Yakushima, Kyushu – Japan Travel Guide

Japan may be known for its magnificent temples, giant metropolises and Mt Fuji but it’s sub-tropical islands in the south are just as awe-inspiring.

While Okinawa is the most popular southern Island in Japan, Yakushima is definitely worth a visit. Furthermore, Yakushima is just 2 hours away from the port of Kagoshima by boat!

The island of Yakushima is a registered as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and is locally known as “the island of ancient forest and water.” The residents on the island say it rains 35 days (yes 35) a month on Yakushima and that are probably right. It pretty much rains every single day meaning a reliable water-proof jacket and walking shoes are a must here.


Shiratani Unsuikyo / Princess Mononoke forest

Trails through the island into the forest are the main attraction at Yakushima. We have detailed two of the most popular trails for a short visit to the island.

The Princess Mononke trail / Shiratani Unsui-kyo Gorge trail

Take the bus from the Miyanoura Port up to Shiratani Unsuikyo. From this point you can decide between several courses which vary in difficulty and duration.

The main attractions at Shiratani Unsuikyo is a part of the forest which served as the inspiration for the Stugio Ghibli animated film Princess Mononoke. Oga Kazuo, the lead artist for the film, spent months in a small grove within Shiratani Unsuikyo while working on sketches for the movie’s forests.

The small grove is at the far end of the park on the trail to Tsuji Toge Pass.

How to get to Yakushima:

Jetfoil boat (Fast): You can take a high-speed jetfoil boat from Kagushima. There are two separate ports on Yakushima, Miyanoura Port is by far the most useful. The schedule can change depending on the season and routes can be cancelled in case of bad weather. The trip takes approximately two hours.
Ferry:  The ferry to Yakushima leaves from the main port in Kagoshima city and takes four hours.
Fly: You can fly to Yakushima directly from Osaka and Fukuoka.

Top Tip:

While a day trip from Kagoshima is possible, we recommend you set aside two days to explore Yakushima.

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