YAKUSHIMA - WHEN TO GO
WHEN TO GO
Yakushima is not only Japan's, but one of the world's wettest locations. The annual rainfall is between 4,000mm around the coast and 10,000mm in the mountains.
Don't let this put you off visiting though, as there are many fine days on the island and the climate in the south is considerably drier. The mountains affect the island's weather so much that even though it can be raining heavily in one spot, just a few minutes drive away you can sunshine.
Whenever you decide to visit, come prepared with waterproof clothing. Remember, a lot of gear and clothing can be rented on the island.
Lets take a look at the seasons in more detail:
The Rainy Season(tsuyu)
The rainy season is from early June to mid-July and has 2-3 times more rainfall than other months. It literally rains every day!
It is still possible to go hiking in the rain, provided you have waterproof clothing and gear (or don't mind getting soaked) as temperatures are warm. It is always advisable to check if the trails are open before you set out.
The typhoon season!
The typhoon season usually starts around the end of the rainy season and can continue into late-October.
If you are stuck on the island during a typhoon then there is no need to panic, the greatest inconvenience is that access to/from the island will be cancelled and you'll likely be stuck in your hotel.
The island has a small cherry blossom season around the coast, but from the end of March to early April the mountain cherry blossom (yamazakura) covers the mountains in a stunning pink haze. Spring brings both sunshine and rainy days with lots of strong breezes. By the end of April temperatures are around 60F. May offers beautiful hiking conditions, but is also the month of Golden week - the busiest time of the year.
Summer is the peak season in Yakushima with temperatures hovering around 85 - 90°F, and balmy sea breezes making the island a much more comfortable place than the Japanese mainland. The humidity is high, but the mountains are considerably cooler than the coastal areas, making this is a popular time for hiking. The sea, rivers and waterfalls also provide a number of ways to have fun and stay cool.
Around mid-September the humidity levels will start to drop and the evenings will be a little cooler. Autumn is probably the driest season on Yakushima and clear, sunny days are prefect for hiking. Trails will be much quieter in October and November, although you may need a warm later in November, especially at higher elevations.
In winter the northern end of the island is often very cloudy, damp and cool, while the southern part is significantly drier, sunnier and milder. The whole coastal area is sub-tropical, meaning that the temperatures here never fall below zero. However, there is deep snow in the mountains.
January and February are the coldest months when the temperature on the peaks can go as low as -10°C, but feel much colder with the wind chill. Hiking the interior mountains at this time of the year requires alpine equipment and should not be attempted without a guide. The exterior mountains are more accessible and those close enough to the coast will be snow-free all winter.