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Yakushima is an island located in 60km (37.3 miles) to the south of the southernmost tip of Kyushu island. With a climate ranging from subtropical to cool-temperate, its diverse and highly unique ecosystem and beautiful nature have been highly regarded nationally but not generally known outside Japan.

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Visiting Japan in February, where could we go ? – we asked ourselves. As far south as possible, but not Okinawa. That’s how we ended up on this island.

We flew south from Kagoshima and the flight was about 35 minutes.
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The airport is tiny. This is the main entrance.

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Our ryokan is near the airport which is on the east side of the island about half way between Anbo and Miyanoura. We did not know it was located just across the main road from the airport. The taxi driver had a good laugh when he found out where we were going and had to unload our bags.

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Yakushima is developed only along its coast except in the west where the steep mountain slopes run all the way into the sea. A road encircles the island connecting the towns together, and the majority of Yakushima’s hotels, beaches, hot springs, and museums are within a short distance of it. The main attraction – the cedar forests are located in the mountainous interior and are accessed by a few roads from the larger towns, such as Miyanoura and Anbo, which lead to the various hiking trails and nature parks.

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Miyanoura (above) is the largest town in Yakushima, home to the Miyanoura Port where the ferries from Kagoshima arrive and depart.

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We did not bother to rent a car and relied on public transport to see Shiratani Unsuikyo and Yakusugi Land (see later posts). Buses run about once per hour along Yakushima’s coast. We passed small villages along the main road and saw a cemetery by the sea.

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Vending machines by the main road.

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Local hardware store and supermarket – also by the main road.

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Since it was offseason, buses into the interior were down to twice a day: from Miyanoura Port to Shiratani Unsuikyo and from Anbo Town to Yakusugi Land.

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We were quite worried about missing the bus since there were hardly any people living in the interiors of the island.

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Anbo is the other town with a port. Most businesses appeared closed – well, it was a weekday afternoon.

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We would have bought flying fish sashimi at this fishmonger if it was open.

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The Mos burger (equivalent of McD in Japan) was open.

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The island’s business is mostly farming and tourism.  Sweet potato from this and several islands nearby are well known within Japan. This shop in Anbo sells vegetables by a honor system, take what you want and leave your money in the bucket.

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About 10 minutes walk on the main road from the airport, we found improbably an Italian restaurant – il mare – likely the only one on the island. The chef (likely also the owner) is Japanese. We were the only customer there for lunch. The place looked well kept so it must be more popular in the evening or during the summer.

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Venison bolognese was prominently featured on the menu – the deer was sourced locally. IT tried it and I had a pasta al funghi myself.

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Across the main road from our ryokan is a cedar wood workshop and showroom.  Beautifully-crafted pieces, quite expensive, but unique they are.

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There is really not much to see or do on the island – apart from hiking, waterfalls, hot springs and seeing the primordial cedar forests. Just what we needed to escape the city for a few days,

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