Yakushima, the first Natural World Heritage site in Japan, celebrates its 30th anniversary of designation this year. While the peak in tourist numbers has passed, it remains a popular destination, drawing travelers not only from within Japan but also from abroad.I visited Yakushima, having paved the way as both a World Heritage site and a tourist destination, to gain insights into the path that Amami Oshima for the future.The objective was to understand the mindset of the local guides, particularly adept at handling inbound tourism, and how they conduct tours. On the first day, I joined a tour led by Mr. Aida Junichi (Jun), a representative of Yakushima Geographic Tour.

Shifting gears a bit, in September of this year, the Adventure Travel World Summit, a business event gathering travel professionals from around the world, was held in Hokkaido. Yakushima was the location for the Pre-Summit Adventure (PSA) tours that took place prior to this event. Jun was the tour’s through guide during this tour. It was a must to go and hear the stories. That’s why Jun guided me through one of the PSA courses, the western forest.

When we think of Yakushima, images of Shiratani and Jomon Sugi come to mind, and the Western Forest Road might not be as familiar. However, that’s the point. The true essence of this tour is experiencing the ‘authentic’ untouched nature that hasn’t been developed for tourism.

The Western Forest Road isn’t commercialized, and during the tour, we didn’t run into anyone. Instead, deer and monkeys were running around, and they didn’t pay much attention for us.

The plants were growing abundantly.

Jun mentioned that while being able to speak English and having knowledge are important factors when guiding foreign visitors, ultimately, one’s personality are crucial. Indeed, participating in the tour this time, Jun’s pleasant personality and his enjoyable way of guiding made a great impression. It was a meaningful day where we got to learn about the current situation on Yakushima and hear insights from a guide’s perspective. Frankly, the tour was incredibly enjoyable, so when you visit Yakushima, I highly recommend joining Jun’s tour.


 少し話は変わりますが、今年9月にAdventure Travel World Summit という、世界中の旅行関係者が一堂に集う商談イベントが北海道で開催されました。屋久島はこのイベント前に行われるPre Summit Adventure(PSA)のツアー実施場所でした。そのツアーでスルーガイドという全行程同行するガイドを務めたのが会田さんです(お客様は外国人なので全行程英語)。お話を聞きにいかないわけにはいかないですよね。ということで、PSAのコースの一つである西部林道をご案内していただきました。