Shiratani Unsuikyo is a natural ravine forest located on Yakushima, in Kagoshima prefecture. Best known for being the inspiration for Studio Ghibli's "Princess Mononoke", Shiratani Unsuikyo is an ancient forest whose moss-covered landscapes make visitors feel as if they stepped into a fantasy world.
The 424-hectare ravine dates back thousands of years, proof of which lies in its ancient cedar trees — Jomonsugi, Yayoisugi, and more. These special cedar trees are marked with a signpost and information about its origins and age. Shiratani's hiking trails are well marked in English and Japanese, with several hiking courses taking anywhere from one to four hours to complete. Although well-maintained, the trails are mostly unpaved; so proper walking shoes are recommended.
Apart from the atmospheric moss forest, the hiking trails also bring visitors to the Taiko-Iwa lookout where you can enjoy a bird's eye view of the picturesque Kyushu mountain landscape.
Shiratani Unsuikyo is located on Yakushima island, which is accessible via a ferry ride from Kagoshima. Yakushima is best explored via rental car, but there are several infrequent public buses as well.
30-minute drive from Miyanoura Port
35-minute bus ride from Miyanoura Port