How to visit Yakushima without a guide Day 1- Yakusugi Land

How to visit Yakushima without a guide Day 1- Yakusugi Land

Yakusugi Land hike itinerary map
Yakusugi Land hike itinerary map
  • Terrain: Woodland, partially covered with wooden slabs
  • Duration: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Medium

Arriving in Yakushima

Attracted by the dreamlike landscape, thousand-year-old trees and its connection to film ‘Princess Mononoke’, we decided to include Yakushima to our world trip. After a short stay in Tokyo, we flew to Kagoshima in early morning changed to a cute pop-plane. At 11AM we arrived Yakushima.

Pop plane that flew us to Yakushima
Pop plane that flew us to Yakushima

Arriving in bright sunshine, we are tired and a bit confused. Isn’t it supposed to rain every day here?

Yakushima airport is super small. It has a tiny runway and a mini arrival hall. There is not even a luggage conveyer belt. The airport staff just placed luggage on a table. An elderly gentleman from the car rental company was already waiting at the exit, waving a sign with our name. We picked up the rental car and spent some time at the tourist information office next to the airport to workout plans for the next days.  Things went smoothly. By 2pm we have checked in our cottage in Anbo and were ready for a hike. When it’s sunny in Yakushima one should absolutely go for a hike.

Yakusugi Land hike

As it gets dark around 5pm in autumn months, we decided on a half day hike in Yakusugi Land. It is a lovely valley about 45mins drive from Anbo. There are several routes marked with different colours. We settled on the longer 210min route (Tenmon-no-mori course).

The beginning of the route is a decent wooden path completed with handrails. The valley is very quiet. Maybe because it was late in the day, we and another Japanese elder group and were the only people going down the path. Soon we passed the Japanese group, left the wooden path and started to walk among roots and leaves. Only till now we started to appreciate the trees in Yakushima. They are truly ancient and massive. Their roots crawl around the ground, covered with moss, give the valley a mysterious ambience.

Stream on Yakusugi land trail
Stream on Yakusugi land trail

Yakusugi Land is characterized by its ancient Sugi(cedar tree in Japanese). The older/taller ones are labeled with their name, size and age. Most of them are over thousand years old. In China there is an old saying: “Old trees are gods.” These Sugi trees rise forcefully towards the sky, while their powerful roots seize the ground. They are just like gods confidently and wisely watching the world goes by.

Moss covered tree trunk on on Yakusugi land trail
Moss covered tree trunk on on Yakusugi land trail
Inside a cedar tree trunk on Yakusugi land trail
Inside a cedar tree trunk on Yakusugi land trail

In fading twilight we followed the winding routes back to the car park. On the drive back, some Yaku deer ran in front of us.  They are grey and adorable creatures about two-thirds of a normal deer size as in UK. We immediately remembered the tourist office lady said that the most dangerous part of driving in Yakushima is the likelihood of hitting one. We slowed down the car and waited until the deer disappeared into the foliage.  Decided to have an easy night-in, we went to the supermarket ACOOP in Anbo. To our most delight they have half-priced sashimi sets after 7pm, perfect as a starter! We also got rice, vegetables for dinner and some pastry for breakfast. The Yakushima trip sounds so promising now!

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