Travel

Yakusugi Land and Museum (Yakushima Day 2)

If you haven’t yet you should first check out Yakushima Day 1: Waterfalls and Fruit Garden.
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! smilie
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.

Visited: January 4th 2012

Yakushima Yakusugi Museum

Yakusugi Museum

The Yakusugi Museum (屋久杉自然観) is very close to Anbo Port.

Although it’s a museum you can enjoy the smell of Yakushima cedar trees there.

Yakushima Yakusugi Museum

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.

Yakushima Yakusugi Museum Yakushima Yakusugi Museum

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.

Yakushima Yakusugi Museum

There are also some onsen and caves on Yakushima! I wanted to go, but because of the strong waves I couldn’t.

 

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

Yakusugi Land

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).
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!

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

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.

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

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.

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

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.

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

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.

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

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.

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

No worries. Yakusugi Land has so many beautiful spots!

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

Fallen trunk and a new tree has grown on it!

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

The Great Buddha Cedar!

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

Attention! Be careful not to bump your head!
Nature doesn’t care about the human visitors that come! smilie

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

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!

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

It could be a background scene of a fantasy movie!

 

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

Yakushima’s crazy weather!

I left Yakusugi Land and was driving around a little to figure out what to do next.
The weather had gotten crazy again …

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

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.

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

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!

 

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

Shitoko Gajumaru-en Banyan Garden

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).
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.

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

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! smilie

 

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

Exploring a secret spot

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.

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

I’m glad I went! There was nothing special, but it was simply beautiful!

Yakushima Yakusugi Land

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.

13 Comments

  • I really love Yakushima. It has EVERYTHING in such a small package. That goes also for the weather though. At least it’s hard to get bored there and I stayed 6 days/5 nights!

    • Ukraine? Are you traveling right now or what? *g*
      Wow, you stayed 6 days? I bet you saw every tiny bit of the island then?
      Well, I did everything I could in that weather! Even if I stayed longer it would have been impossible to hike up to the top. I need to go again one day!

    • It does! It could be out of a commercial!!
      And all I did was hitting the shutter! That’s just how awesome it looked at that time! :D

      Haa~i! :music2:
      I’m looking forward to the post myself, too!
      I’m trying to finish my winter vacation posts first, though.
      Only a few more to go!

      P.S.: I’m glad that you’re commenting so much here recently! Thanks so much! :hearts:

  • Yakushima is a pradise! Your pictures are pretty. :thumbup:

    Did you happen to see any monkey in the forest? I saw from the documentary film 日本列島:いきものたちの物語 the monkeys in Yakushima and how the place gets rain almost 50% the whole year through.

    It would be thrilling if you get to reach the top in good weather.

    • Yakushima is stunning even for people who live in the countryside like me!
      It’s such a great island for exploring nature!
      I hope you can go there some day! :D

  • These pictures and your posts about Yakushima are great! really makes me wanna make the effort to go even though i’m on a tight schedule

    For the Jetfoil ferry from Kagoshima, do we need to book reservation tickets ahead of time or can we just buy it at the port?

    Thanks

    • Thank you so much! ^__^
      I didn’t reserve a ticket. I just bought it right before leaving.
      It depends when you go. I went in winter when it’s low season. The jetfoil was almost empty!