After visiting some waterfalls and the Yakushima Fruit Garden on my first day in Yakushima as well as the Yakusugi Land and Yakusugi Museum on my second day, I finally got to visit the highlight I had been longing for: Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine (白谷雲水峡)
Shiratani Unsuikyo is another primeval forest similar to Yakusugi Land. It’s located at an altitude of 800 m and you can see a lot of very old Yakusugi cedar trees there.
There are different tours raging from 60 mins to 3 hours.
From there you can access other great sights such as the Tsuji Pass, Wilson Stump, Daiosugi Cedar and the oldest cedar tree on the whole island: Jomon-sugi!
Even on my 3rd day the weather wasn’t getting better! It was rainy, stormy and cold.
As I only had until noon before I had to leave Yakushima, I went there in the early morning. I was so early there that nobody was in the ticket booth yet and I was able to enter for free!!
I decided to go as far as I could with the remaining time I had – which wasn’t much!
I still needed enough time to get back, fill up my rental car‘s tank and bring the car back before boarding the ferry!
As Shiratani is a real highlight I suggest you better plan a WHOLE DAY for it!!
There were many very old cedar trees everywhere! The further you went, the older and bigger they became!
There weren’t any big waterfalls, but a lot of smaller ones. Truly beautiful.
The water was so clean, too!
Just like in Yakusugi Land I had almost the whole primeval forest all to myself! Such a great atmosphere!
However, compared to the previous day, I met quite a few people with proper hiking gear who obviously stayed over night in one of the mountain huts and made it up to the oldest cedar tree of Yakushima.
You’ll see later that there was A LOT OF snow in higher altitude! Only with professional gear and accompany one was able to do the hike during that season! This is why I couldn’t go there! … Too dangerous! This is one reason why I want to go back to Yakushima one day. Maybe in warmer months next time.
The pink band you see in the photo was to show hikers the proper hiking path.
At that point you’re deep in the forest. There’s no proper trail anymore and without those pink bands everywhere you’d get lost very easily.
I didn’t have proper hiking gear, but very good rain gear and hiking shoes and yet I struggled.
Because of the snow it was especially hard to climb up, but it was worth all the efforts.
After all I got to see wild deer from close up! Those are different from the deer you can see in Nara or Miyajima, for example.
The latter are used to humans and are not afraid of approaching you and eating your backpack!! *g*
There were some really huge trees, some had really weird shapes!
Despite the cold season everything was green, just partly covered by snow!
I had already reached the famous “Princess Mononoke” forest – the one that inspired Hayao Miyazaki for his great animation movie!
There were a lot of impressively shaped trunks and trees, some of them HUGE!
I kept walking a bit beyond the Princess Mononoke forest, but at some point I just had to give up for many reasons:
1) I didn’t have enough time as my ferry was leaving soon.
2) I didn’t have proper hiking gear and at some point the snow was so high that it was above my knees!
3) I was all sweaty from moving around so much, but at the same time it was freezing. I had to go back to my car and change clothes ASAP!
I’m sure it would have been a great hike! One day I want to try again!
And so I was on my way back down again.
It’s such a magical and beautiful place indeed.
I rushed back to my car and got changed. I was completely soaked and freezing!
That’s the advantage of travelling with a car.
I was able to give the rental car back just on time.
As I still had some time before the departure of the ferry, I decided to eat lunch in the restaurant above the tourist information center, facing the Miyanoura Port.
Because I was freezing earlier, I thought a hot noodle soup would just be perfect!
I’m not really a big fan of tempura, but it just came with the set, so it couldn’t be helped.
And then I was on my way to the port.
I had enough time to stroll around and explore the port area a bit! ^-^
And that’s the “Rocket Liner” the speed ferry I used to get back to Kagoshima.
It was time to say goodbye to “moody” Yakushima.
It was almost as dark as on the day when I arrived. I will miss you nevertheless, crazy but beautiful island.
After that I still had a train ride to Nagasaki ahead of me.
Yes, from Yakushima to Kagoshima to Nagasaki … all in one day! That’s how crazy my schedule usually is.
Maybe you noticed that hiking through the primeval forests of Yakushima shouldn’t be taken lightly. Proper preparation is necessary!
I highly recommend you get the Yakushima guidebook “Yakushima: A Yakumonkey Guide“. It will be a great help.