Any trip to the Yakushima island would be incomplete without a visit to the beautiful Shiratani Unsuikyo ravine, famed for its ancient cedars and picturesque hiking trails. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenery, and perhaps meet the wild monkeys and deer which inhabit the area. If its natural beauty isn’t enough of a temptation, the ravine also boasts being the inspiration for the Studio Ghibli’s animated film Princess Mononoke by Hayao Miyazaki. It is small wonder that so many choose to visit the lush, moss filled paradise.
Whether you’re a hiking enthusiast or not, the ravine is a destination fit for all, as trails are geared towards every level of hiker. While recommended trails range from 1-5 hours, the vast network of beautiful paths provide visitors ample opportunity to choose their own route and difficulty. The frequent weather changes of the island make for a high probability of rain, and so visitors are recommended to prepare adequate trekking clothing for the wet and possibly cold climate. Visitors can enjoy treks through historic footpaths dating from the Edo period, as well as modern paved paths, and signposts in both Japanese and English script can be found throughout the area. Hikers can expect to enjoy breathtaking views, encounters with beautiful gorges, introductions to the islands famed cedars, and can enjoy sipping on the forests natural spring waters.
Shiratani Unsuikyo is easily accessible, with buses from both the airport and Miyanoura port, as well as parking areas for cars. A small fee is charged for entrance to the park, which visitors can choose to traverse at their own will or attend organized tours of the trails. With unparalleled natural beauty, Shiratani Unsuikyo is a place not to be missed.
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