Nature lessons on Yakushima Island


Just back from Yakushima, and it was wonderful! Especially coming from Tokyo city centre!

We took a flight to Kagoshima airport, and then a bus into the city where we had lunch. Everyone was SO friendly! We walked from the city down to the port, and took the Toppy jetfoil to Yakushima, about 2 hours and 5,000 yen each way. I thought the kids would be able to walk around on it but it was more like an aircraft style so that made it a bit hard.
Once there, we rented a car. Yakushima was not unlike southern Africa. It was almost jungle-like and very green. We took the kids on a fabulous hiking trail through the cedars. You can start with a 30 minute trail and then opt onto longer trails. We thought that we
would do the 30 minute trail as our kids are 4 and 2 and the 4 year old is pretty bone-idle(!) but they liked it so much we ended up on the 80 minute trail with them! They were fascinated by all the moss and bracken growing in the dark, damp forest.
We went to a banyan forest “museum” – it was just like jurassic park!

These incredibly old pre-historic trees. Unfortunately there were also tons of incredibly pre-historic mozzies too, so I recommend a ton of mozzie guard for anyone thinking about going – we ran out!

The waterfalls were spectacular, and the beaches quite rocky, stony and corally (take jelly-shoes) but with fascinating rock pools and crystal clear warm water.

In the north west of the island are two beautiful sandy beaches, one where turtles come up and lay their eggs, and one for swimming.

Hiring a car is absolutely essential to get around, but driving there is really easy. There are lots of full-blown trekking courses that we were dying to do but just couldn`t with the children.

I was surprised how expensive the supermarkets were – pretty much on a par with Tokyo ones, but I guess it costs that much more to ship all the produce to the island, as most of the island is given over to the cedar wood trade.

We stayed at Morinokokage(if you’re interested their website is at this URL.

Lovely little log cabins. Pretty basic but very clean and comfortable about 15 minutes drive from the ferry port.


Our friend here in Tokyo owns it with his brother who runs it down there and they were really friendly and helpful.
For us, Yakushima was a great break from Tokyo, albeit quite an expensive one – just because getting there from here was quite hard!
I think once you are there 4 days or so is enough to see and do most things, unless you want to do full on trekking. It was a real “return to nature” kind of thing, the trees are really beautiful and the mountains and beaches make the scenery really peaceful.

I would recommend it!





Yakushima (屋久島) is an island of about 500 km² lying to the south of Kyushu in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.

Yakushima is particularly famous as a tourist attraction for the Jomon cedar tree of Yakushima that is estimated to be around 2100 years old (height-wise) or alternatively, 7200 years of age (perimeter-wise).


Yakushima’s unique remnant of a warm-temperate ancient forest is a natural World Heritage Site since 1993. The island is covered in dense forest noted especially for old growth Cryptomeria trees known as Sugi in Japan and magnificent Rhododendron.The highest point on the island is Miyanoura-dake at 1,935 metres (6,360 ft).


The centre of Yakushima Island, and parts of the island’s southern and western coastal lowlands were internationally recognised as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme in 1980.


It is said to rain “35 days a month” on Yakushima, precipitation there is one of the world’s highest at 4,000 to 10,000 mm.

It is the southernmost place in Japan where there is snow in the mountains, often for months, while the ocean temperature is never below 19°C.

The “pristine” Yakusugi Forest of Manga fame inspired the forest setting in Hayao Miyazaki‘s film Princess Mononoke. The island was also seen in the 1996 movie where Rebirth of MothraMothra Leo laid his cocoons on one of the trees there.





3 thoughts on “Nature lessons on Yakushima Island”

  1. Hello! I was wondering if it was worth bringing my 2 kids ( 3 and 5 year old girls) and after reading this post, I am sold!

    1. Wait a few years, too hard a trek for three and five. They’re fine for the many beaches and turtle watching though. And they probably wont remember much. My kids dont remember most of their preschool day trips. Except for the one safar style one we did in Western Australia when the boy was five and a haf or so. He was very taken with the Big Boys and Eucalytus TreeTop Canopy. I wont say it has no value, it has great value on the fivish to sevenish set, but very touch on you and the three yos.

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