Nearing the end of our Japanese travels, Sue and I head off the beaten trail a bit to see Yakushima. Previously we visited Kagoshima. That post is here: More of Kyushu, Japan. Kumamoto and Kagoshima
We needn’t have left before 7 am as we did as there was no line up for tickets for the 8:30 am ferry. We were there at 7:30 am ready anyway. Then we almost missed the boat as there are no English announcements. We just suddenly noticed there was nobody else in the waiting room! After that, any time they announced something on board the ship, we looked around to see what others were doing. The 4 hour ride was very pleasant and the noodle shop provided a nice breakfast.
At Miyanoura port, the lady from Navi was waiting with a sign with my name on it with our rental car. (I had booked this through YES Yaksushima – VERY helpful). She went over maps, recommendations, directions and finally…the car. As we drove away the wipers came on when Sue tried to signal. We could not get them off. At a stop sign, suddenly the Navi lady pops up and reaches in my window….”wipers, like this”. Then she ran away! So funny!
Yakushima doesn’t have many roads but all are narrow and windy. We found Daichon house easily and checked in. That process took a looonng time as the nice man told us a lot of stories, including horror stories of people who went on hikes and never came back, lost cars, buses that fell off roads….yeah, lots of fun; Especially as the stories were told through google translate on his phone.
We finally set off to explore and found Senpiro-no-taki waterfall and then just drove for a while exploring. By the time we headed back it was dark. Then trying to find a restaurant in Anbo was fruitless as parking is impossible and the couple I found were closed. We finally just ate at Mosburger.
Driving on the left side is very stressful when you’ve never done it and it wore Sue out.
Tuesday’s challenge was finding breakfast. Nothing opens until 10 am. Finally we hit a grocery store and just stocked up on snacks and fruit. Good enough.
We headed up the mountain to Yakusugi Land. The road winds like crazy and goes down to one lane as you climb. There are mirrors posted on corners and the odd place you can pull over if you meet another car. Thankfully we didn’t meet many, including the two buses that make that trek a couple times a day!
Once there we paid our fee and decided on the 50 minute trek, only because the longer trails were not in good condition. The trail is gorgeous so we strolled along and enjoyed it immensely.
Back in the car we went up further to see the oldest tree on the island. It’s a big old tree. Yep
The drive down wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be so we decided to drive around the island. That too was a gorgeous drive. We especially enjoyed the Seibu forest path through the national forest. That road is closed at night as there are so many deer and monkeys. There sure were!!
After a quick stop to check out the Huuki hot spring (which we really didn’t understand) we didn’t manage to make it back to Daichon house before dark. It also started raining. So I asked our host if he would drive us somewhere for dinner. Google translate is great but doesn’t always get it right as he replied that he had “more important guests”. I’m assuming that’s not exactly what he intended to say 😉 Either way, the kind man drove the car for us and walked back to the house himself!
Dinner at his choice Haruto was tonkatsu made for us by a nice couple and was delicious!
After a late start we drove up the mountain again to visit Shiratani Ravine. The drive up is breath taking with sheer drop offs on the left (a little scary with no guard rails!) and gorgeous views. There were even a few monkeys.
The park is beautiful with huge boulders, a raging river with lots of rapids and waterfalls, moss cover trees and rocks and massive trees. We took our time and enjoyed the hike before heading back down the mountain.
Then we decided to drive around the island again and see what we missed the first time. We stopped at different places including the Nagata beach. There we found a cute little onsen in what looked like a dive shop.
The national forest was again a treat. It’s beauty is different from the other two areas. There’s not as much moss but there are huge ferns, trees growing out of huge boulders and of course, monkeys and deer.
Next we stopped at Yudomari onsen. That’s just a place where hot water springs out of the ground and they’ve created nice pools for people to sit in. It wasn’t terribly hot but it’s right at the edge of the ocean and a really nice experience. We met a nice young couple from Israel whom we chatted with for a bit, then changed and headed back to Daichon house.
We left the car and walked the 40 minutes to Anbo. Of course the restaurant we were looking for was closed so we happened upon Series. The girl seated us next to a couple of young Japanese men who were just receiving their food. It looked interesting. The friendly fellows explained what they had and we ordered much of the same. Flying fish is a dish commonly eaten on Yagoshima so why not? The salad was topped with sesame dressing and lots of assorted sashimi. The dumplings were stuffed with flying fish and the tempura shitake mushrooms were a nice finish. YUM! We chatted a bit with the young men, (who noted that I was using my chopsticks properly!) thanked them for their recommendations and walked home again.
Thursday, November 28
Upon returning the rental car the lady jumped in the car and brought us to the airport. It was a foggy, rainy, miserable day. A kind woman interpreted the announcements for us when it was apparent the plane may be delayed. If the incoming flight could see the mountain we could leave. If not, he would turn around and go back to Kagoshima. Love the matter of fact, clear communication! Chatting with the others in a tiny airport is fun as you know everyone’s getting on the same plane. We all had connections so prayed it would clear enough to go. Meanwhile we enjoyed conversation with an interesting Japanese couple who had been living and raised their kids in the US. So embroiled in our conversation an airline person actually approached us and told us we had to check in now. Everyone else had already done so. Oops.
The plane took off just a few minutes late so the connecting flight in Kagoshima wasn’t a problem. Sakurijma volcano was behaving herself so we even took off for Tokyo on time.