This path begins at the coast and is signposted in English from the main road at the village of Kusugawa.
It takes 1-2 hours to hike up to Shiratani Unsuikyo and the trail is easy to follow as it was part of an Edo Period logging path.
Everytime I've been on along here, it has been virtually empty of people - only monkeys and deer.
Shiratani can be reached via the Kusugawa path above or more commonly on the newly widened mountain road from Miyanoura.
There is an entrance fee of ¥300 to get into the trail but you also get a leaflet in English.
Shiratani Unsuikyo Leaflet (English)
The path follows the river for the first section of steps and walkways. The highlight here is 'Sasuga Otoshi' waterfall:
And the 3,000 year old Yayoi sugi:
Eventually there will be a choice as to whether you go straight on into the forest path or across a suspension bridge to the left. They both end up at the same place - across the bridge is the continuation of the Kusugawa path and is relatively flat and easy to traverse.
Straight on, the path meanders through rivers, over ridges, past old cedars, through marshes - it's not particularly difficult to hike through and the forest here is where you will get the kind of photos that you see in magazines and postcards about Yakushima. In the late afternoon particularly monkeys will be about and there are always deer.
Both the paths eventually meet at the foot of the path that heads up to the Shiratani hut, where you'll find a toilet and water to drink.
MONONOKE HIME FOREST
From here it is a short hike up to a sign saying 'Mononoke Hime forest' in Japanese. This is based on the animated movie - check out the section entitled 'the forest' in my posts. Behind is supposed to be the type of forest featured in the movie but it's a new creation for tired tourists who need a goal to walk to rather than a particularly beautiful piece of forest. If you took the 150 minute course to get there you would have seen far more beautiful sights.
The path then becomes steep for a while until you reach a forest opening with signs up to Taikoiwa rock. This is Tsuji pass.
From here it's only a matter of minutes but be warned it gets very steep. At the rock you are rewarded by sweeping views of all the interior mountains.
The trail then heads down towards the river should you wish to continue and eventually meets up with the railway path from Arakawa and is an alternative route to Jomon Sugi and Miyanoura dake.
For more information about the Kusugawa trail and Shiratani Unsuikyo - check out the one and only Yakumonkey Guide to Yakushima