Travel, Teach, Live in Japan
Yakushima is an island located off the south-east coast of Japan. It is officially recognized by UNESCO and is on the World Heritage List since 1993. Yakushima is an extraordinary travel destination, referred to even as a magic island, as more than seventy-five percent of the place is covered with dense forests and mountains. Mountain tops are covered with snow throughout the winters and climate is sub-tropical in the coastal regions. These mountains receive heavy rainfall, making Yakushima's climate soggier than other parts of Japan. The word Yakushima means Medicine Island and herbologists around the world have been cultivating local herbs for various cures for a long time.
With one main road circling the island, beautiful mountains, trails, and waterfalls along the way attract a lot of hikers and nature lovers. Fruit gardens and museums are some of the main tourist attractions that make Yakushima an enchanting place. The fruit garden is at the south-west coast of the island, offering a relaxing stroll between the tropical trees and fruit plants. The museums and visitor centers in Yakushima exhibit the natural wonders of the island. They also provide a knowledge ride of the history of Yakushima Island.
This mountainous region offers a plethora of beautiful scenery. There are two waterfalls, "Okonotaki" and "Senpironotaki," just off the main road. Spread out over the island are also beaches, the most famous among them being "Nagata-inaka-hama." If you happen to visit the island between the months of May-August you could encounter giant sea turtles. They come to shore to lay eggs late at night (or early in the morning, depends how you look at it), between 1 am to 2 am.
Some buses run between major destinations inside the island, but renting a car in Yakushima is practically a must. It's a long way from Tokyo and requires a ferry or flight in from Kagoshima, but well worth the trouble for those of you who are hungry for some adventure.
Josh Shulman, Author of All-You-Can Japan [ www.smartjapantravel.wordpress.com]