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  • Day72

    Yakushima Island

    May 21, 2019 in Japan ⋅ 🌬 15 °C

    The forests on Yakushima island are said to have been the inspiration for (my favourite) one of Hayao Miyazaki’s anime movies “Princess Mononoke”. That and the fact that there’s great hiking on this small island fixed the idea of taking the rather long journey south firmly in my head. Since the trip was my idea, planning it was on my court as well. Hence, not a lot of planning went into it. (Jo says: what a lie! Tom read about 10 blog posts about where to go and what to do)

    Yakushima is a 25km diameter island south of Kyushu which can be reached in 2 hours via Jetfoil ferry. We chose the date of the ferry based on the weather forecast on a Tuesday. And boy, was that a good idea. On the train down south we heard the news that 300 hikers had to be rescued from the mountain trails due to torrential rain falls over the weekend. While tragic for the hikers (noone was injured) this event set the scene for a truely unique experience for us.

    Our plan was to go on a three day hike staying in remote and free mountain huts. We were going to rent a cooker and sleeping mats in town, everything else was packed in our backpacks. However, after the lady in the information ascertained us that the main trail to the mountain is closed due to the heavy rain fall, we decided to take the earlier bus instead of renting the equipment first and just do a short walk. So we thought.

    After about an hour of walking we were told that all the trails are in fact open. So what do you do. Stick to the plan and look for a hostel in town or just go for it and figure out how to turn Udon noodles into food without a cooker later? Exactly, uncooked Udon it is if it means an awesome hike like this one.

    The false information dished out in the town center meant we were walking on a normally super busy trail through a magical japanese forest by ourselves!! I think the photos speak for themselves.

    Food-wise, luck was on our side in the end as well. A group of four senior hikers joined us in the small shelter and graciously shared their cooker with us after a bit of chit chat.

    After a fairly short night we got up with the rest of the group at 3:30am and made our way towards the summit of Mt Myanoura. 2 hours later we appreciated an unobscured 360 degree view from 1936m above sea level. A brief 6 hour stroll later we were back at the bus stop happily avoiding another night on a wooden floor and actually uncooked noodles and headed for Myanoura town. (Jo says: Luckily, the local hostel still had two beds available. And a Japanese bath tub to rejuvenate our tired legs. ) The island not only offers prestine hiking but also amazing natural Onsen (hot springs) on the rocky beach which we enjoyed on our last day.

    Stats (approx)
    Total elevation gain 1300m
    Cumulative elevation gain: 1900m
    Total time: 13h

    Jo says: Three days of sunshine on an island where according to a local “it rains 35days a month”. In German I’d say: “vom Glück geküsst”. Thankful for how lucky we are!
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