Yaku-shima

  • Cloud inversion on the trail to Mt. Kuromi-dake, Yakushima - © Walk Japan
  • Giant cedar - © Walk Japan
  • Kuguri cedar - © Walk Japan
  • Nagaishi-daira plateau - © Walk Japan
  • Ravine in Yakusugiland - © Walk Japan
  • Senpiro waterfall - © Walk Japan
  • Trail to Mt. Kuromi-dake - © Walk Japan
  • Waterfall - © Walk Japan
  • Yakushima cedar - © Walk Japan
  • Yakushima macaques - © Walk Japan
  • Tree stump - © Walk Japan
  • Yodogawa river - © Walk Japan
  • Deer on the Yaku-shima traverse - © Flickr user: Indrik Myneur
  • Forest on the Yaku-shima traverse - © Flickr user: Indrik Myneur
  • Mt. Miyanoura-dake - © Flickr user: Indrik Myneur
  • Yakushima traverse - © Flickr user: Indrik Myneur

Key information: Yaku-shima

    • Hike through forests of huge, ancient cedars on this small but wild, rough and dramatic volcanic island off the south-western coast of Kyusku.
      • Exceptional landscape, and unusual and unsullied vegetation and wildlife.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating81
  • Beauty31
  • Natural interest17
  • Human interest2
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points1
  • Total rating81
  • Note: Neg: likely bad weather

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Your choice
  • Maximum Altitude: 1,935m
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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Ravine in Yakusugiland - © Walk Japan

WALK SUMMARY

Yaku-shima is a thrillingly different place, a volcanic island 25km-ish across and some 60km off the south-west mainland. Yaku-shima is fascinating naturally, a recently-emerged mass of mainly volcanic and heavily eroded mountains with remarkable stone formations. It is home to ancient, sub-tropical rainforests including giant cedar trees and is one of Japan's few genuine wilderness areas. So spectacular and significant is its environment that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It has unusual and very varied plant and animal life, with some 1,900 species and sub-species of flora, including 94 endemic species. Special wildlife includes small deer and monkeys among 16 mammal species.

Yaku-shima has always been a backwater, a mountain fastness so remote it was paradise for Shugendō ascetic practitioners. Depredation for timber and farmland was stopped in the 1960s with the creation of a natural park covering much of the Island.

There are a lot of thrilling walking opportunities on Yaku-shima.

- Yaku-shima traverse: probably the best (and best-known) hike on Yaku-shima, of which there are variants. Hike hut to hut through forests of huge cedars, crossing all its highest peaks, including Miyanoura-dake and Jomon-sugi-dake (see below).

- Exceptional rugged landscape, vegetation and wildlife.

- Miyanoura-dake: At 1,935m the highest peak in Southern Japan. A fine day walk.

- Jomon-sugi-dake: An extremely youthful (7,200 years old) volcano. A stunning day walk.

- Mt. Mocchomudake: A demanding climb through fine forest leading to magnificent 360 degree views of the land and seascapes around this fine coastal peak.

Our friends and partners Walk Japan do a fascinating-sounding two days on Yaku-shima, starting/finishing at Kagushima on the mainland. Upon arrival, head for Shiratani Unsui-kyo, an impressive area of ancient cedar trees and fast flowing streams. Taking a little-used route through the area, wander amongst, around and in some cases underneath these venerable and giant forest inhabitants.The following day, weather permitting, you ascend Mt. Kuromi-dake, a peak of 1,831m (6,007ft) offering fabulous views over a canopy of granite monoliths and ancient, virgin forest, before making the return journey to Kagoshima.

Have a look at the dreaded TripAdvisor. You should get good, current views on this area.

Often demanding walking in remote hills with frequent bad weather. Come fully prepared. A section in Lonely Planet's Trekking in Japan on the Yaku-shima traverse and a chapter in the charming if now quite old Trekking in Japan: an Adventurer's Guide to the Mountain Trails by Paul Hunt.

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Other accounts: share your experiences

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PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Giant cedar - ©Walk Japan

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Yakushima traverse - © Flickr user: Indrik Myneur...
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