Visit Yakushima Island and Try These 15 Interesting Activities

  • Yakushima Island (屋久島) is located in the Kumage District of Kagoshima Prefecture (鹿児島県熊毛郡) in the Kyushu (九州) region of Japan. It is part of the Osumi Islands (大隅諸島) that extend from the southern end of Kyushu. It has a sub-tropical climate with thick vegetation and a hilly terrain. Many tourists visit Yakushima to do hiking amidst the thick cedar forests. There are many interesting things to do in Yakushima as follows:

    1. Visit the Yakusugi Museum (屋久杉自然館)

    The forest industry plays a major role in the economy of Yakushima. If you are interested to know about the culture, history, flora, and economy of Yakushima, you may want to visit the famous Yakusugi Museum near the Anbo Port (安房港). This museum is sometimes referred to as the “Cedar Museum” as you can also learn about the cedar trees, its products, and its harvesting process here. The entry fee is 600 yen per adult.

    Yakusugi Museum Website *Japanese only
    Yakusugi Museum Access

    2. Catch the sight of the Ohko-no-taki Waterfall (大川の滝)

    Ohko-no-taki Waterfall lies on the west side of the Yakushima Island just off the main road. It is considered as one of the 100 best waterfalls in Japan. With a height of 88 meters, this waterfall looks awesome from any point of view.

    Ohko-no-taki Waterfall Access

    3. View Senpironotaki Waterfall (千尋の滝)

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    Senpironotaki lies on the southern part of the Yakushima Island. It is also a spectacular waterfall like Okonotaki. There are viewpoints near the waterfall for you to capture its beauty.

    Senpironotaki Waterfall Access

    4. Hike up to Jomon Sugi (縄文杉)

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    Jomon Sugi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the north side of Mt. Miyanoura (宮之浦岳), the highest peak on the island. It is basically a huge Japanese cedar tree a.k.a. yakusugi (屋久杉). “Yakusugi” usually refers to old Japanese cedar trees on Yakushima that are more than 1,000 years old.

    Jomon Sugi is the oldest and largest yakusugi in the world with an estimated age between 2,500 years and 3,000 years. It is named after the Japanese prehistoric era called the “Jomon period (縄文時代).” There are hiking trails from different points on the island to reach this huge conifer. However, the most traversed one is the Arakawa (荒川) Trail which is actually an old railway track. With a height of 25.3 meters and a trunk circumference of 16.4 meters, the tree looks like a rock rather than timber.

    Jomon Sugi Access

    5. Visit the Yakushima Environmental and Cultural Village Center (屋久島環境文化村センター)

    The Yakushima Environmental and Cultural Village Center is situated near the Miyanoura Port (宮之浦港) on Yakushima Island. It is a modern building with state of the art facilities to educate visitors about the nature and culture of the place. Here, there is a huge screen with a height of 14 meters where one can see the majestic beauty of Yakushima Island.

    Yakushima Environmental and Cultural Village Center Website
    Yakushima Environmental and Cultural Village Center Access

    6. Snorkel in Isso Beach (一湊海水浴場)

    Isso Beach is a famous marine spot with a rocky bay and abundant fish. Many diving companies operate here providing snorkeling and scuba diving tours for enthusiasts. There is a diving service called “Mori to Umi” (Yakushima Diving Service) which arranges diving and wildlife photography tours.

    Yakushima Diving Service Website *Japanese only
    Yakushima Diving Service Access

    7. Swim in the Tsukazaki Tide Pool (塚崎タイドプール)

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    The Tsukazaki Tide Pool is a snorkeling pool at the mouth of the Miyanoura River in Kurio (栗生). It is a naturally enclosed area with perfect waters to swim in along with the varieties of fish living there.

    Tsukazaki Tide Pool Website
    Tsukazaki Tide Pool Access

    8. Paddleboard on the Anbo River (安房川)

    The Anbo River is a major river on the Yakushima Island. It is a narrow river dividing the dense forest with crystal clear waters. One can do kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding on this calm river.

