Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/6/17 02:01

I booked a flight for early November, for a short 12 nights trip. Since the reopening is uncertain, I did not want to spend too much time planning. I thought of simply splitting these 2 weeks between Tokyo + Yakushima + maybe another city.

Planning would look like this:
Tokyo: 1 night
Yakushima: 5 nights
Kagoshima/Miyazaki prefecture/Aso/Nagoya (Ghibli Park)/?: 4 nights
Tokyo: 2 nights

Unfortunately, flights from France to Osaka (which has direct flights to Yakushima) are currently much more expensive than landing in Haneda. And Haneda airport is more convenient than Osaka KIX :)

The weather seems to be pleasant enough in Yakushima in November. We won't have a car (not enough time to translate our driver's license) and our main goal is to go hiking. Is 5 days enough? We are not planning to visit Yakushima again anytime soon. Our previous trip was Takayama/Kanazawa/Kamikochi/Matsumoto, and our next trip will be Shikoku.
by ML (guest)  

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/6/17 06:03
% days would be plenty for Yakashima.

The Nagoya bit probably needs to be omitted. That would be way to much time wasting transportation wise just for one sight to visit.

Since you are planning on visiting the southern Kyushu region, have you thought about flights Tokyo to and from Kagoshima? Might save the hassle of Osaka vs Tokyo?
by h (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/6/17 15:40
Hi, thanks for your answer. Sorry, I wasn't clear.

After Yakushima I am only planning to visit one location (or max two), so either the Miyazaki area or Nagoya. But you seem to think Mount Aso + the Miyazaki would be doable in 4 days?

And yes, from Tokyo I will take a flight to Kagoshima then Yakushima. I remember that I checked that route in 2019, and back then there were direct flights from Tokyo to Yakushima. Maybe they will be resumed, and I won't need to take a connecting flight :)
by ML (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/6/17 16:49
I'm not sure about your budget - but pre-covid ANA and JAL used to have flight specials for foreigners who come from overseas. I tend to remember the flights costing 7K and 10K Yen one way. These flights were often much cheaper than what could be completed by locals.

I really enjoyed Yakushima - but found having a car was extremely helpful. To the best of my knowledge - all you need is

(A) Insurance
(B) UK Licence
(C) International Drivers Licence (often given by RAC and it looks like something from the 1970's.

You also mentioned that you want to do something on Kyushu and/or Honshu for 4 days. Before I make a suggestion - what type of stuff do you like to do. I honestly see the Kyushu part as more fruitful but it really depends on what you like to do.

I also see 5 days on Yakushima as a long time. 3 full days was enough for me (with time to burn) - but I also had a car and am a quick traveler.

by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/6/17 19:21
Thank you for the travel reports! The forest looks very nice even in winter, I was worried that the trees would be all bare. We are also quick travelers, but without a car and if we are unlucky with the weather, we might need more time. After reading your posts, though, I think we will skip the beaches and fruit garden, and remove one night from Yakushima.

Regarding the driver's license, unfortunately, the "international" French permit is not recognized in Japan. We need to get it translated at a JAF office, which might take several days. And because of COVID, they will only send the translation by mail.

We are interested in historical cities, mountains/forests, and above all, food. One night in an onsen ryokan is also an absolute must - it's the thing I have missed the most from my previous trips. We are not picky about the water type/quality, a nice room and a rotenburo shaded by trees and we'll be happy. We are planning to come back and visit Kyushu in a future trip, so going to Beppu or Mount Aso is not 100% necessary if there are more convenient options. I was thinking of Miyazaki city/prefecture because it's easily accessible from Kagoshima.

Budget wise: I try to save money when I can, but flexibility is my first priority at the moment. The last minute price for Haneda-Yakushima one way ticket is around €300 (urgh), about the same price as a refundable ticket, so no point in booking now. I will keep an eye on the ANA discount tickets. I was able to get them on a previous trip (Tokyo -> Sapporo), but didn't remember it was only for foreigners. We might also take a low cost company from Haneda to Kagoshima, then the jetfoil or another flight.
by ML (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/6/18 08:28
One thing worth considering is speaking to someone who HAS travelled around Yakushima by bus. This might significantly increase the amount of time needed to get around the island.

For Kyushu - I honestly see a couple of loops which would be good.

First LOOP - Fukuoka

Fukuoka - Yoshinogiri Park - Takeo Onsen OR Ursehino Onsen + Nagasaki. There is also a nice half day trip to Yutoku Inari Shrine as well. This is a good mix of history, nature and onsen towns. Note that I REALLY like Nagasaki!


Loop 2: Kumamoto Loop

Kumamoto - Kurokawa - Usuki - Takachihi. This will also involve some bus travel. Note that Aso is one of my favourite places to DRIVE in Japan - but I'm not sure about doing it by public transport.


