As an island located in the southwestern end of the Japanese archipelago with a range of mountains over 1,000 meters, Yakushima has a wide temperature range and a diversity of Japanese flora that is distributed according to altitude. It is also home to a large number of giant Japanese cedars more than a thousand years old. Recognizing the status of these Yakushima cedars and the unique vertical plant distributions, the island was inscribed as the Japan’s first World Natural Heritage site in 1993 (the Shirakami-Sanchi site was inscribed at the same time).

Yakushima is nicknamed the “island of water”, such is the amount of rainfall it receives. This water plays a key role in maintaining the unique biodiversity and scenery of the island. Visitors must take care to always use the toilets provided, not to wash their dishes in streams or litter, not to stray from marked trails, and to avoid stepping on moss growing on rocks and fallen tree trunks. Damage to flora and landscapes is not easily undone.

Yakushima boasts a large number of trekking trails that offer opportunities to encounter the unique natural environment of the island in a way that respects the wildlife and scenery. The route to the Jomonsugi cedar, said to be between 2,170 and 7,200 years old, is only the best-known. Why not also enjoy other aspects of the island’s natural beauty, like the deep Shiratani Unsuikyo forest covered in hundreds of varieties of moss in a beautiful gorge or clamber to the top of the great Taikoiwa (Drum) rock for a view of the island.