Adventure Travel in Yakushima: Walking the Ancient Forest of the Gods

Head to Yakushima Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You'll explore ancient forests and towering mountains. Book your journey with JAL Vacations today.
Adventure Travel in Yakushima: Walking the Ancient Forest of the Gods
Experience & Photo powered by Kammui.com

Discover the ancient forests of Yakushima with JAL Vacations.

JAL Vacations Yakushima Adventure Package

JAL Vacations Yakushima Adventure Package

Destination: Yakushima

Highlights: Hiking and nature

Length: One day

Travel style: Local optional activities

Type of experience: Outdoor activities

English-speaking assistance: Available

Recommended season for this vacation package: Year-round

Surround yourself with millennia-old Japanese cedar trees, soaring mountains, and moss-covered landscapes. Yakushima is one of the most striking islands in Kagoshima Prefecture of southwest Japan. Situated about 75 kilometers from the Kyushu mainland, it’s become a leading adventure travel destination. In fact, Yakushima was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Covered in subtropical evergreen forests, Yakushima Island is home to 1,900 plant species unique to the region.

For lovers of adventure travel, taking a day trip to Yakushima with JAL Vacations is an incredible decision. Expert tour guides will lead you through ancient Yakushima forests throughout this pristine destination. Plus, you'll climb breathtaking summits and get up close with Yakushima cedar trees dating back over a thousand years.

You’ll stop for lunch in splendid locations and admire the scenery along the way. Ready to discover Japan's oldest forest? Book your journey with JAL Vacations to roam Yakushima’s awe-inspiring forests. Perfect for adventure any time of year, there’s never a bad time to experience Yakushima's beauty.

Yakushima Island - An untouched adventure travel destination

Yakushima Island - An untouched adventure travel destination

Yakushima is one of Japan's most special adventure travel destinations. Unspoiled for thousands of years, it's the ideal spot to encounter the world from a bygone time. Governed by strict local regulations, the island's forests are closely protected. This ensures human intervention hasn't negatively affected its fascinating biodiversity.

Hiding within the forest and along the coastline is some incredible wildlife. For example, Yakushima is one of the most important places for Loggerhead Turtle, home to three nesting sites. Meanwhile, Yakushima is one of the few places in the world where you can find the Erabu Flying Fox.

The geological scenery is equally impressive. Despite Yakushima's small size, it features 39 mountains rising above 1,000 meters. The highest of them all is Mount Miyanoura, which soars to 1,936 meters above sea level. In addition, the island features natural landmarks ranging from waterfalls to sandy beaches. It won't take long to discover why this place is so special for adventure travel.

As adventure tourism is on the rise worldwide, Yakushima has become a top destination in Japan. Adventure travel is about experiencing natural landmarks with an active mindset. According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), adventure tourism must include at least two of the following features: activity, nature, and intercultural experiences.

Fortunately, the JAL Vacations itinerary for Yakushima is designed especially for adventure tourism. Book your journey today to discover the wonders of adventure travel.

Yakushima’s best adventure travel activities

Adventure travel doesn’t get much better than this tour with JAL Vacations. Supported by experienced guides from Kammui, a leading adventure tourism company, you’ll get to know precisely what makes Yakushima so special. Below, we highlight the major destinations you’ll visit during this majestic journey into the ancient landscape.

Explore Shiratani Unsuikyo and Taiko-iwa in the mist

Explore Shiratani Unsuikyo and Taiko-iwa in the mist
Experience & Photo powered by Kammui.com

Step into the beautiful Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine alongside an expert guide. This moss-covered landscape inspired the enchanted forest and forest spirit from 'Princess Mononoke,' the acclaimed Studio Ghibli film. The film’s head artist Oga Kazuo visited the forest numerous times to capture its remarkable shades of green.

But this cinematic history isn’t the only exciting thing about the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine. It's also one of the most accessible spots in Yakushima to view 'yakusugi.' These special Japanese cedar trees must be at least 1,000 years old to earn the title. Native to Yakushima, this rare species helped the island achieve its UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Once you’ve admired the yakusugi and breathed in the fresh forest air, you’ll climb a steep mountain trail near the Tsuji Toge Pass to arrive at Taiko-iwa. Emerging above the forest, this rocky summit provides panoramic views across the island. After a total of 6.5 hours in the forest, you’ll have gained excellent insight into the region’s ancient landscape.

