How to Get to Yakushima
There are three Yakushima Ferry services which all leave different ports in Kagoshima. The Tane Yaku (Rocket or Toppy) Jetfoil is the fastest at around 2 hours, but also the most expensive.
There is a daily car ferry which takes around 4 hours and then the overnight Hibiscus freighter ship which is the cheapest but takes the longest. See below for information about each of these options and an account of my crossing on the Hibiscus freighter.
Option 1 – Tane Yaku Jetfoil
The fastest Yakushima ferry is the Tane Yaku Hydrofoil (also known as the Toppy or Rocket) which takes from just 2 hours. There are daily sailings from 07:45 to 15:00. See timetable below. There are two services; one from Kagoshima to Anbo and the other from Kagoshima to Miyanoura.
Ticket Price: One way ¥9,000 and ¥16,200 for a return (valid for 7 days)
How to buy tickets
You can search for fares using Direct Ferries below and buy online or buy direct at Kagoshima Port. During peak seasons it’s best to book in advance!
How to get to Kagoshima Port:
Kagoshima port is very close to the centre of the city and next to the Dolphin Port shopping area.
Yakushima Ferry Timetable
Current Timetable for the Jetfoil Yakushima Ferry (Nov 2019 to Mar 2020)
Option 2 – Yaku 2 Yakushima Car Ferry
If you would like to bring your hire car to Yakushima (useful as the bus service does not have a lot of coverage in the island), then you can take either the Yakushima car ferry or Hibiscus Freighter ship (see below).
The Yaku 2 Car Ferry leaves Kagoshima New Port at 08:30 every morning and arrives at Miyanoura 4 hours later at 12:30. It returns to Kagoshima at 13:30 and arrives at 17:40.
Ticket Price: Single trip costs ¥5,000 and a return is ¥9,500.
How to Buy Tickets:
Unless you speak Japanese, you need to buy the ticket at Kagoshima New Port. If you can read Japanese you can buy a ticket from the LOPPI ticket machines in Lawson’s Convenience Stores.
How to get to Kagoshima New Port
Kagoshima New Port is very easy to get to as it is located close to the central area of the city. This Yakushima Ferry departs from Minami-Futu Wharf Travellers Terminal.
Option 3 – Hibiscus Cargo Ship
The cheapest, and most exciting way to get to Yakushima is by the Hibiscus freighter ship. The Hibiscus leaves Kagoshima at 18:00 every day and arrives at Miyanoura Port at 08:00 the next morning. The ship docks at Tanegeshima Port overnight but you cannot leave the vessel.
Facilities on board are basic with no beds, just a raised platform and blankets and the cabins are open-plan. There are 2 or 3 vending machines with drinks, snacks and instant noodles, but bring supplies for the night to ensure you have enough food and water for the crossing.
Getting to the port in Kagoshima for the Hibiscus Cargo Ferry
The Hibiscus departs from a Tanimaya port located 10km south of Kagoshima.
Ticket Price: One way is ¥3,800 and a return is ¥7,600.
How to buy Tickets:
You can only buy a ticket at Tanimaya Port. It’s possible to buy on the day of departure, but phone ahead first to ensure there is space and ideally purchase a few days in advance.
To Reserve contact: 099 261 7000 or 0997 22 1255.
See the Hibiscus website for more info.
Yakushima Weather & Ferry Cancellations
The Yakushima ferries may be cancelled at short or no notice in case of adverse weather conditions such as Typhoon. The rainy (monsoon) season starts at the beginning of June and lasts until approximately mid-July. It’s still possible to travel by ferry during monsoon season (and Yakushima comes alive with the rains), but just pay attention to local forecasts and news.
This website will tell you if a ferry is cancelled. A circle denotes the service will depart in time, a triangle means possible delay/cancellation and 欠 means it will be cancelled. The website is in Japanese and the English translation refers to flights, but these are in fact the ferries.
What is the Journey Like on the Hibiscus Yakushima Ferry?
I took the Hibiscus in February 2018 and below is a brief summary of the journey. You can see this short vlog on YouTube.
The first thing we did was call the port (099 261 7000) and ensure there were still tickets. It was quite late in the day (around 3pm) and the ship was due to depart at 18:00. Upon confirmation and reservation of tickets, we tried to find a bus to Tanimaya Port but struggled to find it and opted for a taxi.
The taxi journey from our hotel in central Kagoshima was around 40 minutes as traffic was quite heavy. We arrived at the port with an hour to spare. We paid the money for the tickets (¥7,600 return) and were advised to go and get supplies and be back at the port 30 minutes before departure. There is a mini-supermarket at the intersection of the highway and the road to the port.
Boarding the Yakushima Hibiscus Ferry
We returned with water, fruit and sandwiches for the overnight journey and boarded the Hibiscus at 17:30. There were about 15 other passengers and everyone found a space on the carpeted raised flooring that would serve as beds for the night. Blankets and pillows were supplied.
I had a wander around the boat which is not large compared to some cargo ships I’ve travelled on like on the Baggtyar crossing the Caspian Sea. The facilities were very basic but the toilets were clean and there were vending machines selling drinks and cup noodles.
We set sail on time and headed up on deck to see Sakurajima Volcanoe shrink into the distance with its puff of black/grey smoke drifting over the horizon. Once we left the gulf of Kagoshima and hit open water the vessel started to sway with the larger waves, which was quite exhilarating!
As night fell the sky was awash with more stars than I have ever seen in my life. It was truly a spectacle to behold, but unfortunately the rocking of the boat prevented any attempt at night-time photography of the sky.
The boat arrived at the port of Nishinoomote on Tanegashima Island at around 9:30pm where it docked until 5:00am the next morning.
The view as we approached Yakushima was impressive and the island was cloaked in a low mist. We docked right on time at 7am and disembarked at the small port of Miyanoura. It was less than a 10-minute walk to the nearby Yakushima Youth Hostel where we would be staying.
The return journey was much the same if not a little rougher. See the above video below which I shot at the time.
Yakushima Youth Hostel
Looking for somewhere to stay on Yakushima Island? Check out the wonderful Yakushima Youth Hostel which is right opposite the small port in Miyanoura.
If you’d like to know more about what to do on Yakushima including hiking, beaches and onsens, check out my complete guide to the island or check out this great list of 25 amazing places to visit in Japan from Swedish Nomad!
About the author: Steve Rohan, originally from England, has lived in China for over six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, the ancient capital of Luoyang and now resides in the tropical paradise of Sanya on Hainan Island.
He has travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, mostly by train, and has written about his travels for this blog as well as self-publishing his first book, Siberian Odyssey.
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