You don't see much about the Kusugawa trail in tourist information. This is because it starts at the coast and snakes up to Shiratani Unsuikyo. You can get to Shiratani Unsuikyo by car or bus, so why hike up there?

Well every time I've been along here, it has been virtually empty of people - only monkeys and deer. It's a great trail especially when the mountains are full of tourists and it is full of the history of logging with the crumbling remains of wood kilns.  

The trail begins at the coast and is signposted in English from the main road at the village of Kusugawa. It's a long way along this road so some form of transport would be better.

Kusugawa Trail, Yakushima
Views to the coast from Kusugawa Trail, Yakushima
If you want to go straight up from here, it takes 1-2 hours to hike up to Shiratani Unsuikyo and the trail is easy to follow as it was part of the main Edo Period logging path.

Yakushima macaques
Yakushima macaques on the Kusugawa trail, Yakushima

When you reach the top of the lower trail, you are at Shiratani Unsuikyo. You could have driven up by car or bus but it's just not the same!  

Shiratani can be reached via the Kusugawa trail above or more commonly by car or bus on the newly widened mountain road from Miyanoura.

It has always been one of my favourite trail areas on Yakushima because of its ease of access and the quality of the trails that start from there. If you only hike in one area on Yakushima, I recommend coming here and taking the 150 min course.

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:

Sasuga Otoshi waterfall
Sasuga Otoshi waterfall

And the 3,000 year old Yayoi sugi:

Yayoi sugi
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 trail 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.

Shiratani trail, Yakushima
Shiratani trail, Yakushima

Both the trails eventually meet at the foot of the trail that heads up to the Shiratani hut, where you'll find a toilet and water to drink.

Shiratani hut
Shiratani hut

From here it is a short hike up to what was once called '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.

Tsuji pass
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.

Taikoiwa Rock, Yakushima
The views inland from Taikoiwa Rock

Taikoiwa Rock, Yakushima
Miyanoura dake is the highest peak in the distance


The trail then heads down towards the river should you wish to continue and eventually meets up with the railway trail 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

Yakushima Guide book