Yakushima: Explore Japan’s World Heritage Destination

Yakushima: Explore Japan’s World Heritage Destination
A vibrant scenery of a river in the middle of a forest in Yakushima, Japan, Photo Credit: 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com
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Visit Yakushima, located 60 kilometres out to sea from Japan's southern prefecture of Kagoshima, to walk through old woods, trek up mountains, roam along beaches, and experience a dramatically shifting environment. Don't forget your umbrella—it's going to rain a lot.

Sakshi Tickoo
September 24 , 2022
05 Min Read

Yakushima Island National Park, located in Kagoshima Prefecture off the southern coast of Kyushu (Japan's southernmost island), is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to great ancient woods, including some of Japan's oldest cedar trees. The island is a lush, lively landscape, surrounded by curving coastlines and sandy beaches. It has various hiking paths, diving opportunities, and canoeing and kayaking. 

The best way to explore the island of Yakushima is to walk along one of the numerous hiking routes; along them, you may see some of Japan's most mesmerising and sparkling waterfalls and the island's distinctive flora and wildlife. 

You'll explore all you need to know about Yakushima, including the most incredible hikes, unusual activities, and the Environmental Cultural Village Center.

Yakushima's diverse climate

The island's bedrock is granite, and it is believed that a ridge created due to movement in the earth's crust gave rise to the island. The island's highest temperatures and climatic variations are one of this region's main traits. The island has plants from subtropical and cold temperate zones, and locals claim that the island has 35 days of rain every month.

Things To Do 

Though hiking is the most popular activity in Yakushina National Park, there are plenty of other things to do if you have the time. After a day of wandering, a bath in one of the hot springs is a must, or rest on one of the island's many beaches, providing some of the most fantastic diving in Japan.

If you go in the summer, you can see turtles hatching as this is the nesting location for more than half of Japan's loggerhead turtles at the Umigame Center. Visit Okonotaki, one of Japan's top 100 waterfalls, and try kayaking for more water-related activities. If you want to explore more of the island's old cedar trees, go to Yakusugi Museum.

Discover the Alps from the sea.

Yakushima is a round-shaped island located south of the Osumi Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture. One-fifth of the island is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Up to eight mountain peaks over 1,800 metres high, including Kyushu's tallest peak, Miyanoura-dake, which stands at 1,936 metres. The island is known as the "Alps of the Sea."

From Alpine Flora To Coral Reefs

Because of the amount of water and the variations in temperature at altitudes, keep an eye out for numerous unique plants and animals. Coral reefs, alpine plants, and wildlife specific to Yakushima, such as the Yaku monkey and Yaku deer, may all be found there.

The Oldest Trees 

Yaku sugi cedar trees are the sign of Yakushima, and this designation is only given to trees over a thousand years old. You'll notice that yaku sugi occasionally extends roots from its leaves and stalks and twists itself into irregular forms when it grows in locations covered in clouds and mist.

It is believed that a specific cedar, found in 1966 and located at the height of 1,350 metres, is the biggest and oldest globally. The Jomon Sugi is the name of it. Its age is the subject of several speculations; estimates range from 2,170 to 7,200 years old.

Sightseeing 

On the island, there is a lot to explore. Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine offers opportunities to stroll among yaku sugi forests while bathing in a spa close to the water at Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen. Visit Senpiro-no-taki, where water falls from a height of around 60 metres onto a massive granite monolith, and Ooko-no-taki, Yakushima's highest waterfall with the most significant volume of water.

Wander along the lovely sandy beach at Sango-no-hama (coral coast), where you can find star-shaped sand, and take the expansive view of the deep blue ocean stretching out to the horizon from Yakushima Lighthouse. Make sure to secure your spot on a tour if you wish to go canoeing, partake in forest bathing, or take a trip to the entire island with the help of a guide.

Environmental Cultural Village Center of Yakushima

The Yakushima Environmental Cultural Village Center, situated at the entrance to Miyanoura Port, provides basic information about the ecology and culture of Yakushima Island. The island's incredible natural beauty is shown in breathtaking videos on the large screen theatre. In the exhibit hall, models that depict Yakushima's coastline, settlement, woods, and mountain peaks are also on show. 

Visitors may receive information on Yakushima's natural environment and weather in the entrance hall via maps, movies, and computers. Visitors may purchase all of Yakushima's local delicacies at a store.

Timings: 9:00:5:00pm
Closed: third Tuesdays (if it falls on a holiday, closed the following day) and February 15th through the end of February (open daily from July through October)

How To Reach 

There are several ways to travel to Yakushima National Park, but whether you're coming from Tokyo, Osaka, or another big city, Kagoshima will be your first stop. The fastest method to get to Yakushima Airport from Tokyo is to take a two-hour flight from Haneda Airport to Kagoshima Airport (40 minutes).

The other way is to take an aircraft or a bullet train to Kagoshima, then a high-speed boat from Kagoshima Port to Miyanoura or Anbo Port on the island of Yakushima. 2 to 3 hours are required for this.


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