about yakushima

The about Yakushima section covers the island's history, geography, flora, fauna, weather and more….. 

Yakushima was the first place in Japan to gain World Heritage status for Natural Beauty.  However, if you were to take one of our YES Tours then you shall discover that this recognition has come with a price.

Yakushima has a great deal of information written about it (in Japanese!) for such a small island.  However, this was not always the case. The island was ignored by the mainland for long periods of its history due to its challenging environment.  Agricultural land was scarce and travelling around the island was difficult.  However, these factors are what now make Yakushima so appealing to the modern tourist, seeking adventure on a World Heritage island.

In terms of nature then Yakushima can hardly be bettered.  It is referred to as the 'Alps of the Ocean'.  This circular-shaped island is located around 100km south of Kagoshima City in the south of Japan.

Despite its small size, Yakushima is a land of great extremes.  With peaks just under 2000m, it has the highest mountains in the whole of Kyushu.   Rather surprisingly, the neighbouring island of Tanegashima is one of the lowest areas of land in the country and the surprise is amplified when you discover that both island share the same base rock. 

Yakushima's eco-system ranges from sub-tropical to sub-alpine which make it both the northern limit and southern limit for a wide variety of plant species and migratory birds.  This is known as the Watase Line. 

The mountains offer excellent hiking trips, but the hiking doesn't have to begin in the mountains as many of the trails begin close to the coast and soon disappear into Yakushima's vast forests.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYakushima is famed as being the home of the Yaku sugi – some of the most ancient living trees on the planet.  The island also has the indigenous deer and macaque monkeys which out-number the human inhabitants on the island.  Our information on Yakushima wildlife and tales is limited to only a few examples.  Yakushima wildlife would require a very heavy book; particularly in the insect section.

The sea around the island is abundant with a variety of life and this is thanks to the Kuroshio current.  The rivers, streams and waterfalls flow with some of the purest water in the world.

Many tourists arrive to Yakushima in fear of the weather, having heard or read frightening tales of incessant rain.  You'll be glad to know that this isn't the case.  We also have many sunny days.  It is true to say, however, that if the forecast says heavy rain then you'll be guaranteed HEAVY rain!  Yakushima does have the highest rainfall in Japan.  These picturesque moss-covered forests are here for a reason.

Explore the about Yakushima section to find a basis of background knowledge you may need to travel to the island, but if you wish to get the most out of your visit then you'd be wise to take a YES Tour and learn about Yakushima's rich culture, unique history and incredible ecology.