Villages and Hot Springs
Yakushima’s major road runs along the coastline connecting all villages. It is about 100 Km in distance. In this section, we would like to introduce sightseeing spots, historical sites, and Onsen (hot springs) which can be found at the villages along the road.
Shitoko Gajumaru Garden (Shitoko)
Gajumaru garden is located along the shore of the coral reef in Shitoko village. You can observe subtropical and topical plants. One of the highlights is the Gajumaru tree, also known as the banyan tree, which is said to be 500 years old. Banyan is a fig tree that has the characteristics of epiphyte (a plant growing on another plant). They germinate in the branches and the stems of the host trees, and then send roots downward to the ground. Huge prop roots make them seem afloat.
Entrance fee: 200 yen per adult, 100 yen per student (up to high school), age below pre-school are free.
Closed: Open throughout the year.
Opening hours: [from April to August] 8:30 to 18:30; [from September to March] 8:30 to 17:30.
Yakushima Natural Park (Miyanoura)
It is a natural park with a botanical garden by the reaches of Miyanoura River. A small river flows through the park on a beautiful grass land, where children may play in the water. Flowers such as Syakunage (rhododendrons) are displayed and sold in the Wild Botanical Garden.
Entrance fee: 300 yen per adult, 100 yen per student (up to high school).
※ The entrance of the park is free.
Closed: From December 29 to January 3.
Opening hours: 8:30 to 17:00
Access: A 30-minute walk from the bus stop “Ushidoko Koen”
Yaku-jinjya Shrine (Miyanoura)
The history for Yaku-jinjya shrine goes back to Heian era (794-1185). Yaku-jinjya shrine was recorded in the document, Engishiki, which was finished in 927. This document is a compendium of rules and procedures for implementing penal codes, administrative codes, and supplementary laws for the government. Yakushima’s guardian deity “Hikohohodeno Mikoto” is enshrined here.
Yakushima Botanical Research Park (Mugio)
Plants from all over the world are cultivated in the Yakushima Botanical Research Park. You can enjoy the herb or the pineapple garden which will make you feel that you are indeed in a tropical island. An overlook of the Toroki waterfall can be found here.
Entrance fee: 500 yen per adult, 250 yen per child.
Closed period: Open throughout the year.
Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:00.
Pontankan Gift Shop (Mugio)
Pontankan is a gift shop that also sells natural refreshments made on site. You can enjoy Ponkan Orange and Tankan Mandarin juice that will surely be refreshing on a hot day. Homemade jam and cakes are also recommended.
Closed: From December 29 to January 3.
Opening hours: 8:30 to 17:30.
Onoaida Onsen (Onoaida)
A natural hot spring discovered 350 years ago can be found at the entrance of Onoaida-hodo. You can soak your feet in a foot bath arbor built out side of this bath house to treat your sore feet after having enjoyed a long hike. Although the temperature of the water is hot, it will refresh your body and soul and make your skin feel smooth. It is a gender-separated hot spring. You may purchase a towel or a soap in case you do not bring one. It is a public bath house for the locals, so please consider your manners.
Bath House Fee: 200 yen per person, 100 yen per child
Closed: Mondays 7:00 to 12:00
Opening hours: 7:00 to 21:00
Yakushima Onsen (Onoaida)
There are two hot springs of different qualities that can be enjoyed in Onoaida. The first one is the Onoaida Onsen which has been the main source for the locals for generations. This is a sulfur hot spring that is known to help ease chronic dermatitis and the hardening of arteries. The second one is called the Yakushima Onsen which is located at the first floor of Yakushima JR Hotel. It is an alkaline hot spring that was found when the hotel opened in 2005. The thick smooth texture of the hot spring water contains minerals of healing properties that are both good for your skin and wounds. Thus, it is not too far-fetched to say that it is a natural beauty lotion of magical wonders!
As JR Yakushima hotel stands at the tip of a promontory, you can also enjoy a superb view that extends the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean. It is a gender-separated hot spring. Body soaps, shampoos, conditioners, hairdryers and towels are provided. Please make your way to a rejuvenating experience!
Entrance fee: 1200 yen per adult, 600 yen per child.