Loop 3: Kagoshima Loop: Kagoshima, Sakurajima, Satsuma Peninsula

Basically posts from early Jan 2020: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/6/20 02:00
Thanks for all these links, your travel style is definitely different from mine. Without a car, I tend to spend much more time walking in cities. I had planned to rent a car to visit the Iya Valley + Shimanto area in Shikoku, but was not sure if I would actually manage to drive in Japan. It's on the "wrong" side of the road compared to France.

Driving in Yakushima seems to be very easy. I had not considered it before because they have buses, but it could be a good test for me to try it there. In Iya, there won't be any other alternative, and the roads seem worse. My main fears are: not being able to drive left handed, and having angry people honking at me for driving too slowly in narrow roads. I know that speed limits are lower in Japan, but not sure if locals actually respect them?

I could switch my planning like this:

Tokyo: 1 night (request a translation of our driver's licenses and having them delivered in Yakushima)
Kagoshima+Sakurajima: 3 nights
Yakushima: 4 nights (being prepared to take buses if the translations don't arrive in time)
Satsuma peninsula or Kumamoto: 2 nights
Tokyo: 2 nights

There are also proxy services for translating the driver's license, but it is twice as expensive.

I will keep Nagasaki in mind for my future trip to Kyushu :)
by ML (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/6/20 07:13
Regarding driving on the „wrong „ side. In my experience with a locally rented car it isnft complicated. Yes, I do get confused with the lights and window swipe initially but thatfs not a big problem. But I donft get confused by where to drive, because you just need to remember that the driver needs to be in the center of the road. Which feels quite natural.

Regarding speed limits, you will not get honked at if you respect them. Local drivers generally respect them with the exception of highways where a bit over the speed limit seems to be normal.

Also roads to Iya valley arenft that busy. Just if you want to look around while driving and go extra slow, be mindful of other drivers and try to stop more instead of driving too slow.

For the translation I know that for the German driving license you also can get a translation in Germany. So maybe thatfs a solution.

I havenft been to Yakushima to judge how necessary a car is. But if you plan your days around a bus schedule and your accommodation as well, it should be doable. And maybe after a long day hiking itfs actually nice to have a driver instead of driving yourself.
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/6/20 07:26
This is an odd comment to make - but apart from Yakushima the locations you have chosen don't really need a car.

I've used public transport significantly in Japan - but tend to also break up days in the city with days in the countryside with a car.

The timing of buses since covid is the main worry for me in relation to Yakushima. Speaking to someone who has been there since then will make a significant difference.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/6/20 07:59
Okinawa main island (Naha only) is my only exception without a rental car, maybe once or twice. I always book a rental car for island travel. I might join group tour in some cases if I think it can save and budget.
by KyushuLocal rate this post as useful

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/6/20 17:47
If, by miracle, this trip happens, I will have a car only in Yakushima and will check the latest bus timetables.
Yakushima is currently in "very high" alert for COVID infections. If it is still the case in November or if it gets worse, I will avoid going there. It would be disrespectful to go sightseeing while the residents are asked to stay at home.

As for the Iya valley, I wanted to spend a night there: https://www.tougenkyo-iya.jp/
In fact, I had booked my stay for April 2020 and (obviously) had to cancel it :/
by ML (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/6/20 19:11
The Iya Valley is the only place that I wanted to visit in Shikoku which I missed. Let's say I did not want to drive in snow and that hotel is a place I was in conversation with but it can get rare but large dumps of snow there. I doubt that would happen in November.

Also when it comes to driving on Yakushima - the West Coast is VERY NARROW and some of my scariest driving memories involves me moving out of the way of large buses along a very windy road.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/7/20 15:34
I visited Yakushima just over two months ago. We went via the overnight car ferry, bringing our rental car with us. Yakushima is bigger than one would think, since you have to circumvent the island in order to get to the other side. Using the bus system, you'd be limited only to major tourist spots. We researched buses before going and the timetables weren't too limiting for visiting Shiratani or Yakusugi World. If it would be your first time driving in Japan, I might recommend taking the public transportation route. The roads in Yakushima are more precarious and dangerous than other parts of Japan and at night it gets extremely dark. As an experienced driver in Japan, I was nervous. Also, we saw a gnarly accident while we were there. The roads are single lane which might be less stressful, but this also means you will have to merge into reverse traffic in order to avoid obstructions in the road, which you will inevitably encounter. It might be safer to leave the liability to a professional driver.
by Jinbeizame rate this post as useful

Re: Yakushima in November for 5 days? 2022/7/20 21:22
The roads in Yakushima are a strange beast.

On the east coast where there are people, traffic is relatively light and in general it's quite fun to drive.

The west coast is probably one of the most amazing drives I've had in Japan, but it was also one of the most precarious. The road is windy with monkeys and deer continually moving. The road in some locations is almost not one lane and then a huge bus comes in the opposite direction next to a blind corner.

I also agree that some of the roads do need mountain driving experience as well
by mfedley rate this post as useful

reply to this thread