Yakushima (屋久島) is a World Heritage listed subtropical island in southern Kyushu. It is usually accessed from Kagoshima and is a great way for tourists to get away from the bustling and busy streets of most Japanese cities.

The best hiking view that we have had in Japan?
The best hiking view that we have had in Japan?

Budget travel tips

  • Buses go every hour our so, but be sure to check your bus times back as taxis are expensive and no English is available.
  • Eating out here is super expensive Japan! Get food from the local supermarkets if staying in Miyanoura or be sure to get supplies at early closing convenience stores if staying elsewhere. Ask at your hostel or hotel for nearest one, as they can be easy to miss.
  • Pick yourself up a bus pass and route map at the information center when you arrive. If using this for any reasonable distance, you will save lots and it just makes traveling around much easier. One day pass is 2000 yen, 2 or 3 days is 3000 yen and 4 days is 4000 yen (children half price).
  • Check out the super authentic outdoor bath at Hirauchi-Kaichu hot spring (平内海中温泉). Follow the signs (using the Japanese characters) and just put 100 yen into the box as you enter. Make sure you clean yourself with hot water outside of the bath before entering!

Things to do

The main shopping area and port on the island is Miyanoura. Buses often depart or end here. Best place to get cheap food and drinks before heading off elsewhere on the island.

Another port with some bus services. Accessible from Miyanoura by bus. Have a look around if you have time, but not essential.

Yakusugi Land (ヤクスギランド)
Featuring hiking courses of all kinds of lengths, suspension bridges and an observation desk through a primeval forest full over cedar trees thousands of years old. 40 min bus from Miyanoura. 300 yen (100 yen discount with bus pass).

Jomon-sugi Cedar area
Jomon-sugi Cedar area

Jomon Cedar Tree and further hiking
A thrilling 5-6 hour trek though some stunning forest to the oldest cedar tree in the world. Best to start as early as possible. Best to get a bus to/from Shiratani Unsuikyo. Further on is Mount Miyanoura, the highest mountain on the island and some mountain huts, where you can stay for free. Just bring some sleeping gear and essential supplies. Plan any long hikes with this map.

Ohko-no-taki (Great River Falls) (大川の滝)
The highest waterfall on the island, this is a spectacular sight. The 88 meter drop can be viewed from nearly directly under the falls. Bus from Miyanoura (90 mins) or Ambo (1 hour).

Toroki Falls (トローキの滝)
A waterfall that falls directly into the ocean, a rare sight indeed. When the water rises, the water sounds like thunder, which is ‘toroki’ in Japanese. Get off at Tainokawa bus stop from Ambo (20 min).

Senpiro Falls (千尋の滝)
Has an observation desk right in front of the watefall and views over the villages, fields and beautiful coastline. A 1 hour walk from Toroki Falls, but a must do if you are renting a car.

Nagata Inaka-hame Beach (永田いなか浜)
One of the major sites in the world for loggerhead turtles and green sea turtles (late-May to July), the turtles come up onto the land here. 35 mins by bus from Miyanoura.

Shitoko Gajumaru-en Banyan Garden
Check out a wide selection of subtropical plants, including mandarins, a huge Banyan tree and more. Get off at Shitoko bus stop from Miyanoura (15 mins).

Open: 8:30-17:30
Price: 200 yen

How to get there

While it may seem pricey to get there, the island has lots to do and traveling to other subtropical islands in Japan is more expensive. The cheapest way is to take the Orita Kisen ferry from Kagoshima port (4 hours, 4,900 yen) to Miyanoura on Yakushima island. A faster option is to take the Taneyaku Jetfoil (2-3 hours, 8,800 yen) to Ambo or Miyanoura on Yakushima island.

Hostels and cheap hotels

Miyanoura Portside Youth Hostel

A short walk from the port, this relatively new hostel is well maintained and not too big.

Minshuku Iwakawa

Decently priced private rooms futher down the road from the hostel, but not that much more expensive than a dorm bed there. Check prices at Booking.com

Compare more at Booking.com



Yes! Yakushima

Published by Matthew Baxter

Japan travel writer and onsen addict