Shiratani Unsuikyo Tour

Shiratani Unsuikyo is relatively easy to access and therefore it is popular, but it`s popularity is well-merited.  Due to its ease of access, some visitors consider “going-it-alone” at Shiratani Unsuikyo, but by doing so then SO MUCH is missed.  Consider the Shiratani Unsuikyo Tour as a “must do” and leave the forest feeling inspired rather than just ticking it off a list. 

Depending on the weather and the specific requests of the guests then the full day Shiratani Unsuikyo tour either goes through the ‘genseirin’ route or the route to Taiko Iwa (an outcrop of granite at 1,050m).  Both routes have their merits and the YES guide can explain these before setting of on the tour.

Shiratani Unsuikyo

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Genseirin Route

The `genseirin` route is the quieter of the two routes and offers a better chance of encountering larger trees along the way.  This is a circular route.  There are a number of small rivers to cross via boulders running across the river.  The noteworthy sugi trees along this route include Nidai Osugi, Bugyo sugi and the photogenic Sanbonashi sugi (3 legged sugi)  The genseirin route also has probably the best moss area within the Shiratani Unsuikyo forest.

Taiko Iwa Route

The Shiratani Unsuikyo route to Taiko Iwa utilizes an old logging trail called the Kusugawa Trail.  The history of this trail begins around 400 years ago.  This route requires the tour to go and return along the same route.  Highlights along the Kusagawa Trail include the ‘Moss Forest’ which is often unofficially referred to as the ‘Mononoke Hime Forest.’ As the unofficial name implies, this location is connected with the Ghibli Studio animation Princess Mononoke.  You will often find walkers congregating here for the obligatory photo.  Admittedly, it is a wonderful setting. 

Beyond the Moss Forest is the climb towards Taiko Iwa. It takes around 45 minutes to reach the top of Taiko Iwa and on a clear day it has to be the highlight of the day.  The view over to the central mountains are great.  The highest mountain on the island – Miyanouradake – stands proud in the background.  There are also good views of the Arakawa Valley and Tachudake over in the distance. 

The genseirin route also utilizes the lower section of the Kusugawa Trail as part of the circular route.

Heavy rain can force the Shiratani Unsuikyo forest to be closed due to some dangerous river crossings, but we are often able to take alternative courses that can avoid these dangerous river crossings.