Depending on your departure time, you’ll need to pack your own breakfast and/or lunch, but the tour provides tasty miso soup and coffee. The course also requires some fitness to complete. Yet the 5.6-kilometer round trip is accessible for most visitors. There’s also a free hotel pickup service for guests staying between Miyanoura and Onoaida. Departure times range from 5:00 AM to 9:00 AM, depending on your hotel’s location.

Capture the mysterious wonders of Yakusugi Land

Capture the mysterious wonders of Yakusugi Land
Experience & Photo powered by Kammui.com

Love photography? It’s tough to imagine finding a more scenic forest than Yakasugi Land. This sprawling nature park is where visitors to Yakushima find some of the most impressive examples of Japanese cedar. Following the Kobanayama Course, you’ll wander along crystal-clear streams and navigate moss-covered rocks deep in the forest.

Bringing along a camera for each person, you’ll have several hours to shoot picture-perfect images of this dramatic landscape. Led by an expert guide, they’ll make sure you encounter the park’s most stunning landmarks during your visit. This way, you can head home with unbeatable travel photos ready to share on social media or turn into prints.

Although you’ll spend up to 8 hours in the forest, this tour is a more laid-back alternative to other adventures. Covering a total distance of about 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) for the round trip, you’ll still have plenty of energy to explore the rest of the island during your visit. There’s no way better to experience a serene wander through Yakushima’s age-old forests.

Take a photo trek deep into Shiratani Unsuikyo

Take a photo trek deep into Shiratani Unsuikyo
Experience & Photo powered by Kammui.com

Combine the wonders of art and adventure during this guided trek to Shiratani Unsuikyo. Following a particularly scenic course, you’ll complete a 3.6 miles (5.8 kilometers) hike across 8 hours. Along the way, you'll rise from the mossy depths of the gorge to picturesque hilltop lookout points, camera in hand. This photo tour is exceptional for observing and documenting this special landmark.

Perfect for amateur photographers, this adventure activity is all about taking beautiful images. This way, you don't have to worry about covering too much ground. For this reason, it's ideal for travelers looking to explore Shiratani Unsuikyo at a gradual pace. Moving from one peaceful spot to the next, clicking the shutter button has never felt more satisfying.

This trek is led by Takuya Tabira, a professional nature photographer who has lived in Yakushima for over 20 years. This knowledge means he can provide unmatched insight into Shiratani Unsuikyo’s biodiversity. Plus, he can help you take stunning photographs. Takuya is also your expert guide for the other adventures on this itinerary. 

How to get to Yakushima?

How to get to Yakushima?

You don't have to head far from the mainland to reach Yakushima Island. This helps make it one of the more accessible Japanese islands for travelers looking for adventure.

Departing from Tokyo, you can catch flights from Tokyo International Airport to Yakushima Airport. The quickest flights take three hours, including a short stopover at Kagoshima Airport.

You can also fly to Kagoshima Airport from Tokyo International Airport on JAL. Then, take a high-speed boat from Kagoshima Port to Yakushima’s Anbo Port (2 to 3 hours).

If you’d like to take a rental car to Yakushima, you can catch the slower car ferry from Kagoshima Port to Miyanoura Port (4 hours).

Don't forget to use the JAL Japan Explorer Pass when planning your visit. It provides access to affordable fares to more than 30 locations across the JAL domestic network.

Why book a JAL Vacations package?

Booking a JAL Vacations package is one of the best ways to experience Japan’s incredible nature and culture. Using this service, you can build your own package featuring flights, hotels, car rentals, and activities. This way, you'll tailor your Yakushima adventure to your specific needs, no matter your preferences.

Whether you’re looking for a high-end hotel or a low-key traditional guesthouse, finding the ideal stay for your trip is simple. In addition, you can book optional extras like rental cars, pre-paid SIM cards, and rail passes. Together, this all-in-one booking saves you money. Plus, it ensures you benefit from a hassle-free vacation.

Book your adventure today

Traveling to Yakushima Island is a stellar way to get immersed in adventure. If you’re ready to depart, planning your journey with JAL Vacations makes creating your dream holiday easy. Organize your flights, hotels, car rental, and activities all in one place. Setting off on an adventure has never been easier.

Don't miss your chance to experience the biodiversity of Yakushima. This special adventure package ensures you soak it up alongside outstanding hiking activities. Plus, you'll make the most of your time away from the mainland. Head to JAL Vacations today to book your fascinating adventure tour.

Getting There