A journey to ancient forests, onsens, and volcanoes of Yakushima and Kagoshima

Kyushu, Japan

Changi Airport Terminal 1

This adventure is: #adrenaline pumping, #on the weekend, #scenic

Kyushu: A journey to ancient forests, onsens, and volcano...

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“Hi, it's u­­­s, Georg­i­n­a, Bri­tt­a, and ­Lee­ Lin­g­”

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Highlights

Are you intrigued by forests seen in the Lord of the Rings or are you a fan of Studio Ghibli?  Maybe you too wonder how it feels to be covered up in black sand, hike up active volcanoes, and enjoy hot bath in a open air sea facing onsen.  If you have been wondering and always wanted to see and experience for yourself that I have mentioned, please join me in this fascinating trip to Kagoshima and Yakushima.

Highlights
- Hike in Yakushima and that feels like "Lord of the Rings", a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve, also designated as natural World Heritage Site.
- Hike to Jomon Sugi, the oldest and largest coniferous tree in Yakushima
- Hike to Lake Onami, the highest crater lake in Japan
- Experience the open-air hot spring and black sand bath facing the East China Sea in Tamatebako
- Get an up close experience with the most active volcano in Japan, Sakurajima

We will start our journey to Yakushima,an island with rocky coastline and the spectacular mountains rising sharply in the center of the island. Wildflowers and blossoms decorate the roads and forest. The breathtaking pink sunrises and blood red sunsets over the Pacific. White clouds blue sky during the day. At times mists and rain clouds that shroud the tops of the mountains. When the moon set, stars fills the black night sky.  Yakushima a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve, also designated as natural World Heritage Site.  The wetland at Nagata-hama is designated as a Ramsar Site too.

We will hike and stay overnight in the forest and explore the island after the hike.
A journey to ancient forests, onsens, and volcanoes of Yakushima and Kagoshima starting at Kyushu, JapanAlong the Kusugawa trail. This is the forest that inspired Ghibli studio's Princess Mononoke.Photo by Casey Yee licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A journey to ancient forests, onsens, and volcanoes of Yakushima and Kagoshima starting at Kyushu, JapanMossy Forest like those seen in Lord of the Rings movie, photo by Takeshi Kuboki licensed under CC BY 2.0

A journey to ancient forests, onsens, and volcanoes of Yakushima and Kagoshima starting at Kyushu, Japan
Cedar trees roots that arches and a human can walk underneath in Yakushima forest, photo by Peter Enyeart licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The commonly seen oddly shaped cedar trees that grow in Yakushima.  The oldest and largest cedar tree is estimated to be between 2,170 and 7,200 years old at a height of 25.3 m and a trunk circumference of 16.4 m.

A journey to ancient forests, onsens, and volcanoes of Yakushima and Kagoshima starting at Kyushu, JapanOne of the amazing beaches in Yakushima, Nagata-Hama beach, photo by Casey Yee licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

When we are back in Kagoshima after spending 3 days in Yakushima, we will head to outdoor hot spring and sand bath in Tamatebako.  This video gives us an idea of rare and unique experience.  After that we will take a boat to Sakurajima and feel how is it like to be close to an active volcano.




A journey to ancient forests, onsens, and volcanoes of Yakushima and Kagoshima starting at Kyushu, JapanAn outdoor hot spring bath in Tamatebako facing the East China Sea.

A journey to ancient forests, onsens, and volcanoes of Yakushima and Kagoshima starting at Kyushu, JapanSakurajima, the most active volcano in Japan, photo by Yuko licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sakurajima volcano smokes constantly, and minor eruptions often take place multiple times per day.   The Minami-dake peak is currently the most active, with many eruptions taking place from the Showa Crater on the peak's eastern slope and eruptions we can observe from about three kilometers away.  The next day we will head to Lake Onami for a 6 hours easy hike.

A journey to ancient forests, onsens, and volcanoes of Yakushima and Kagoshima starting at Kyushu, JapanView of crater's lake, Lake Onami, the largest of its kind in Japan, photo by Japan Info

It takes about 6.5 hours to complete the hike to Lake Onami in Mt. Karakuni at 1,239 metres. 

Our journey will end in Hakata, for those wanting to extend, I think Kumamoto, Hakata, and Nagasaki cities are good options to explore.  There are also many more onsens, gorges, and islands worth exploring and I will leave it to the next trip.