyo Gorge

Shiratani Unsui-kyo Gorge

Shiratani Unsui-kyo Gorge with the fantastical view resembling a movie scene. It is said that the forest in the anime film “Princess Mononoke” by Hayao Miyazaki, one of the top directors in Japan, was inspired from this place. The altitude is 600m (1969ft) at the entrance and about 900m (2953ft) in the forest of Princess Mononoke.


If you are feeling confident and your body is up to it, try going as far as Taiko-iwa in the innermost forest. The grand sight of the deepest part of the forest of Yakushima Island spreads before your eyes.

Shiratani Unsui-kyo Gorge

Required time: 3 courses ranging from 1 hr. – 5 hrs.

Access: <Bus> Miyanoura – Shiratani Unsui-kyo Gorge, 5 round-trip services per day, about 30 min., 550 yen
<Taxi> about 30 min. from Miyanoura

Note: 300 yen donation for the maintenance of the forest (high school student and above, optional)

Course 3: Round trip to Jomon-sugi

Jomon-sugi or the Jomon cedar

The symbol of Yakushima Island is Jomon-sugi or the Jomon cedar that is estimated to be around 2,000 years old or more. The course to visit this Jomon-sugi is 10.7km (6.7 mile) long one way from the entrance of the mountain and it takes about 10 hours for a round trip. If you are a good walker, it is possible to make it a day trip, but if you are not confident with your physical strength, it is recommended to stay one night at Takatsuka lodge standing ahead of Jomon-sugi. However, it is an unattended shelter and therefore you need to bring your own food and bedding.

Inside of Wilson stump

More than half of this course is the tram road that was being used to carry wood until about 50 years ago. Wilson stump that stands half way on the course is popular because if you look up from inside of the stump, the cut edge resembles a heart shape.

Round trip to Jomon-sugi

Required time: 9 hrs. 30 min.

Access: <Bus> Miyanoura or Anbou – Yakusugi Shizenkan. Change to Arakawa Tozan Bus and get off at Arakawa Tozan-guchi. If you want to make it a day trip, you want to take the first bus that leaves Yakusugi Shizenkan at 5:00 am (4:40 am for relief service). The ride from Yakusugi Shizenkan to Arakawa Tozan-guchi is about 40 min., 870 yen (Not in service from Dec – Feb)
<Taxi> It takes about 5 min. from Anbou, about 30 min. from Miyanoura, to Yakusugi Shizenkan. Take Arakawa Tozan Bus from there.

Note: Please purchase a round-trip ticket for Arakawa Tozan Bus from a tourist information center, at the airport or in town, or from a large accommodation facility by the day before you want to walk on this course. In addition, there are no convenience stores that are open for 24 hours in Yakushima Island. There are bento shops that are open from around 4 am in Miyanoura and Anbou and you can buy lunch on the day you walk on this course (Reservation required on the phone or over the counter by the day before. Many of them do not speak English, so consulting your accommodation will be a good idea. )

Cautions regarding trekking


Climate and gear

The difference of the average temperature between the level ground and the summit area of Yakushima Island is about 11 degrees Celsius (19.8 degrees Fahrenheit). In addition, there is about 10,000 mm of rainfall in a year in the mountainous area. You get sweaty easily and it often rains, so you must take quick-drying clothes and rain gear. Make sure you put a change of clothes and your cell phone in a sealed plastic bag. Take both water-proof sports shoes and hiking boots. Gloves are also convenient to have. Also make sure to submit a mountain climbing registration form to a tourist information center at the airport or in town, a police box or a postbox located at each entrance of the mountain before you enter.

The protection of the environment

In order to maintain the ecosystem and the natural environment, please make sure to take your own trash home and to respect the No Entry signs. There are limited bathroom sites. Bonfires in the forest are prohibited.

Departure time

Leave early and arrive early is the basic of mountaineering. Make a manageable schedule with plenty of time. Also check the schedule for the bus home in advance.


You can only stay at designated mountain lodges during the hike. If you want to stay at a lodge, you do not need to reserve in advance and it is free to stay, but you need to bring your own food and bedding as the lodges are unattended.

Are you prepared now? Let’s head out for some trekking in beautiful Yakushima Island!