This October, I was lucky enough to spend 3 days on Yakushima, a small, circular island 135km south of Kagoshima city. Before going, I’d heard about some of the island’s more famous attractions, like the Shiratani Unsuikyo Gorge (made famous by the Studio Ghibli animated film, ‘Princess Mononoke’) and Jomon Sugi (an ancient cedar tree). Imagine my disappointment when I heard we would not be visiting those famous sites but instead going off the beaten path to places less visited! It turned out great in the end, though.
We really lucked out with the weather. Yakushima is known to be the rainiest place in Japan, recording more than 4,000mm of rainfall on the coast and 10,000mm in the mountains each year. To put it simply, it rains twice as much in Yakushima than it does on the mainland. Autumns are generally one of the driest times of year for the island, but we were still told to come prepared with rain-gear, which we fortunately didn’t end up using.
We flew from Tokyo to Kagoshima on Japan Airlines (JAL), around 2 hours, and then from Kagoshima to Yakushima, 40 mins, by JAC (Japan Air Commuter, owned by Japan Airlines).
Yakushima is best explored by rental car. For Aussies, this means getting an International Driving Permit (IDP) from the automobile association in your state (NRMA or equivalent). It gives you more flexibility to visit the sites as public transport is not well developed. The island’s so small, you can actually drive all the way around it (without stopping) in 3 hours. There are several rental car shops found close to Yakushima Airport.
Senpiro no taki
This impressive waterfall has a drop of 60m into a granite ravine. You can view it from an observation deck.
Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen
We visited Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen, a natural hot-spring that can …continue reading