I paid JPY7,800 for 1 night for Single pax with half board Please check Sora-Mame's website for updated pricing
Note: Children under 10 may not stay at Sora-Mame Guest House
Yakushima is an island in the Kagoshima Prefecture and is most famous for Yakusugi (1000+ year old Yakushima Cedars). Many tourists travel to Yakushima just to hike and see these grand Yakusugi in cedar forest that contained Japan’s oldest living trees. Buses can be infrequent; thus most tourists would rent a car to get around the islands and to reach hiking places.
Access to Yakushima from Kagoshima is either by plane or by ferry. It may be possible to travel to Yakushima directly by air from Osaka or Fukuoka.
About Sora-Mame Guest House
Sora-Mame Guest House is in a small neighbourhood on the southern part of Yakushima, just off the main road that encircled the island. It is a 2-storey home where the guest rooms, shared sinks, toilets and shower are on the 1st floor, while the owners lived on the 2nd floor.
All stays at Sora-Mame Guest House are with shared toilet and shower facilities. Guests have a choice of staying with or without half board (dinner and breakfast).
My room at Sora-Mame Guest House
I stayed at Sora-Mame Guest House on my second night on Yakushima. When I arrived, the owner Nao-san met me and showed me to the room. I was the only guest that day and was given a very spacious room with twin beds. Room was bright and clean, and bed was comfortable. A check on their website showed that all the rooms were spacious.
Nao-san told me about the nearby onsen where most guests would visit, but it wasn’t convenient for me so I used the shower instead. She mentioned that residents around the area get a special onsen discount and they go there daily. What a lovely privilege for residents living there!
The view from my room was very rustic, with vegetable plots and fruit trees. I totally love the tranquility of the location and the relaxing scene. If only it wasn’t so cloudy that day, I would have been able to see starry sky that night from inside my room.
Sora-Mame Guest House might look small from the front, but it was a long house. From my room, I had to walk pass 2 bedrooms before reaching the restroom area. After that was the sink and shower area.
At night, the hall had sensor triggered lights so guests didn’t have to fumble with light switches or walk in the dark to use the toilets. The shared facilities were all very well maintained, clean and neat. It is a beautiful guest house.
Meals at Sora-Mame Guest House
I had booked the room with half board as I knew I was going to reach Sora-Mame Guest House in the late afternoon and closed to dinner time. I didn’t want to spend time searching for food in an area I wasn’t familiar with and in the dark, and just wanted to relax for the night.
When I stayed at Sora-Mame Guest House, I was already traveling for 2.5 weeks since the start of my 3 months WESN Epic Hana Chase trip across Japan. Thus, having some home-cooked food was a welcome change. The food might be simple fare, but it was delicious and full of that home feeling.
Nao-san taught me the difference between Tokyo style soya sauce (more savoury) and Oasaka style soya sauce (sweeter). Like her, I preferred the Osaka style soya sauce which tasted better with the sashimi.
For breakfast, I was served a Western breakfast set with egg omelette, sausages, salad, toast and jam, soup, juice and yogurt. Everything was delicious and a great start to my 3rd day on Yakushima.
What I like about this lodging:
The house has a clean homey feeling and the room was spacious and bright. It was cloudy and rainy the day I got there, so I didn’t get a chance to use the telescope or see the star-filled night skies.
Nao-san and her husband were very welcoming, and I felt very much at home. I loved the Yakusugi table in their dining area. I liked how the hall lights were sensor trigger so there was no worries about walking and fumbling in the dark to go to the toilet at night. Everything was so neat and clean.
It was very welcoming to have delicious home-cooked food. Nao-san was very kind to keep me company while I ate, and we had such an enjoyable conversation. I felt comfortable staying at Sora-Mame compared to some home-stays.
Do look out for the Sora-Mame sign as the turning could be easily missed. I drove past it without realising and had to make a U-turn.
What I wish it could improve on:
Guess I wasn’t aware that only a face towel was provided but I always travelled with a towel in Japan, so no issue for me. Most guests would probably have gone to the public bathhouse and could rent a towel there.
One thing I wasn’t quite comfortable with was the changing area at the shower, there wasn’t any lock for the blind door. Which meant anyone could pull the blind door aside while I was changing. Luckily, I was the only guest that day, so didn’t have to worry about someone walking in unexpectedly.
An update from Nao-san: Sora-Mame Guest House now provides bath towel and they have installed a lock at the blind door for the changing area outside the shower stall. I’m very happy to hear they have made the improvements so their guests could have a comfortable stay.
About the Hosts – Nao-san and her husband
Nao-san and her husband were from Tokyo. They visited Yakushima for holiday many years ago and Nao-san fell in love with the beauty of Yakushima. On the day they were returning to Tokyo, Nao-san made a life changing decision. She and her husband decided to give up the corporate lifestyle in Tokyo and moved to Yakushima for a different lifestyle and be closer to nature.
They run Sora-Mame Guest House during the Spring, Summer and Autumn months; usually from March to mid-November. Do check with them to ensure they are open during your planned dates. During the Winter season, Nao-san and her husband turn farmers growing the local Tankan (orange) and rice.
Book a stay with half board as there aren’t a lot of dining places nearby and roads are dark at night. It will also give you a chance to try some home-cooked food.
If your stay is during a clear cloudless night, do request to use the telescope to view the night sky.
If you’re planning to go hiking in the mountains the next day, Sora-Mame Guest House can assist you to order a Bento set and have it delivered before you set off. Please let them know in advance. Bento set cost is additional.
Check with Nao-san if there are any frozen Tankan juice you can purchase. I didn’t get a chance to try it frozen as it was out of stock during my stay. Tankan juice is delicious.