    Anbo River Website *Japanese only
    Anbo River Access

    9. Watch sea turtles (ウミガメ)

    Yakushima Island is famous for loggerhead sea turtles. Nagata Inakahama Beach (永田いなか浜) is the brooding spot for turtles. One can find hundreds of turtles on this beach during the egg-laying season from May to August at nights. The Nagata Sea Turtle Liaison Council (永田連絡協議会) that is situated in the north-western village of Nagata runs daily tours during the peak season. Thus, Yakushima is sometimes unofficially referred to as the “Sea Turtle Island.”

    Nagata Sea Turtle Liaison Council Website *Japanese only
    Nagata Sea Turtle Liaison Council Access

    10. Check the remains of Kosugidani (小杉谷集落跡)

    Kosugidani is an empty logging village that can be found on the way to Jomon Sugi on the Arakawa Hiking Trail. There used to be loggers living in this area. Now, this site is full of remains. If you want to see how the loggers’ community survived and know why they abandoned it, you may want to check out the remains by yourself.

    Kosugidani Website *Japanese only

    11. Stay in resorts

    There are a few nice resorts in Yakushima such as Sankara Hotel & Spa Yakushima and Marine Blue Yakushima (マリンブルー屋久島). The Sankara Hotel & Spa Yakushima offers luxurious accommodation with air-conditioned villas and suites that are equipped with a lot of amenities.

    There are a few guest houses on the island, too, if you prefer a home-stay type of accommodation or youth hostels if you are a budget traveler. If you are looking for an onsen (温泉), there is a famous place called the Onoaida Onsen (尾之間温泉) situated near the Janokuchi Waterfall (蛇之口滝) on the Onoaida Hiking Trail.

    Sankara Hotel & Spa Yakushima
    Check out more information on rooms, rates, and facilities here!

    Marine Blue Yakushima
    Check out more information on rooms, rates, and facilities here!

    12. Cycle on the Seibu Rindo Forest Path (西部林道) and swim in Nagata River (永田川)

    The Seibu Rindo Forest Path is a central road that passes through the UNESCO protected area in Nagata on the west coast of Yakushima. One can drive or cycle on this beautiful road and find monkeys or deers on the way.

    If you get tired from your cycling, you can just relax at the Yokogawa Pool (横河渓谷) created by the turquoise mountain waters of Nagata River.

    Seibu Rindo Forest Path Website *Japanese only
    Seibu Rindo Forest Path Access

    Yokogawa Pool Website *Japanese only
    Yokogawa Pool Access

    13. Experience the deep forest

    If you are interested in spending some time in the forest, you may want to try the deep forest trails such as Kusagawa (草川小道) and Shiratani Unsuikyo (白谷雲水峡). These trails offer some of the nicest forest views in Yakushima including the popular Hiryu Otoshi (飛竜落とし) Waterfall and the Yayoi Sugi (弥生杉), a 3000-year-old cedar tree.

    Shiratani Unsuikyo Website *Japanese only
    Shiratani Unsuikyo Access

    Hiryu Otoshi Waterfall Website *Japanese only
    Yayoi Sugi Website *Japanese only

    14. Visit the ports

    There are two major sea ports, namely the Miyanoura and the Anbo, situated at the mouths of the Miyanoura and Anbo rivers, respectively. One can find boats at these places to explore the waters around the Yakushima Island and Kuchinoerabujima (口永良部島).

    You can get to Yakushima by flying to the Yakushima Airport directly from major cities of Kyushu, especially Kagoshima City.

    Miyanoura Port Access
    Anbo Port Access
    Yakushima Airport Access

    15. Climb Mt. Miyanoura

    Mt. Miyanoura is the highest mountain in Southern Japan with an altitude of 1,936 meters. It is a 2-day hike with an overnight stay at one of the mountain huts on the top. You will pass through dense alpine vegetation, wetlands, cliffs, and slippery slopes during your climb. It is advised to take proper measures and planning before climbing this mountain.

    There is a famous viewpoint called the Taikoiwa Rock (太鼓岩) from where you can get a bird’s-eye view of all the valleys and hills. There are also a number of places to sit and relax at during your climb. The trail passes through Jomon Sugi, Kosugidani, and other important places. You can encounter wildlife such as deer (Yakushika – ヤクシカ) on the way. This is a must-try activity when you are in Yakushima.

    Mt. Miyanoura Access

    These are 15 of the things that you can do in the Yakushima Island of Japan. It is one of the most visited islands in the region due to its number of hiking trails, beautiful beaches, and wildlife.

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