Yakushima Onsen

August 4, 2009

Yakushima (屋久島), as you may know, is one of the major islands off the southern coast of Japan. Just like Tanegashima, it’s less than two hours from Kagoshima Port by ferry. And it’s unique. As unique as any other island out here. Where Tanegashima is sandy and tropical, Yakushima is very much a wilderness, with rocky shores and trees thousands of years old.

I’m just recently starting to discover the wonders of these southern islands; there are three directly to the south, the Mishima group (Takeshima, Ioujima, Kuroshima), and a collection south of Yakushima, the Tokara islands (one that is supposedly the subject of the story Treasure Island).

But I digress, more on Yakushima…

Onoaida Onsen (尾之間温泉)

A small little onsen just off the highway, about a 15 minute walk from Onoaida. It also happens to be at the base of one of the popular trailheads. Not a bad starting point if you’re intent from beginning at the base of the mountain, but I prefer taking a bus past the “boring” areas.

They have towels, but no soap. The bath is very hot, a little sulfurous, and more than relaxing. Perfect for coming off the trail at day’s end.

Ohura no Yu (おふらの湯)

Don’t even bother. Coming from Isso Beach, I was expecting a semi-luxurious onsen set in the wilderness, with full facilities. Instead, I find a run-down bathhouse a 20 minute walk from the highway in what could never be construed as a romantic area. The bath is small, no soap is provided, and the water doesn’t feel even remotely onsen-like.

Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen

A great natural outdoor onsen on the rocky shore. Unfortunately it’s only full as long as the tide is in (midnight and noon when I was there in August).

Access to Island

Cosmo Line operates three Rocket jetfoils.
¥5,000 one-way, ¥9,000 roundtrip

Kagoshima (鹿児島) –> Yakushima (屋久島)

09:00 –> 10:50
12:20 –> 13:10
16:00 –> 18:45 (stops at Tanegashima)

Yakushima (屋久島) –> Kagoshima (鹿児島)

07:20 –> 10:05 (stops at Tanegashima)
12:00 –> 13:50
15:50 –> 18:30 (stops at Tanegashima)

A notice: there are no vending machines on this ship and it moves too quickly to allow you to step outside.

Toppy operates its own jetfoils, albeit at a slightly higher price than Cosmo Line.
¥7,000 one-way, ¥12,600 roundtrip

Kagoshima (鹿児島) –> Yakushima (屋久島)

07:30 –> 10:30 (stops at Tanegashima)
07:40 –> 09:45 (stops at Ibusuki)
10:20 –> 13:00 (stops at Tanegashima, arrives at Anbo port)
13:10 –> 14:55
15:50 –> 18:30 (stops at Tanegashima, arrives at Anbo port)

Yakushima (屋久島) –> Kagoshima (鹿児島)

07:00 –> 09:35 (departs from Anbo port, stops at Tanegashima)
10:00 –> 12:40 (stops at Tanegashima)
10:45 –> 12:30
13:40 –> 15:35 (departs from Anbo port)
16:20 –> 19:15 (stops at Tanegashima, Ibusuki)

Other Observations

– Be wary of centipedes (gejigeji, 蚰蜒); they may not be fatal, but could put parts of you out of commission.
– The center of Yakushima is almost like a basin for catching clouds; even in the non-rainy seasons, you might find yourself in the midst of a rainforest.

More pictures of Yakushima

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