11/09/201/ (Tue) Kagoshima -> Yakushima
The posts for Yakushima might contain a lot of TIPS & NOTES so I decided to split it in two parts. It can be boring but Yakushima is such a wonderful place and if anyone who’s planning to go there, I want to do anything to help them, so please bear with me! Or just skim through the photos!
We checked out of our hotel around 7:15 AM to catch the 7:45 AM ferry to Yakushima. We got tickets for the high speed ferry “Toppy” and got on. Toppy isn’t cheap, it costs 11,600 yen for a round trip! A regular ferry takes about 4 hours to get to Yakushima, but by Toppy it’s only about 2~3 hours (depending on which route the ship takes).
TIPS & NOTES: Ferry to Yakushima
There are a couple of different ferries you can take to Yakushima from Kagoshima.
Toppy – 5 round trips a day, takes 2~3 hours, 11,600 yen (round trip)
Kousoku-sen Rocket (high speed ferry rocket) – 2 round trips a day, takes 2~3 hours, 11,600 yen (round trip)
Ferry Yakushima 2 – 1 round trip a day, takes 4 hours, 8,000 yen and up (round trip)
Yakushima maru – 1 round trip a day, takes 4 hours, 6,400 yen (round trip)
I know you might lean toward the cheapest option if you’re on budget, but as you can see there aren’t many cheaper options to and from Yakushima. Summer and Spring are the peak season for Yakushima so you might need to book the tickets for the ferry in advance. This can be said for all the ferries to Yakushima, but ferries get canceled and delayed pretty often due to the weather, so watch out if you’re going there during typhoon season.
Also you can get to Yakushima by airplane too! It’s a bit expensive but if you don’t have any plan to travel in Kyushu, airplane is the way to go!
Here are some useful links on how to get Yakushima. (The sites are very useful and available in English!)
Transport to and from Yakushima” on Yakushima: A visitor’s guide site
How to get to Yakushima from Kagoshima
How to travel between Kagoshima and Tokyo on JapanGuide.com
Toppy can go as fast as 80 km/h (about 50 mph). Because of this you have to remain in your seat with your belt fastened, so all the photos were taken while in our seats.
After 2 and a half hours of jetting on the sea, we arrived at Yakushima.
Yakushima is an island located south of Kagoshima in Kyushu, which is about 500 km² with a population of 15,000. The island has been a natural World Heritage Site since 1993. Yakushima is the wettest place in Japans, and it is said to rain “35 days a month”. Okay, I know it doesn’t sound too exciting… but what if I told you the forest in Princess Mononoke was based on the forest in Yakushima?
Actually Hayao Miyazaki has been visiting Yakushima for a very long time, but Princess Mononoke is the movie he officially said that he was inspired by the forest in Yakushima. As matter of a fact, in the “Ghibli studio room” in the Ghibli Museum, they had a huge album with tons of reference photos for the backgrounds and props for their films. One of them was filled with the photos they took in Yakushima.
We got a one-day bus pass at the ferry port, but the bus wouldn’t come for another hour, so we started walking to the main building of the lodge which we were staying at. The lodge was pretty far away from the main building so the main building offers a pick-up/drop-off service to and from the lodge.
TIPS & NOTES: One-Day Bus Pass
One-day bus pass is 2200 yen, and you can purchase it at Miyanoura Port or Anbou Port. (another major port in Yakushima) Like I mentioned, buses are the only public transportation in Yakushima. The cabs there are more like a car service, and they don’t go driving around to pick up customers like they do in a city. Buses can be very useful but one thing to remember is that there aren’t that many buses running, so make sure you know which bus to take to come back to where you’re staying. Most hotels and inns have the bus schedule so ask them for it.
You can also rent a car or a bicycle in Yakushima. For more info about transportation, check “Move around Yakushima” on Yakushima: A visitor’s guide.
After walking for about 15 minutes, we got to the main building.
We were going to the famous outdoor hot spring “Kaichu Onsen” (Undersea hot spring) before checking into the lodge, but it still was a little early so we dropped our stuff off at the hotel and walked around.
When we were walking around, we found a ramen restaurant so we just decided to have lunch there.
Wan-Ron (ramen restaurant), in Miyanoura, Yakushima
I ate: Yakushima ramen with black noodles (1000 yen)
Derek ate: Kakuni ramen with black noodles (1000 yen)
It seemed like they were famous for their black noodles. They put bamboo charcoal in when they make noodles. I’ve had squid ink pasta but never bamboo charcoal noodles so of course we had to get it.
I expected it to taste like… what else, charcoal. But I didn’t taste charcoal at all. Bamboo charcoal helps remove any impurities and odor from the water and other ingredients in noodles but the charcoal itself is completely tasteless. The broth was soy sauce based and also had fish stock in it. It was very light and almost like hot soba or udon broth.
The charshu (pork meat) in the Yakushima ramen was also very unique. They made a meatball with flying fish (which Yakushima iss known for) mixed it with some veggies, wrapped it with thin layers of pork, and sliced it.
It was not only visually beautiful but it was delicious! They also have gyoza with flying fish meat inside which is supposed to be amazing but we didn’t get to eat it.
After we ate, we took a bus to the famous Kaichu-Onsen (Underwater hot spring)…
TIPS & NOTES: Cell phones in Yakushima
If you’re renting a phone and want to use it in Yakushima, make sure it’s a “Docomo” phone or “au” phone. Any other phone will not get any reception there. Our rental phone was a “softbank” phone, which was fine anywhere in Japan EXCEPT Yakushima. I knew about this before going and really didn’t think much of it. It ending up being inconvenient from time to time during our 2 night and 3 day stay. One time I had to ask a stranger to use his phone and another I used the phone at the lodge. I’m not saying that must have a cellphone in Yakushima, but if you want to use a cellphone it has be by Docomo or au.
We have over 4000 photos from this trip and there’s no way I can post them all on my blog. So I’m uploading photos from our trip to flickr as I write a post for each day. If you’d like to check out random photos from Japan or us goofing around in Japan, check out my flickr collection by clicking the link below!
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