Yakushima is a subtropical island in Kagoshima Prefecture that is covered by a forest that contains the oldest cedar trees (known as yakusugi), which the most ancient may be over 7000 years old. The most protected and unspoilt areas were declared as UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1993. Its temperate forests gives a fantasy-like ambience, with the gigantic trees covered with moss, has twisted roots, and wide canopies. It was said to be the inspiration of the Studio Ghibli animated film Princess Mononoke, by the creation of Hayao Miyazaki.
Photo by Casey Yee. Licensed under Creative Commons (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)
Usually, tourists come in the Yakushima island to hike its warm-temperate primeval forest to see the ancient cedar trees. Head to Yakusugi Land or to Shiratani Unsuikyo in the northern coast to see the trees upclose.
After a tiring day hike, you can go to the south coast and plunge in Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen, which can only be accessed twice a day.
There are also other activities that can be enjoyed, such as giant turtle watching, snorkeling, camping, and visit Ohko-no-taki, one of the best waterfalls found in the island.
Approximate travel time is 2 hours and 35 minutes to either Abou Port or Miyanoura Port by jet foil from the north pier of Kagoshima Honko, or 4 hours to Miyanoura Port by ferry. Alternatively, it is 40 minutes to Yakushima Airport from Kagoshima Airport.
There are Eco-tours provided by the Yakushima Nature Activity Center, participation fee is 15,860 Yen (including lunch), and Trekking Eco-Tour by Shizen-no-Pocket, participation fee is 13,000 Yen. Both tours require early reservations.
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