The Arakawa trail is the most used mountain trail on Yakushima as it leads to the most famous of Sugi trees - Jomon Sugi.

The first thing you need to think about if you are taking this trail is how to get there. You may not be aware but access to the trail entrance is restricted, so you need to follow the instructions featured here: Arakawa trail access regulations

Once you actually arrive at the trail entrance, you will soon figure out that the trail is essentially a railway track. Indeed it starts at the old railway terminal and follows the train tracks past the following places...

An abandoned wagon at the beginning of the trail
A bridge for the stream
Water flows over the tracks and drops down the other side

... and onto KOSUGIDANI, an abandoned logging village beside the river. If you visit Yakusugi museum, you will see lots of information about this logging community and how people used to live in the mountains.

The bridge at Kosugidana, Yakushima
The bridge at Kosugidana

The remnants of Kosugidani settlement, Yakushima
The remnants of Kosugidani settlement

The remnants of Kosugidani settlement, Yakushima
The remnants of Kosugidani settlement

The trail onwards from Kosugidani, Yakushima
The trail onwards from Kosugidani

 Here is a short guide to the Arakawa trail up to here made by myself and a little guy named George.

Those tracks just keep going on... 

Arakawa Trail, Yakushima

And on...
Arakawa Trail, Yakushima

And on...

Arakawa Trail, Yakushima

Until you finally reach the end of the line. Which turns out to be toilets! 

The toilet block at the head of the Okabu trail, Yakushima
The toilet block at the head of the Okabu trail
 From here it is onwards and upwards...

The start of the Okabu trail
The start of the Okabu trail

Once you leave the train tracks behind you and just as exhaustion is creeping up on you. You will arrive at WILSON'S STUMP - an extremely large tree stump which once must have been an even more impressive tree.

Wilson's Stump
Wilson's stump

It then goes onwards and more steps...

The Okabu trail in winter
The long slog on from there takes you past many notable trees and through thick forest until you reach the holy grail of trees - JOMON SUGI - the oldest of them all.

Jomon Sugi

You can call it a day from there and meander on to TAKATSUKA HUT or if you still have some energy to SHIN-TAKATSUKA HUT. Or you can turn around and do it all in reverse!

Takasuka hut


I have hiked this route many, many times. It is a bit tough but Jomon Sugi and back again is indeed a day trip. Most tourists start at an obscenely early time in the morning but that is only because they have to get back and bathed before dinner time in their hotel. I once did the return trip in 6 hours by myself but then again 12 hours with my family. The average is around 9 hours.

The path is incredibly monotonous in places - especially the railway track and in comparison with some of the other trees on the island which are less visited and more accessible (yet equally impressive), it's a bit of a let down.

There are no sweeping views on the path so if it is cloudy and raining, despite the soggy waterproofs, it is still okay to hike. In fact, sometimes the forest is more beautiful in the rain. And unless you are particularly interested in the local flora and fauna, you do not need a guide as the trail is unmistakable all the way.

For more information about hiking along the Arakawa trail - check out the one and only Yakumonkey Guide to Yakushima

Yakushima Guide book