The View From Taiko-iwa in Yakushima

I could have sat there for hours.
This boulder with the fantastic view is called Taiko-iwa (太鼓岩), which means ‘large drum boulder’ in Japanese, and was part of our hike through Shiratani Unsuikyo (白谷雲水峡). But because S and I ended up taking so many photos here, I decided it deserved a post of its own.
Yakushima is an island largely composed of granite. It rose from the sea millions of years ago when the granite magma penetrated the Eurasian tectonic plate. I learned (i.e. eavesdropped on a tour guide walking behind us) that Yakushima is still rising about 1 millimeter per year. Isn’t that amazing?
Because of this, Yakushima’s mountains have granite boulders everywhere, although it may be hard to really tell because the forest covers ninety percent of the island. During our hike, we saw boulders of all sizes and shapes throughout Shiratani Unsuikyo, most of which were covered in moss. But Taiko-iwa is one of the more famous boulders for its view of the mountain range in Yakushima’s central region, also known as Oku-dake range (奥岳).
Taiko-iwa itself is 1,050 meters (approx. 3,400 feet) above sea level. From there you can see Miyanoura-dake (宮之浦岳), which is not only the tallest peak on this island at 1,936 meters (over 6,000 feet), but also the tallest mountain in the entire Kyushu region. The following six tallest mountains on Yakushima are also all higher than the tallest mountain on Kyushu mainland.
Am I the only one surprised that Yakushima has so many tall mountains, seeing as it’s not an island of volcanic origin? So interesting!
Oh and I almost forgot to mention this again…Miwa reminded me that much of Yakushima’s landscape was used in various scenes from the Studio Ghibli movie Mononoke-hime (もののけ姫), also known as Princess Mononoke. You can see the location of the famous “Damare kozo! (黙れ小僧!)” scene with Moro (the big white wolf) and Ashitaka (the boy) is based on Taiko-iwa.
Well, this post certainly ended up being a lot longer than I originally planned.
I wouldn’t change a thing about our hike that day but one thing I have to remember for next time I’m in Yakushima is to get a wide angle lens for my camera. I currently only have a pancake lens and the photos below don’t even compare to how vast and breathtaking our view from Taiko-iwa was. You know how a pancake lens zooms in on the whole picture.
But then again, these photos may be just enough for you to want to go see for yourself! x
Take a look:
Our amazing view of Oku-dake from Taiko-iwa.
The slit you see through the forest is Anbo River (安房川).
S and I taking in the grand view on the side of Taiko-iwa.
It’s really not a hard hike at all so everyone should stop by Taiko-iwa for the view!
We didn’t bring anything but Taiko-iwa is also a great spot to rest and eat your obento.
The obligatory shoe photo…I don’t know why but someone suggested we do this 😀
The fall was quite steep from Taiko-iwa, if you were wondering. Yikes.
Your phone signal is within range at Taiko-iwa, just in case of an emergency.
S and I taking a little break before heading back down the path.
I was too scared but S obviously had no qualms standing on the edge.
So happy to have taken in the fabulous view at Taiko-iwa!

8 thoughts on “The View From Taiko-iwa in Yakushima”

  1. Oh gosh, these photos are so beautiful!! Green everywhere… I absolutely love it. Thanks for all the interesting info, too (including the bit about Mononokehime!) And can I just add that the first photo (the one you posted on Instagram too) totally reminds me of this photo of mine. Weird how people end up sitting in the same position when they're admiring the view, huh?


  2. Your photos remind me of my hikes in Vancouver. The most recent, about 5 years ago, was the Stawamus Chief:

    It's also made of granite. 🙂

    The photos are lovely, but if I go there, I'm not planning to do any hiking. Just exploring the low lands and maybe a little hike in the woods but not so high.

    How long did it take to get up there?

    PS: S was wearing running shoes? Good enough for the trails up there?


  3. Oh, I bet Vancouver (and most of Canada, for that matter) have amazing hiking trails!

    I'm not really a hiker either. But this location isn't hard to reach at all. There are so many trails to choose from on Yakushima, you could probably just specify a time and someone would recommend a hiking course for you. We took the long way up to Taiko-iwa through different paths and went at a leisurely pace so it was about 4 hours round trip. But there's a path that goes directly up to Taiko-iwa from the entrance of Shiratani Unsuikyo and that's only a 5km hike (round trip). I think Shiratani Unsuiyo and Yakusugi-land are the easiest hikes to do in Yakushima 😉

    PS: I even saw a girl climbing in just regular flats. Then there are those people who climb Mt Fuji in flip flops, so anything is possible. But I would suggest at least sneakers. Definitely hiking shoes if it's raining or snowing.


  4. We'll see if I can go hiking or not. Still a long way off before I am over there though. 😦

    Hiking in flats? Sounds like a very easy trail. Flip Flops on Mt. Fuji is a bit crazy. I saw some of the people who live up there wearing flip flops. No one else. I might need hiking shoes before my next hike up Mt. Fuji.


  5. Yes, if you're used to walking then it's not a hard trail at all 😀

    My coworker is the idiot who climbed in flip flops, granted he was in college then. When I was climbing I also saw a young group of guys in leather vests (no tshirt) and fancy boots climbing up, too. Crazy sometimes works when you're young and have that energy, I guess. But I wouldn't recommend it though 😉


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