Yakushima is one of the Osumi Islands belonging to Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. The island, 504.88 km² in area, has a population of 13,178. Access to the island is by hydrofoil ferry (7 or 8 times a day from Kagoshima, depending on the season), slow car ferry (once or twice a day from Kagoshima), or by air to Yakushima Airport (3 to 5 times daily from Kagoshima, once daily from Fukuoka and once daily from Osaka). Administratively, the whole island is the town of Yakushima. The town also serves neighbouring Kuchinoerabujima. The majority of the island is within the borders of the Kirishima-Yaku National Park.
Yakushima's electricity is more than 50% hydroelectric, and surplus power has been used to produce hydrogen gas in an experiment by Kagoshima University. The island has been a test site for Honda's hydrogen fuel cell vehicle research.
World Heritage designation
In 1980 an area of 18,958 ha was designated a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve. In 1993, 10 hectares of wetland at Nagata-hama was designated a Ramsar Site. It is the largest nesting ground for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle in the North Pacific. Yakushima's unique remnant of warm/temperate ancient forest has been a natural World Heritage Site since 1993. In the Wilderness core area (12.19 km²) of the World Heritage Site, no record of past tree cutting can be traced. The island is visited by 300,000 tourists every year.