Yakushima (Island) National Park
A volcanic island with 1,000-year-old trees which teem with life
Yakushima Island has steep terrain with the highest peaks in Kyushu, along with a remarkable natural forest containing giant 1,000-year-old Japanese cedars. The natural beauty of the island is recognized as an outstanding World Heritage site. Kuchinoerabu-jima Island is the largest of the volcanic Satsunan Islands, where fumarole activity continues. The eastern part of the isle exhibits volcanic landscapes while the coastal region has unique cliffs and sea caves eroded by strong wave action.
Visiting Japan's National Parks
Yakushima National Park, like all of Japan's national parks, has no entrance fees, no opening and closing hours, and a permit is not required to enter or stay in the park. The national parks of Japan differ from national parks worldwide in that the land within the national parks is not exclusively designated for national park use and is made up of private property as well as public and protected areas. Visitors are free to enter and leave at any time.
Yakushima Island has mountains over 1,800 m and the climate around the peaks is similar to that of Sapporo in Hokkaido. Therefore, a variety of vegetation from the subtropical zone to the cool temperate zone can be seen on the island, depending on elevation.
- Explore the old-growth forest in the Shirataniunsui-kyo Ravine
- Visit the Western Area to spot monkeys and deer native to the island
- View the volcanically active Mt. Furu-dake
Japanese cedars are an endemic species that only grow wild in Japan and the areas where you can see the natural forests are limited. The age of Japanese cedars is generally around 500 years, but trees more than 1,000 years old exist on Yakushima Island.
The most attractive feature of Yakushima Island is the mountains. There are over 39 mountains with peaks higher than 1,000 m, with Mt. Miyanoura (1936 m) at the top of the list as the highest mountain in Kyushu. Indeed, Yakushima's mountains include the top eight highest peaks in Kyushu. The mountains that can be seen from villages, such as Mt. Mocchomu (940 m), are almost 1,000 m tall.
Okono-taki Falls are magnificent waterfalls at a height of 88 m, which are representative of Yakushima Island. An attractive feature is the change in the falls just after a period of rainfall, when the water runs over bedrock for a stretch on the island.
Nagata Beach is where loggerhead turtles lay eggs in Japan and is listed as a Ramsar Site of the Ramsar Convention. You can overlook Kuchinoerabu-jima Island on the East China Sea from the beach. The beach is the largest sandy beach on Yakushima Island, and visitors can observe sea turtles laying eggs in May and July.
Jomon-sugi cedars are the largest of all the Yaku cedars aged 1,000 years or more. Various opinions put the age of the trees at between 2,000 and 7,500 years. The stocky shape of the trees is a characteristic of Yaku cedars growing in areas subject to regular typhoons.