Have you ever wondered where famous movie Director Hayao Miyazaki got his inspiration for his movie Princess Mononoke? Spoiler: from Yakushima Island, Japan, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. Yakushima’s unique nature draws around 300,000 visitors to the island every year.

Last year I travelled to Yakushima island. I took the long trip down from Tokyo to Kagoshima in the South of Kyushu island, and from there I took the slow ferry further down south for about four more hours. 

My plan was to hike to Jomon Sugi, Japan’s oldest cedar, as well as through the forest which inspired the forest in the Studio Ghibli movie “Princess Mononoke”. Tue to horrible rains, the worst since more than 50 years, it was impossible to start the 8 hours long walk through the jungle. Either way, I fell in love with the beautiful island and took more than enough photos to make you love Yakushima as well. You don’t believe me? Please let me try!

But Firstly, a few basic facts about Yakushima Island!

Yakushima hast its own, unique eco system. The humid, subtropical climate boosts the growth of a beautiful subtropical evergreen forest on the whole island. Because of the above average number of rain days, soil on the island is poor in nutrition, which makes the trees grow much slower than on the main islands of Japan. This results in trees which become a few thousand years old.

Those concatenation of circumstances are the reason why the island hold the oldest trees in whole Japan. And while the island only has a small population of about 13,000, the nature draws around 300,000 visitors per year to the island.

My Favorite Photos which will also make you fall in Love with Yakushima just like me!

I browsed through my Yakushima island photo folder and selected a few pictures which describe my image of Yakushima best: an eerie fairlytale place with a breathtaking nature! 🐼💚

1. Incomparable Nature which makes me look even more outdoor-sy

Don’t I look handsome?

2. An eerie Atmosphere which makes you feel like you are in a Ghibli movie

It was in the middle of the day, can you believe it? I took a colored photo but it turned out black and white!

3. Majestic Yakushima cedars which are one of the oldest in Japan

They can grow as old as a few thousand years.

4. Mysterious forests which look like they come straight out of a Ghibli Movie

Old Japanese cedar trees, Yakusugi, in Yakushima Island National Park, Kyushu, Kagoshima, Japan

5. Beautiful Handcrafts from old Yakushima Cedar Trees which have a beautiful structure and pattern

6. Delicious Dangerous but beautiful wildlife

7. Not so dangerous but delicious wildlife which you can only find in Yakushima

Yakushima deer in Yakushima Island National Park, Kyushu, Kagoshima, Japan
… which is really hard to see.

8. Delicious Local Food in general

Flying fish sashimi delicacy on Yakushima Island, Kyushu, Kagoshima, Japan
Flying fish sashimi is actually a local delicacy on Yakushima

9. High Humidity which works wonders on your skin

I am sooooo not exaggerating here.

10. Steaming Onsen to relax after an exhausting hike

Onsen next to sea in Yakushima Island National Park, Kyushu, Kagoshima, Japan

11. A Stunning Coastline with sandy beaches

Beach and sea on Yakushima Island, Kyushu, Kagoshima, Japan
You can definitely hang out there when the weather is more inviting, really!

12. And last but not least… awesome Waterfalls

Waterfall in Yakushima Island National Park, Kyushu, Kagoshima, Japan

Mister Wong’s Extra Japanese insider tips!

I hope you liked my small selection of photos. Unlucky as I was, it was raining almost three days straight when I was there. It was literally the worst storm in more than 50 years which forced thousands of people to evacuate.

  • Certainly check out Kagoshima’s official tourism website about Yakushima for more information.
  • Plan well in advance, do your research about Yakushima
  • Definitely decide on whether you want to rent a car or go around by bus – do your research!
  • Do not hestitate to try out local food, cause it’s delicious!

Hungry for more Stories about Japan?

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