For information on how to get to Yakushima, please drop by my Japan travel planner.
We were based in Onaida (Shiki-no-yado minshuku), a small village on the south coast of Yakushima only a short drive from the port city of Anbo. Knowing full well that the bus service on Yakushima was infrequent and slow, we had picked up a rental car for the time we spent on the island. This proved invaluable in getting us to the trail heads of both the Yakusugiland and Shiratani Unsuikyo hiking trails.
This brochure provides some further detail regarding access and directions, and also provides a good map of the Yakusugiland hiking trail itself.
1. The Yakusugi Land trail is the most popular one in Yakushima, resulting in some extensive facilities and car parking at the trail head. Toilets and a souvenir shop are available if needed. A Y300 donation is encouraged on entry.
There are numerous short and long walks available but as we had plenty of time, we chose to do the longest walk.
2. The hiking trail immediately descends into the depths of the gloomy rainforest. It was quite damp and misty while we were there, adding to the ghostly ambience of the ancient cedar forest. Made of timber and located above the forest floor, the trail is initially easy for walkers of any fitness level but does eventually become a well made dirt path.
3. 40 minutes of walking will bring you to the rest shelter located near the fallen Jamonsugi (fallen cedar). My Japanese translation skills are dodgy at best, but I believe that to be classed as a ‘Jamonsugi’, the tree must have been approximately 7,200 years old!! Yakusugi trees however are closer to (only) 3,000 years old.
4. For the next hour the trail winds its way back through the forest and down to the Sawatsuhashi Bridge. In some sections the trail is built into the mountainside, with a very sharp drop down to the river below if you happen to stumble!
Another half an hour of walking will bring you back to the car park.
If I hadn’t experienced the jaw-dropping Shiratani Unsuikyo only two days earlier, this hike through Yakusugi Land would have received a few more superlatives!
It is an awesome place to experience and is thoroughly recommended, particularly if you are limited in the amount of time you have on the island, or if your mobility is restricted.
While the terrain was similar to that at Shiratani Unsuikyo, the forest differed subtly. It felt to me like Shiratani was the great-grandfather, with Yakusugi Land his younger son. Old in itself, but lacking the truly ancient atmosphere evoked at Shiratani.
The hike took us only two hours in total, including the one rest approximately half way in.
The level of fitness required for this hike is low. While there are quite a few steps and there were a few sections that were relatively steep, we were never really challenged at all.
If you’re interested, there’s some more info on the hike in the travel blog that I wrote while staying in Japan.