Hiking on Yakushima

steep trail in Yakushima

Almost everyone who comes to the island goes hiking at some point. If you don't have any walking shoes, or rain wear, or need a sleeping bag and a mat for an overnight stay in one of the mountain huts - don't despair. Just about anything you could want can be rented on Yakushima.

Rental hiking equipment:


Nakagawa Sports
- on the main street in Miyanoura that sells and rents sporting and hiking gear.

Yakushima Kanko center close to the ferry port.

See Equipment rental for details of prices.

The essentials of hiking on Yakushima are:

1. A pair of boots with a firm grip and protection for your ankles.
2. A backpack.
3. Proper waterproof rainwear.

As for other equipment it depends on where and how long you hike. Even for day trips the following equipment is important:
- a map
- a water container
- warm clothes
- compass
- flashlight with spare batteries
- basic food provisions

Do you need a guide?

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.

Apart from the fact that very few speak English, you don't really need one. (Especially with my guide book!! hint! hint!)

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 benefit a guide brings is local knowledge of the flora and fauna and the paths 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.

The paths are generally safe and well made but can be slippery and treacherous sometimes even on the widely used paths. (check my video of the Arakawa trail and look at how narrow the bridges are). People unfortunately do die in the mountains and accidents are not that uncommon...

Oct. 23, 2008: German tourist dies on Yakushima

KAGOSHIMA (Kyodo) A German tourist fell to his death Thursday after slipping off a walking trail into the Segire River on Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture, police said.

The police identified the tourist as Peter Schneider, 65.

Schneider and his wife were strolling along the trail by the river when he slipped and fell more than 10 meters into the river, the police said, adding his wife was unhurt.

He and his wife arrived at Yakushima Island on Wednesday for a sightseeing trip, the police said.

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. As long as you don't take undue risks and watch the weather (the worst is thick cloud or fog), there should in theory be no problem.

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 informatiom about hiking in Yakushima - check out the one and only Yakumonkey Guide to Yakushima

Yakushima Guide book