neighbouring islands

urata tanegashimaNeighbouring island of Yakushima include Tanegashima and Kuchinoerabujima and both are accessible from Yakushima.

Tanegashima (種子島)

Just a few kilometer away from Yakushima is Tanegashima.  This long and flat island is a short ferry or hydrofoil journey away from Yakusima.  Measuring about 57 km long, but only 12 km wide, Tanegashima’s flat coastline has a circumference of about 186 km and its highest point is 282m.  The population of approx. 31,000 is divided into three main areas (one city and two towns), Nishinoomote city(西之表市) in the north (ferry terminal), Nakatane town (中種子) in the centre and Minamitane town (南種子) in the south.

The climate of Tanegashima is temperate and sub-tropical.  It is drier than Yakushima.  The main industry is agriculture and the products of note include sugar cane and sweet potatoes.

Tanegashima Space StationTanegashima is the location of Japan’s space programme – JAXA. The Tanegashima Space Center is said to have the most beautiful launch site in the world!  Launches occur about five times a year and observers often visit Tanegashima to coincide with a launch as the observation deck is located only a few kilometers from the launch pad.  However, you can also get a good view of a rocket launch from Yakushima on the east side of the island.  The Tanegashima Space Center also has an interesting museum and they offer short tours around the launch site and hangars.

The coast on the east side of the island has many long, sandy beaches.  From the North going southwards there is Urata (浦田), Yokino (能野) and Nagahama (長浜) beach. The Nagahama coastline boasts 12 km of sandy beaches.  Marine sports such as surfing, sea kayaking and scuba diving are very popular.  Tanegashima is known as Japan`s best surfing location.

Tanegashima is historically important as it was here that Europeans first made contact with the Japanese in 1542.  A few Portuguese sailing upon a Chinese vessel brought sweet potatoes and muskets, and both items changed the course of Japanese history in different ways.

Getting to Tanegashima???????????????????????????????Toppy Jet Foil

An early morning Toppy Jet Foil departs from Anbo (安房) at 07:00.  The Toppy Jet Foil departs Miyanoura (宮之浦) at 10:00 & 16:20.  The journey takes 45 mins.

A return Toppy Jet Foil departs Tanegashima at 09:20 and arrives at Miyanoura.  The 12:10 & 17:40 departures arrive at Anbo.

Hibiscus

The Hibiscus departs Miyanorua at 08:20 and arrives at Tanegashima at 10:10.  The Hibiscus departs Tanegashima at 05:10 and arrives at Miyanoura at 07:00.

Kuchinoerabujima (口永良部島)

Kuchinoerabujima VolcanoKuchinoerabujima is located to the west of YakushimaThe island is gourd-shaped, measuring roughly 12 km long and 5 km wide.  It is home to an active volcano that has a 200m wide crater and has erupted several times since records began in 1841.  The most recent large eruption was May 2015, but smaller eruptions occur regularly.  The island is inhabited with a population of around 150 people

Due to its volcanic nature there are plenty of hot springs on the island.  It is also a popular fishing destination.  Motomura (本村) is the harbor district and the center of the island.  The majority of the island’s population is concentrated in Motomura and this is where shops, schools, gas stations, etc. are located.

There are daily ferries to Motomura from Miyanoura in Yakushima, but once upon the island there is no public transport.

Getting to Kuchinoerabujima

Ferry Taiyou (フェリー太陽)

The ferry leaves Miyanoura (宮之浦) at 08:10 and 13:00.  The journey takes 90 minutes.  The ferry returns to Miyanoura at 10:30 and 15:20.