Opening hours for any visitors: 15:00 – 18:00 (must be out by 19:00)
Father Sidotti landing monument (Koshima)
At the south tip of Yakushima, a small catholic church reside at the end of Koshima village. A mounument stands at the tip of the cliff near the church, where Father Sidotti landed in 1708. Father Sidotti was an Italian missionary during the period of isolation in Japan. He came for the purpose of asking the Japanese government to allow leniency on missionaries. He smuggled himself by disguising himself as a samurai, although he was quickly arrested as an illegal immigrant and was escorted to Edo (Tokyo). He was interrogated by Hakuseki Arai, who was a scholar and a chief adviser to the Tokugawa shoguns during the shogunate administration. Arai summarized the conversation with the father in a book called “Seiyo Kibunn,” which was greatly useful in gaining a wider perspective of the world when Japan was isolated.
Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen (Hirauchi)
This is a unique outdoor hot spring where it submerges under the sea during high tides, and becomes accessible only during the five hours of low tides. A locker room is not provided but you can change behind rocks and place your clothe on them while enjoying the hot spring. Bringing a plastic bag for your clothes is a good idea as it will prevent them from getting wet. It is a gender mixed bath but you can not wear bathing suits. If you are uncomfortable with being naked, please bring your own towel or a pareo to preserve your privacy. Although the availability of time is limited, bathing under a starlit sky while hearing the sounds of waves will surely be an experience you’ve never had before!
Yudomari Onsen (Yudomari)
Located at a seashore, Yudomari Onsen is a 5 minute drive from Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen. Unlike Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen, Yudomari hot spring is not affected by ocean tides, so you can enjoy a long dip at anytime. The temperature stays constant at a low 37℃ to 38℃. Because of this reason, it does not get very crowded, but you can enjoy a wonderful outdoor scenery with the sound of a soothing ocean. Why not soak yourself in this onsen under the dazzling stars with a moonlit sky, or watch the day complete its journey as the sun descends into the horizon! It is a gender-separated hot spring, and bathing suits are not allowed. If you wish to preserve your privacy, please bring your own towel or a pareo. Parking lots and restrooms are facilitated.
Yakushima Fruit Garden (Nakama)
There are about 1,600 – 2,000 kinds of tropical plants and fruits grown at this garden. The smell of fruits and flowers fill the air, making it irresistible to try some of their refreshments that are served at the rest station. They are completely fresh as they will be just picked and you can try various kinds of jam when they are in season. Must taste some of their delicious bananas, mango, and pineapples!
Entrance fee: 500 yen per adult, 250 yen per child.
Holidays: Open throughout the year.
Opening hours: 8:00 to 17:00
Syakunage Forest Park (Kurio)
Various kinds of rhododendrons (syakunage in Japanese) from all over the world are planted in laurel forest where a stream of Koyoji river runs. They are beautiful and come to bloom from March to June. You can take a walk through the park and surround yourself with a refreshing nature that will surely be uplifting.
Entrance fee: Free
Holidays: December 25 to January 7.
Opening hours: [April to August] from 9:00 to 18:30 [September to March] from 9:00 to 16:00
Seibu Rindo Area (between Kurio and Nagata)
Seibu Rindo is the only area connected to the shoreline that was registered as the World Natural Heritage in Yakushima. Yakuane-goyo and Goyo-matsu trees, which are considered to be an endangered species grown 300 meters above sea level, inhabit this area the most and are protected vigorously. Yakutane-goyo is a conifer tree that belongs to the pine family. It grows up to 25 m and the diameter of trunk reaches more than one meter. On Seibu Rindo, you may encounter a Yaku-zaru (monkyes) and a Yaku-shika (deers) but please do not feed them.
Sea Turtle Observation Meetings (Nagata)
Yakushima is known as the place where most loggerhead turtle lay eggs in the Northern Hemisphere. They are considered to be an endangered species (IB, II) which was registered in the Red List, supported by the Ministry of Environment and Washington Convention. The observation of sea turtles are possible at Nagata Beach from May to the end of July, but a strict rule is established and any visitation to the beach without permission during this period is not allowed. If you wish to observe the sea turtles, you must participate in a tutorial provided by Nagata Sea Turtle Council. Please contact them to make a reservation.
Open Hours: From 13:00 to 17:00
Yakushima Lighthouse (Nagata)
The white beautiful lighthouse stands at the tip of the Cape Nagata on the west side of Yakushima. The lighthouse has kept marine safe and secure since 1897 when it was built. It subtly overlooks Kuchierabujima Island in front, Mishima Islands and Kyushu mainland on the right, and Tokara archipelago on the left. Appearing in the shape of the earth, the horizon slightly bends and it will make you feel as though you are standing at the edge of the planet. The enormous existence of mother nature will surely be breathtaking.