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. This forest is a nature photographers paradise. The best time to visit is either during a light rainfall or just after a rainfall when the mosses are at their best.
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 usually goes through the ‘genseirin’ as this route produces some of the best scenery. 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 we re-join the main route through Shiratani Unsuikyo then we 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. This route is usually offered as an alternative to the genseirin route as attempting both routes is only possible if you partially run the course and rarely stop (which we firmly believe defeats the purpose of visiting this forest). It takes a further hour to reach the top of Taiko Iwa and on a clear day it has to be the highlight of this particular course. There are great views over to the central mountains with Miyanouradake (1936 meters) in the background. There are also good views of the Arakawa Valley and Tachudake over in the distance. Before setting off in the morning then the guide will explain the benefits of each course based upon the weather and your interests.
Returning back down we keep to the Kusugawa Trail (an old logging trail), passing a few more large cryptomeria trees including Nanahon sugi.
Level 2/5 | Distance: 8km | Time 6 – 7 hours | Altitude 600 ～ 1050m
Guide Rate (per person)
1 person: 38,000円
2 people: 20,000円
3 people: 16,500円
4 or more: 14,000円
Included in the guide rate： lunch bento | transportation
Excluded from the guide rate : 500 yen per adult National Park entry