Yakushima is a beautiful island where nature is left untouched. The ancient Sugi trees used to be logged, but that has stopped and some of the true giants have been left standing. There are numerous hiking trails, but some of them require bringing your own gear (like a backpack, tent and sleeping bag). If you are here for a short while and still want to enjoy nature up close, then Yakusugi Land is your safest bet. There are a number of walks you can do, most of them easy, and you can get up close to the big trees. Of course, this IS Japan, so a lot of the walks come with a 'walkway' and plenty of ancient Japanese in bright colored gear.
My top 3 traveling spots: 1.Shiratani Unsuikyo Valley A nice hike, you can make it as short or long as you like. We hiked the green route on our way to Taiko-iwa (which was a pretty steep climb at the end, but worthwhile for the view), and the yellow trail back. With occasional breaks it took us 5 hours. Just amazing, the cedars, the green shades of mos, and the little rivers you cross.
2.Yakusugi Land This is the shortest hike out of the big three (Shiratani Unsuikyo, Jomon Sugi), even for the long course (about two hours). It's an easy hike, with some very nice scenery and a lot of old, impressive trees. Tip: take the morning bus all the way to Kigensugi (an impressive 3000 year old tree), then take the return bus to Yakusugi-land 20 minutes later for a chance to see both places and a slightly shorter day waiting for buses.
3.Taikoiwa The hike to get therewas great. Its not that difficult, the trail is marked and often there are conveniently placed stones and ropes to help you along. You'll meet people along the trail, and everyone we met was friendly and smiling. The last few meters to the taiko rock are a bit steep, but the view is fantastic!
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