Mt. Mocchomu, 3 hours from the Hara trail entrance, is located in the southern part of the island and can be seen from the villages of Hara and Onoaida. It is a very uniquely shaped mountain that has an exposed granite surface. Because of its appearance, Mt. Mocchomu, at a height of 940 meters, is called the Matterhorn of the East.
A 15-minute drive up into the mountain from Yakusugi Land will bring you to Kigensugi, a giant cedar tree that can be seen alongside the road. The tree is 19.5 meters high with a circumference of 8.1 meters. It is the biggest Yakusugi cedar tree accessible by car.
Yakusugi Land is a natural recreational forest park covering an area of 270 hectares and is located at an altitude of about 1,000 meters. From Yakushima airport, it can be accessed by car in about 80 minutes. You can see a number of giant Yakusugi cedar trees while enjoying the scenery of the virgin forest, similar to the world heritage site. Yakusugi land is a mixed forest of conifers (Yukusugi cedars and Japanese hemlocks) and many broad-leaved trees (evergreen camellia, oak trees, mountain ash, and aralia which turn a beautiful red and yellow in autumn). In this primitive forest you can also see many distinctive cedar trees such as Sennensugi cedar, Kugurisugi cedar, and Buddhasugi cedar. The park has four maintained hiking trails, a 30, 50, 80, and 150-minute course options to choose from.
Willson’s Stump is a remnant of a large Yakusugi cedar tree cut down around 300 years ago. It has a large hollow area inside where a spring flowing out of the ground makes a shadow stream running out of the stump. There are three younger cedar trees, descendants of Wilson’s Stump, growing by it, a good example of regeneration. Dr. E. H. Wilson, an American botanist, researching Yakusugi cedars discovered a large stump in the Taisho Era (1912 – 1926). This stump was later named after him.
Jomonsugi Cedar is considered the largest Yakusugi cedar tree found on Yakushima Island. It has a height of 25.3 meters and a trunk circumference of 16.4 meters. It is estimated to be over 2,000 years old or as old as 7,200 years old. The ratio of trunk size to height gives it a stocky appearance but there is a dignified atmosphere with Jomonsugi Cedar growing on a slope. The story of the existence of a gigantic Yakusugi cedar tree was passed down from olden times and in 1966 Sadatsugu Iwagawa, a resident of Miyanoura, finally found the tree. Because it was believed to be a living fossil from the Jomon Period (10,000 – 300BC), the tree was named Jomonsugi. It is about 4 hours from Arakawa trail entrance by way of the tram-road and the Ohkabu mountain trail. An observation deck was built to protect Jomonsugi Cedar from the increasing visitors. Yakushima Island’s cedar trees over 1,000 years old are called “Yakusugi” and the younger cedar trees are called “Kosugi” meaning young cedars.
Hananoego Highland Marsh
It is a highland marsh located at the trail entrance to Mt. Kuromi and is at an altitude of 1,640 meters. The high moor looks like a Japanese garden. The combination of skeleton Yakusugi cedar trees, juniper, alpine rose, clear water, and moss covering the ground creates a fantastic view. It is about 130 minutes from Yodogawa trail entrance.
Mt. Kuromi at 1,831 meters is one of the three famous mountains of Yakushima Island. The summit of Mt. Kuromi has many huge and spectacular granite boulders. From the summit, several well-known mountains that are part of “ the Alps on the Ocean” can be seen. Climbing from Yodogawa trail entrance to the top of the mountain is a 10-kilometer round trip, about 6 hours. It is considered to be an advanced climbing route.
Mt. Miyanoura at a height of 1,936 meters is Kyushu’s highest mountain. From the top of the mountain, you can see the crests of other mountains with their oddly shaped rock formations. Many Yakushima rhododendrons can also be seen especially during early spring when the rhododendrons are in full bloom. From mid October to early November, the colors of autumn leaves are at its best. During the winter months, the mountains may be covered with snow, up to 3 to 6-meters in some places. So please be well prepared for winter climbing. Climbing from Yodogawa trail entrance to the top is a 10-hour round trip. It is an advanced climb.
Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine
Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine is 12-kilometers (a 25-minute drive) from Miyanoura. It is a natural recreational forest where you can see the virgin forest at an altitude of 800-meters covering an area of 424 hectares. The forest park consists of three hiking courses (Yayoisugi course, Bugyosugi course, and Taikoiwa course). The hiking courses offer beautiful views of mountain streams and many ancient cedar trees including Yayoisugi Cedar (over 3,000 years old), Bibinkosugi Cedar, and Bugyosugi Cedar. You can also see moss and fern covering evergreen trees, Yakusugi cedar trees, and the forest ground. You can also see gigantic overlapping stone, deep canyons, and Shiratani River running through the virgin forest. In spring, rhododendrons and cherry azalea bloom along the river. The beauty is like that of Japanese gardens. On the Taikoiwa course, you can see “Moss Forest” which is said to have inspired the animated film “Princess Mononoke.”
Mt. Aiko is located in the northeastern part of Yakushima Island. On a clear day, Mt. Aiko can be seen from the villages of Koseda and Nagamine. This is the only mountain with the same name as Princess Aiko. The summit with its granite outcrops has a great view of many well-known mountain peaks. The trail entrance is in the village of Koseda. It is a 7-kilometer hike to the summit taking 3 hours and 40 minutes.
Mt. Nagata at a height of 1,886 meters is the second highest mountain in Kyushu after Mt. Miyanoura. A spectacular view of Mt. Nagata can be seen from the village of Nagata. Mt. Nagata is the only mountain of the Okudake Mountains (the inner mountains of Yakushima Island) that can be seen fully without climbing. From its summit, you can see the Yakusugi cedar forest, the sea turtle nesting beach, and coral reefs. Huge granite outcrops on the summit of Mt. Nagata make for a unique landscape. The climbing route to the summit of Mt. Nagata is for the advanced level climbers. It is difficult to climb and return in one day.
Taikoiwa Rock is a granite boulder located at a height of 1,050 meters. On a clear day, you can have a spectacular panoramic view from the boulder. The boulder gives a great view of the Okudake Mountains including Kyushu’s highest mountain, Mt. Miyanoura.
A two and a half hour walk from Onoaida Hot Spring through a broadleaf forest and a subtropical forest will take you to Janokuchi-no-taki Waterfall where the water plunges down a 30-meter high granite rock. You can relax and indulge yourself while feeling the pleasant breeze around the basin.