If you pick up a book about Yakushima and it’s filled with moss-green forests, then the chances are you are looking at Shiratani Unsuikyo.
Shiratani Unsuikyo is relatively easy to access and therefore it is popular. On a short hike you will be lucky to have the forest to yourself, but on a longer hike through the ‘genseirin’ forest then tranquility is possible.
The full day Shiratani Unsuikyo hike does go through the ‘genseirin’ and this route produces some of the best scenery on this hike. There are also some big trees along this route including Nidai Osugi, Bugyo sugi and the photogenic Sanbonashi sugi (3 legged sugi) The genseirin route also has probably the best moss area within the Shiratani Unsuikyo forest.
Once you re-join the main route through Shiratani Unsuikyo (the old Kusugawa Trail) then you soon come to the ‘Moss Forest’ which used to be known as the ‘Mononoke Hime Forest’ until a dispute with the Ghibli Studios forced a name-change. You will often find walkers congregating here for the obligatory photo. Admittedly, it is a wonderful setting. Beyond the Moss Forest is the climb towards Taiko Iwa. It takes around 45 minutes to reach the top of Taiko Iwa and on a clear day it has to be one of the highlights of the day as the views over to the central mountains are great. Miyanouradake stands before you and there are also good views of the Arakawa Valley and Tachu Dake over in the distance.
Returning back down you keep to the Kusugawa Trail (an old logging trail), passing a few more large cryptomeria trees including Nanahon sugi.
Heavy rain can force the Shiratani Unsuikyo forest to be closed due to some dangerous river crossings. In this event we would likely move the tour to the Yakusugi Land area as the river crossings there are much safer.
Level 2/5 | Distance: 8km | Time 6 – 7 hours | Altitude 600 ～1050m
Guide Rate (per person)
1 person: 30,000円 | 2 people: 16,000円 | 3 people: 14,000円 | 4 or more: 12,500円
Included in the guide rate： lunch bento | transportation
Excluded from the guide rate : 500 yen per adult National Park entry