Yakushima, Japan


The island is stunningly green with 90% forest. There are several settlements around the island, none much larger than a village and none in the west where the UNESCO area extends to the sea. There are 13,585 people (6,665 men and 6,920 women) living in these settlements, the largest of which is Miyanoura in the north followed by Anbo in the east. Both of which officially lie in Yaku town, although in reality there is no such place.

Surrounded by ancient cedars wrapped in Yakushima's tangibly moist air, you might just have yourself believing that you've stepped into some ancient Japanese movie with samurai flying effortlessly across treetops overhead.

Yakushima Island has 40 peaks at over 3,200 feet high and is home to 1,300 plant and 150 different birds.

The small southern island of Yakushima is boasting everything from the tropical to sub-alpine environments. It is one of the nation's best spots for wildlife viewing and hiking. Trails throughout the island are easy to follow, but a bit challenging because they are, more often than not, soaked.

Spend the day wandering trails as you search for Macaques, then join locals for the epitome of all Japanese experiences, the Onsen, or outdoor hot spring bath, and watch your aches and pains float away with the vapors. Sometimes, the Macaques will join you in Onsen too.

Here's a map of the protected areas of Yakushima. The darker blue colour on the map below shows the UNESCO area, the light blue shows areas of special forestry protection and the pink is the national park. The rest is forest right up to the coastline.

The term 'Yaku sugi (Japanese cedar)', the symbol of Yakushima, is used only for cedar trees over 1000 years old. Yaku sugi growing in the area covered by clouds and mist sometimes extend roots even from the leaves and stalks and form themselves into strange shapes. A cedar discovered in 1996 and situated at an altitude of 1350 m is assumed to be the largest and the oldest in the world, and is called 'Jomon sugi' (there are various theories as to its age, from 2170 to 7200 years old). Shiratani Unsuikyo is where you can take a walk in the forest of Yaku sugi.

Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen is where you can bathe in a spa right next to the sea.

Oko-no-taki as the tallest waterfall with the largest amount of water in Yakushima and selected as one of the 100 waterfalls of Japan

Senpiro-no-taki where the water falls about 66 m on to a gigantic granite monolith.

Yakushima lighthouse where you can see the deep blue ocean spreading out to the horizon and a beautiful sandy beach Sango-no-hama (coral shore) that is known as a spot where you can collect star-shaped sand

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