If you haven’t yet you should first check out Yakushima Day 1: Waterfalls and Fruit Garden.
For detailed tourist information about Yakushima, you should download this pdf file provided by the Japan National Tourism Organization .
If you plan to visit Yakushima I also highly recommend the guidebook “Yakushima: A Yakumonkey Guide” written by Clive Witham who has lived on the island for a long time.
My second day in Yakushima started just like the first day ended: with really bad weather!
As it was impossible to predict what the crazy weather on that island was up to, I decided to visit a museum first.
At least I wouldn’t have to worry about rainstorms in there.
The Yakusugi Museum (屋久杉自然観, #4 in the pdf pamphlet) is very close to Anbo Port.
Although it’s a museum you can enjoy the smell of Yakushima cedar trees there.
The architecture of the museum is quite nice. They built everything with cedar wood. The small wooden blocks on the floor make sounds when you walk over them, giving the whole museum a nice atmosphere.
The Yakusugi Museum features a lot of interesting information about the old cedar trees of Yakushima, but also about all the other aspects of nature.
They also featured some of the best photos of Yakushima. I couldn’t resist and had to take photos of the … photos!
After all I wasn’t sure if I would get to see all those famous spots due to the bad weather!
There are also some onsen and caves on Yakushima! I wanted to go, but because of the strong waves I couldn’t!
When I left the Yakusugi Museum the weather had gotten better.
I thought it’s at least worth a try to go to the nearby “Yakusugi Land” (Yakushima Cedar Land). (#2 in the pamphlet)
Yakusugi Land is designated as a natural recreation forest as it features several very old cedar trees.
It’s truly a magic land, even in winter!
Bridge to paradise. It was very slippery. A mix of snow and rain kept coming down on me and I had a hard time holding the camera, the umbrella AND making sure that I wouldn’t slip!
However, the world that opened up right in front of me was totally worth all the exertion!
This is the real rain forest, I swear! *g*
You don’t have to worry about getting lost! In Yakusugi Land they have signs everywhere in both, Japanese and English!
There are actually several hiking options. Some require only a few minutes for those who don’t have much time, but there are also very extensive tours!
This is one of the many cedar trees that are over a thousand years old!
The older they are, the more restricted is access to them it seems.
That’s because they don’t want people to touch the super old ones anymore, I guess.
As it was winter and on top of that horrible weather I was pretty much alone there!
I had the whole freaking huge forest for myself!! I can’t even describe how awesome that was!
I tried to enjoy it as much as possible. The air there was so fresh and clean.
High season for Yakushima is during the warmer months, especially during Golden Week and summer vacation.
You can easily climb up to the peak of all the mountains and visit the oldest cedar tree (which I couldn’t due to snow), but be prepared for the crowds!
Due to the rain it was really slippery. You had to watch your steps carefully.
Around that point it was a dead-end for anybody who didn’t have proper hiking gear!
You ended up in the deepest forest without any proper path to walk on. Normally not a problem, but I swear I couldn’t walk anymore. I slipped the whole time and it was quite steep, too! It seemed like I was the only one trying anyways.
I decided to turn back and walk a different, shorter path instead.
No worries. Yakusugi Land has so many beautiful spots!
Fallen trunk and a new tree has grown on it!
The Great Buddha Cedar!
Attention! Be careful not to bump your head!
Nature doesn’t care about the human visitors that come!
The trees can grow just the way they want, too! Yakushima is a true paradise for plants!
Wow! I don’t know what to say!
Yakushima is something that you enjoy in silence anyways – as your jaw has dropped down to the floor! Just try to imagine you walk through this primeval forest yourself!
It could be a background scene of a fantasy movie!
I left Yakusugi Land and was driving around a little to figure out what to do next.
The weather had gotten crazy again …
At that point the weather changed every few seconds.
I decided to drive back to the center and just stop whenever the weather was a bit better to take a few photos.
The waves had gotten quite high by that time.
Later I heard that the ferries back to Kagoshima were cancelled! Good thing I didn’t have to go back that day!
I asked various people if that kind of thing would happen often in winter and say all said yes. In summer, apparently during typhoon season, it also happens often!
So, be careful when planning your trip!
For the people living on Yakushima this is also a problem!
All their supplies in the supermarket run out very quickly when all shipping traffic is cancelled!
As I was nearby anyways I decided to quickly stop at the Shitoko Gajumaru-en Banyan Garden (志戸子ガジュマル園, #10 in the pamphlet).
It is very close to Miyanoura Port!
It’s Yakushima’s biggest Banyan Park. It all started years ago with a 15m high Banyan tree (fig tree) that was said to be several hundred years old!
It’s a relatively small garden, but easy accessible.
Personally I’d only recommend going there when you have enough time! There are so many better things to see and do on Yakushima!
You should focus on the things Yakushima is famous for and that’s mainly the super old cedar trees!
The weather continued its strange behavior. At least it stopped raining.
I got to see a rainbow AGAIN! I lost count by that time. Maybe that was my 4th or 5th rainbow in 2 days!
While it was still stormy, I decided to drive along the coast to a spot that was recommended by the guy who runs the minshuku I stayed at.
I’m glad I went! There was nothing special, but it was simply beautiful!
The last picture shows my rental car at the secret spot I just mentioned. I was the only one there.
Truly a magical moment. The photo hasn’t been photoshopped! Thanks to the weird weather the light was just perfect!
Soon it got dark and cold. Very cold! So I was off back to the minshuku.
I only had half a day left the next day before my ferry would leave and I still didn’t see the highlight: Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine with the Princess Mononoke forest!
Stay tuned to see if I actually made it there!