This Week in Yakushima – 17 May 2022
This week I headed to Yakushima, an island in southern Kyushu, 135 km from Kagoshima City, famous for its mountains, ancient cedar forests and wildlife.
The various ecosystems which exist at different altitudes make Yakushima unique. Each has its own vegetation and landscape which is internationally renowned. In fact, Yakushima was officially registered as Japan’s first World Natural Heritage Site (along with the Shirakami mountains in Akita) in 1993.
You can get there by sea or by air. I chose to fly from Kagoshima. All the flights are run by JAL. A decent percentage of flights turn back in bad weather or if the winds coming off the mountains make landing unsafe. Luckily all went well and I made it on time to this magical island.
My first stop was the Yakushima Aging Cellar, full of Mars Whisky made at their distilleries in Shinshu and Tsunuki. I was honoured to receive a tour from the manager Tanaka-san, and checked out both the whisky ageing warehouse and their shochu distillery.
After that, I headed to Oko no taki Waterfall. With a drop of 88 metres, Oko-no-taki is on Japan’s top 100 falls. As you can see if the featured image, it is absolutely spectacular.
The next day, I hiked Mocchomu Dake. It’s a relentless climb through cedar forests, across moss-covered rocks and tree roots, but this spectacular view 980m above sea level is your reward.
I definitely deserved a reward after that gruelling hike, and the terroir-driven ice cream at Soraumi did the job. Banana and Salt Milk flavours, made with 100% island ingredients. Highly recommended, along with a visit to this island paradise. We continue…