Yakushima is an island located off of the southern coast of Kagoshima; the farthest prefecture south in Kyushu. The island is one of the wettest places in the world and has the most precipitation in the whole of Japan; partially because of the mountainous landscape. Yakushima is one of the most enjoyable places in the world to drive and is famous for it’s winding roads twisting around the mountains on the island.
All of the above makes Yakushima undoubtedly one of the most fun places to travel by car and the island makes for a fun excursion both for a day or for a long term trip. We decided to make a day trip to Yakushima and therefore only travelled around approximately 1/4 of the island, but were able to visit two of the most fun places on the island.
Taking a ferry from Kagoshima is anywhere between a 2 hour journey to 3 hours; depending on the route that you choose to take. When you arrive at Miyanoura port, you will be able to find several rent-a-car outlets near to the port. Both Times Rent a Car and Toyota Rent a Car can be found just 5 minutes walk away from the port; alternatively you can arrange for transport to the car centre in advance. Recommended if it’s a rainy day, which is roughly 1 day in every 3 on this wonderful island.
The first port of call from Miyanoura would be a short 30 minute drive to the world famous Shiratani Unsuikyo, which has a variety of trails that could take anywhere from up to 1 hour from car park and back; or a four hour journey farther into the forest. The journey will take you on one winding road into the centre of the Shiratani and from there you will be able to reach three of Yakushima’s most famous cedars; Kugurisugi, Yayoisugi and Nidaiosugi. All beautiful in their own special way, a short walk will take you up stream to the waterfalls.
Watch out for the monkeys on the road… they’re everywhere…
The next port of call for us was a trip to Yakusugi Land, which makes for a great trip if you don’t want to hike the 10 hours required to see Yakushima’s oldest tree. The journey from Shiratani Unsuikyo to Yakusugi Land will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes, and will also go through some small towns on the way where you will be able to enjoy a quick stop for lunch.
At Yakusugi Land you can see some of the most stunning cedar trees and a further trip in land will give you a trip to Kigensugi, one of Yakushima’s giant cedars.
In total six hours will afford you a great journey through Yakushima; recommended for anyone who wants to experience the best that this stunning island has to offer.