Almost everyone who comes to the island goes hiking at some point. Not everyone however is properly equipped, so what exactly do you need to go hiking on Yakushima?
- Hiking boots (optional if you only intend to take the easy trails)
- Backpack with a waterproof cover
- Rain gear
- Container for water
- Hiking map of Yakushima and compass
- Flashlight, preferably mountable on your head, and with spare batteries
- Basic food provisions
- Sleeping bag and mat
- Warm additional clothing (even in summer)
- Cooking burner and fuel
- Cooking utensils and food
If you did not bring the right gear, there is still hope as you can rent it!
You can rent everything you may need in the mountains on Yakushima. There are a few places to do this but we have found the easiest for tourists to rent is at the following:
On the main street in the center of Miyanoura, this shop sells and rents all kinds of equipment.
Opposite the port in Miyanoura, it is the main tourist point with a shop, restaurant, mountain gear rentals and bike rentals.
If you stay at this youth hostel in Hirauchi in the South of Yakushima, they have everything you might need.
The next things you may think about is whether you need a guide or not. Lots of Japanese people will swear that you should have one and many people climb the mountains with one, despite the cost.
When I first started hiking the trails of Yakushima there were very few guides who spoke English so it was not really an option for many people who did not speak Japanese. Now, there are more and their numbers are increasing. So do you really need one?
I wrote the first edition of the Yakushima guide book exactly as a guide, literally, for the mountain trails. The idea being that you have the freedom to explore the mountains as you want but you have the knowledge to do so safely and securely. It is now in its third edition.
All the paths are clearly marked with small pink ribbons tied to trees and the really popular routes like Jomon Sugi and Miyanoura have steps and walkways. The route could not be clearer.
The trails are generally safe and well made but can be slippery and treacherous sometimes even on the widely used paths. People unfortunately do die in the mountains and accidents are not that uncommon.
Phones can be used from the high mountains (from the top of Mt.Miyanoura, Mt.Nagata and the surrounding peaks, on the trail to Jomon Sugi and anywhere where you can see Tanegashima island) and hikers frequently come along these trails in the season. As long as you do not take undue risks and watch the weather (the worst is thick cloud or fog), there should be no problem at all.
The benefit a guide brings is local knowledge of the flora and fauna and the trails and some security should there be a problem. The officially registered guides have two-way radios attached to their jackets, so if there is an accident help comes quicker.
All hikers are supposed to fill in a form called 'Tozan todoke' and hand it in at the tourist information, town hall, port, airport, police station etc. This is so that should something nasty happen to you on the mountain, the rescue teams know where to look for you. You can download the form directly from here in the link below.
The best map to buy either before you come or on the island is this one: Yakushima/Miyanoura dake
It's in Japanese but if you don't read Japanese it's still a great map. You just need to familiarize yourself with the main Kanji names using my book or any of the English maps available for free from tourist outlets. It is part of the popular Yamato-kogen series of maps.
If your browser reads it, this is it in Japanese: 山と高原地図 屋久島 宮之浦岳.
For more information about hiking in Yakushima - check out the one and only Yakumonkey Guide to Yakushima
I know it`s a terrible idea, but I`m going to be hiking during Golden Week this year. I can`t wait to go! I`m thinking that we`re going to want to stay one night in the mountains somehow, so we have to rent some gear, probably a tent and sleeping bags. Since it`s golden week, is it necessary/ possible to make a reservation on the rental gear? Do you think it will sell out?
Yes, golden week is super busy and things can get sold out. If you've booked any accommodation, these people will usually help you out in reserving the right gear.Howdy. Just want to check it is possible to buy the Yakushima/Miyanoura dake 1:50 000 map from one of the shops in Miyanoura. Am planning (weather permitting) on hiking out of Onoaida but want to make sure I can pick up a proper topo map. Trail descriptions I've read so far are vague at best so any extra info you can point to would be great. Will pick up the Yakumonkey guide if worth it for this. Really looking forward to making it to the island, just wish we'd check the dates for Golden Week first.
Hello David. Yes, you can buy the map from the bookshops in Miyanoura or Anbo. In the book I go through most of the trails so it might be useful for your trip.Hi Yakumonkey, In august the night in the forest is cold?
It depends how high you are! Look at this link for the temperatures and the height varations below the chart at temperatures-in-yakushima