Trail along morning ice
Miyanoura-dake is the highest mountain on the Japanese island Yakushima.
Taking into account that Yakushima is a rather small island, it offers the possibility to climb from sea level to the top in a 2 or 3 day tour. Such a tour involves the passing of a number of vegetation zones from dense and wet subtropical forests towards an open alpine landscape - highly recommended.
Summit view Sunrise over the Pacific Ocean
Yakushima is located 60 km south of the the southern tip of Kyushu and belongs to the Osumi islands. Since 1993 Yakushima is listed as a Natural World Heritage by the UNESCO. This nomination is mainly due to the dense and natural forests in the core area containing the Yakusugi cedar trees with ages of 2000 years and more. Reasons for this attractions are one of the worlds highest precipitation and the remoteness of the mountain area. The humid climate makes Miyanoura-dake and its surrounding mountains the southernmost points of Japan covered by snow in winter for several months.
The weather and the geographical location in between the East Chinese Sea and the Pacific Ocean can turn a climb more challenging as the height and southern latitude might imply.
Most connections of Yakushima with Kyushu are to the city of Kagoshima. Kagoshima is accessible by train or bus from Fukuoka. From 2011 the Kyushu Shinkansen railway line enables a direct bullet train connection with Tokyo.
The most common way of transport is by Jetfoil. Two companies run about six daily connections between Kagoshima port and the town of Miyanoura on Yakushima. Please check the link section for timetables.
Yakushima also has a small airport and most connections are with Kagoshima on Kyushu.
The local transport on Yakushima to the trailheads is by bus. Buses go around the Island with an interval of about one hour. For the route starting at Onoaida onsen, Take the bus from Miyanoura to Nagata and get off at Onoaida onsen. If you want to start higher up change the bus at Anbo. From there take the bus to Yakusugiland. Get off at the final stop of Kusugi just 20 min away from the Yodogawa trailhead.
Don't hesitate to ask the bus drivers about the destinations, even if you don't speak Japanese. They also don't speak English but will give you a timetable in English and may tell you when your final destination is reached. The first bus from Miyanoura starts at around 8 am. The last bus is leaving from Kusugi very early at around 2 pm.
Will be added soon in the corresponding section.
No fee, just register in the boxes at the trailheads when you enter and leave.
There is a seaside camp site at the southern end of Miyanoura which was unfortunately closed in March and the owner didn't allow anyone to stay on the completely unused space. Some sources say that it is open from April, but this is not sure.
Free camping is allowed at the Yodogawa hut. In summer most hiker prefer to stay in the tent. Either you come early or you use the simple but clean logger-style hut that sleeps more than 20 people. Beside the hut is a clean river that provides drinking water.
Yakushima is one of the wettest places in the world with a precipitation of up to 10,000 mm per year. Locals claim it rains "35 days per month." In connection with the high temperatures in summer it makes hiking a challenge - not only due to the climate but also due to the fast growing vegetation. Especially on the less frequently used trails one has to compeed with bushes growing over the path and numbers of large trees fallen over the trail. In summer bring along some salt or tobacco to fight leeches.
A comprehensive website on Yakushima
in English with information on everything interesting for hikers
Excellent topographic online maps covering whole Japan
and the corresponding map of Miyanoura-dake
Japanese mountain database
for trains on hypedia
or the JR Kyushu website
and for the ferry and jetfoils of Cosmo Line
(in Japanese only)
Weather forecast of Japan Meteorological Agency
Lonely Planet "Hiking in Japan"
Yakushima map (in Japanese) 1:50,000