We had never tried bathing in a Japanese hot spring, and after a cold day of hiking in the rain, that seemed like a fun way to relax and warm up. The setting was gorgeous--set in the rocks, next to a blue and gray rocky beach. There is a restaurant nearby with parking. There aren't any special faciliies for bathers, but the restaurant will sell you a small towel and a drink. Changing had to be done behind some rocks--say goodbye to any kind of privacy. The boys and girls sides are divided by a wooden partition, but this doesn't stop anyone from looking wherever they want. Bring a plastic bag for your clothes in case it rains and you don't want them getting wet (we didn't have the foresight for this, and regretted it). It started to rain while we were there, and perhaps because of the bad weather, the water was less than toasty warm. One Japanese man put a bowl on his head and insisted we all do the same. Not quite sure why, but it added to the whole setting's charm. Overall, quite enjoyable.
Yakusugiland is the main attraction of Yakushima Island. But in spite of this, when we first arrived we had the whole park to ourselves. It's very remotely located up in the mountains. Be sure to keep track of the bus schedule -- you don't want to be stranded up there! On the bus ride up, we passed a dozen litle macaque monkeys, picking at fleas and playing with their babies. In the park itself we saw several Yakushima deer, including one that was curious enough to approach us when we offered it a cracker.
There is a small admission fee for the park, but it's worth it to use their beautifully laid out trails, which include several suspension bridges over breathtaking gorges. Later in the day, one tourist-filled bus arrived, but those folks only stayed on the shortest trails. We had the longer trails all to ourselves, although the outer trails aren't nearly as well maintained. Be prepared for a lot of narrow paths up steep and sometimes crumbly rocks. Yakusugiland's big claim to fame is its thousands of years old cedar trees. And those monstrous old trees are impressive, indeed. But more than that I enjoyed the general landscape. Rocky and tropical, full of cascading streams and dark green leafy foliage. But be prepared for rain! It rained about 85% of the entire time we were in Yakushima. By the end of our hike we were all soaked, which had more than dampened our spirits as well.
While hiking in Yakusugiland, I kept getting exciting every time I'd catch a glimpse of a deer in the distance. Turns out I didn't need to be chasing those deer after all. When we got to the end of the trail, there was a deer right in front of me. Not only did he not run away, but when I took out a cracker, he happily ate it out of my hand.
Keep your eyes open for the wild Yakushima macaques. They could be anywhere, often hanging out in family groups. And they were amazingly unafraid of people and cars.