Mountains in Yakushima embrace a remarkable natural beauty with 39 mountains that are over 1000 meters in height that surround the highest peak Mt. Miyanoura-dake (1936 m). There are many beautiful ravines and waterfalls that have been created by the copious amount of rain that falls upon Yakushima. These ancient mountains which have preserved their superb state have many intriguing fields for mountain and hiking lovers. Must experience a place that has been called the “Alps on the Ocean！”
Yaksugi Cedar Land (for beginners)
Yaksugi Cedar Land is a forest recreation of 677 ac in the upper reaches of Arakawa River, which is a tributary of the Anbo River. The entrance of the hiking trails are located 16 km from Anbo town, approximately 1,000 m above sea level. Here you can see trees that represent Sugi Cedar Forest zone, such as Yakusugi Cedar, hemlock spruce, and fir trees. There are distinct Yakusugi cedar trees such as the Buddha-sugi, which is estimated to be at least 1800 years old, the Mitsune-sugi (three rooted trees), Hahako-sugi (mother and child) and the Tenchu-sugi (heaven’s pillar). There are four hiking trails that range from 30 minutes to 150 minutes long.
Bus route: Take the bus bound for Yaksugi Land.
※Attention: This bus does not run from the period between December 1 to the end of February. Although limited, there are different buses to Yaksugi Land beside the one mentioned above, so please check for the timetable and bus routes.
We are open through the year, but it can be difficult to reach in times of snowfalls and bad weather conditions especially during the winter.
Entrance fee: 300 yen (16 years or older)
Parking space: 40 lots
Shiratani Unsui Ravine (entry – intermediate level)
Shiratani Unsui Ravine is a forest recreation of 1047 ac at the upper reaches of the Shiratani River that runs into Miyanoura River. The entrance of hiking trails are located 12 km from Miyanoura town, approximately 620 m above sea level. This is a wonderful area as two completely different forests mingle with one another; the Yakusugi Cedar Forest, a-thousand-year-old cedar trees that exist at high altitudes, and the Laurel-Leaved Forest that is characterized by lustrous leaves that grow at lower altitudes. Some of the trees that represent this area are Isunoki, Urajiro oak, and the Machilus thunbergii. Among the cedar trees that are well known is the Yayoisugi cedar tree which is estimated to be at least 3000 years old.
In addition, waterfalls such as Hiryu drops are seen everywhere. The mossy forest which is said to have been illustrated in the backgrounds of the animated film Princess Mononoke are also something not to miss.
There are hiking trails that range from one to five hours long. At 1050 m above the sea level, one of the hiking trails will lead to a lookout point called “Taiko-iwa (drum rock)” which literally is a giant rock that resembles a drum. From there, you’ll encounter an amazing overview of Okudake Mountain Range that will include Mt. Miyanouradake and Anbo River that runs around Kosugi-tani village.
Bus route: Take the bus bound for Shiratani Unsui Ravine and get off at its terminal.
※Attention: This bus does not run from the period between December 1 to the end of February.
Entrance fee: 300 yen (16 years old or older)
Parking space: 20 lots
Jomon-sugi Cedar Trail (intermediate level)
This hike takes you to the Jomon-sugi cedar tree that is said to be over 3000 years old, which has been a symbol of Yakushima. You can also enjoy observing other ancient trees along the trail. Approximately 18 km from Anbo town, the entrance is at the Arakawa-tozanguchi (Arakawa mountain trail entrance). This course takes 9-10 hours round trip and the altitude difference from the entrance to its destination is 700 m. Preparation is crucial for this course as it will be a full day trip. Please bring appropriate equipment, prepared meals, and a strong spirit for this physical journey.
At the starting point, you will walk toward Ohkabu-hodo mountain trail entrance on a rail track that was once used for the transportation of Yakusugi cedar tree logging. After walking a bit further in Ohkabu-hodo, you will come across the “Wilson Stump,” which took name from a renown botanist Dr. Wilson who had introduced Yakushima island to the world as a unique ecological treasure.
Please take caution that some narrow paths make it difficult to return as it is required to walk in one line. If you come with a large group, it is recommended that you avoid busy days on Saturdays, Sundays and consecutive holidays.
Finally, you must park any vehicle at the Yaksugi Museum and take the bus bound for “Arakawa-tozan-guchi (Arakawa Mountain Trail Entrance)” to reach the starting point. The bus ride will take about 30 minutes. Please note that tickets may not be purchased at the Yaksugi Museum nor upon boarding the bus. Purchase them in advance at the Yakushima airport, tourist information centers, and some hotels.
Miyanouradake Course (intermediate – difficult level)
Reaching at the highest peak of Kyushu island, Mt. Miyanouradake (1,936 m), is the 100th best selected mountain in Japan. As you pass through the beautiful forest that is recognized as the world heritage site and climb above the timberline, you will come across a place considered as a sanctuary for gods.
This is a challenging hiking course where you can fully experience various charms and qualities of the mountains in Yakushima. These include Yakushima rhododendron that is treasured as beautiful flower in England, indigenous alpine plants, colossal rocks to strangely shaped ones, and many ancient Yakusugi cedars.
Because the weather change can be intense and severe around the mountain top, it is vital to equip properly and consider your own physical strength before deciding to take this challenge. Basic knowledge of mountain climbing and experience is necessary. For those who decide to stay at some of the stone and wooden shelters, please bring your own camping equipment (sleeping bags), kitchen utensils and food. Please take note that these shelters are unattended and are not managed by anyone.