The Sankara Hotel and Spa Yakushima: A Remote Tropical Island Gem in Japan

The Sankara Hotel and Spa Yakushima: A Remote Tropical Island Gem in Japan

Against an unforgettable backdrop of natural beauty, the Sankara Hotel and Spa Yakushima sparkles, complementing the serenity of its surroundings and offering guests an oasis of tranquility, an opportunity to unplug and commune with nature, and an unparalleled experience of luxury and relaxation.

Venture to the extraordinary

The UNESCO World Heritage Site island of Yakushima, located in Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture, is a hidden gem that offers an extraordinary experience for nature lovers and those seeking a tranquil escape from modern life. This primeval temperate rainforest, renowned for its 1,000-year-old cedar trees and lush, mythical landscapes, attracts eco-adventures and those looking for a truly unique experience surrounded by the beauties of nature. Nestled within this enchanting island lies the Sankara Hotel and Spa Yakushima, a haven of calm that complements the surrounding serenity and offers guests an unparalleled visit of relaxation and indulgence. From the challenging trails up Mount Miyanoura, the island’s highest peak, to the endangered loggerhead turtles nesting on its pristine beaches to cascading waterfalls and serene rivers, Yakushima beckons nature enthusiasts seeking harmony with the world. After a day among such splendor, return for a restorative spa treatment and a relaxed dinner at Okas before being lulled to sleep by the sounds of the forest. Then, awake with the sun, rejuvenated and inspired, for the extraordinary adventures that await.

Sankara welcome drink


True to its name, “Sankara”—meaning “blessings from Heaven” in Sanskrit—the Sankara Hotel and Spa Yakushima aims to provide guests with heavenly blessings at every turn. From the moment of arrival, guests feel at one with nature. Step into the open, airy reception area and admire the endless views across the sparkling infinity pool and beyond. Guests are greeted by a personal butler who ensures a seamless and delightful stay and sets the tone for a harmonious retreat, epitomizing the philosophy of “wa,” representing the Japanese art of living in peace and harmony.

Sankara guest room

Rooms with a View

Twenty-four light-filled guestrooms pay tribute to the timeless allure of Japanese aesthetics. Showcasing an artful blend of modern simplicity and traditional charm, they frame awe-inspiring views of the ocean, gardens and forests that define Yakushima’s pristine landscapes. The décor features intricate textiles and draws on time-honored ideals, such as wabi (transient beauty), sabi (the beauty of natural patina), and yūgen (grace and subtlety). The warm teakwood accents pay homage to the island’s ancient cedars. Bathrooms are richly appointed, and a lovely selection of signature bath amenities are crafted free from parabens, phenoxyethanol and artificial fragrances, in favor of only the purest ingredients.

Sankara chefs

Culinary Delights

Dining becomes a gastronomic experience that pays tribute to the time-honored connection between land and plate in both of the on-site restaurants, Ayana and Okas. Chef Kenji Hayashi, a culinary virtuoso, passionately celebrates the abundance of Yakushima and curates menus that showcase the very heart of the island’s delectable offerings. Additionally, the hotel’s verdant grounds are a treasure trove of fresh produce and herbs and serve as the kitchen’s own cornucopia of flavors. Ayana offers casual, prix-fixe dining in teak-filled, Balinese-inspired surroundings. The menu skews European, although guests staying consecutive nights may request a Japanese-style meal. Okas Restaurant takes center stage with its theatrical open-air kitchen, permitting guests to marvel at the skillful preparation of French delicacies by the talented culinary team. The sumptuous French full-course evening menu delights the taste buds with “cuisine naturelle,” thoughtfully crafted to showcase the bountiful gifts of nature. Mornings are greeted with a continental-style menu, including not-to-be-missed freshly baked breads made with Yakushima-grown yeast and locally sourced water as well as fresh smoothies and juices that change with the bounty of the season.

Sankara waterfall

Make a Splash

At any time of the day, the saltwater infinity pool at Sankara Hotel & Spa Yakushima, with its majestic mountains and ocean views, creates a breathtaking backdrop for guests to relax and unwind. In the land of the rising sun, the sunsets are undeniably inspiring as shades of dusky orange and pink transition into inky velvet, filling the skies with stars and creating an ambiance of absolute enchantment, perfect for an evening stroll or a light refreshment at the poolside bar.

Sankara spa

Revitalizing Spa and Healing Center

The Sankara Sana spa draws inspiration from the island’s lush surroundings and traditional Japanese healing techniques. “Sana-being” is the art of achieving a harmonious state, where mind, body and spirit unite to create a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Here, an array of treatments provide guests with the opportunity to connect with nature’s healing energy through the aromas and therapeutic properties of herbs, spices and botanicals. Highly skilled therapists play a pivotal role in guiding guests on a transformative journey, harnessing the essential essences of the ocean, mountains, forests, water, rain and sun to create personalized and blissfully restorative healing, promoting a sense of peace and serenity, and leaving you centered and balanced.

Sankara outdoors

Immersive Outdoor Experiences

Nestled amidst the island’s enveloping beauty, Sankara Hotel and Spa Yakushima offers much more than just luxurious rooms, exquisite dining, and a revitalizing spa experience. Guests have the opportunity to immerse themselves in an array of activities and excursions that showcase the island’s natural wonders. Guided nature hikes lead visitors through ancient forests, where they can marvel at the towering cedar trees that have stood the test of time.

For adventurous souls, take a guided hiking tour to the heart of Yakushima National Park, by Mr. Nobu Ohki, SankaraHotel and Spa's Activity Director.Mr. Ohki will lead you on a challenging but rewarding tour, with dazzling views from a staggering 1,831 meters above sea level. Explore hidden waterfalls and kayak along crystal-clear rivers for unforgettable memories. Witness the enchanting Yakusugi Land, a designated area where visitors can explore ancient cedar trees on accessible walking trails surrounded by pristine wilderness. The island’s unique topography ensures that every outdoor experience on Yakushima is an extraordinary adventure, forging a deep connection with nature’s wonders. There are also opportunities for snorkeling and diving among the rich and vibrant marine life found in the surrounding waters.A Stay to Remember:A haven of luxury and tranquility, the Sankara Hotel and Spa Yakushima is steadfast in its commitment to cherish the environments it embraces, harmoniously blending with the natural landscapes, revering local culture, and exalting timeless traditions. Guests are invited to embrace the pure, natural wonders of Yakushima.

Sankara outdoors

Article and Photos by Raquel Baldelomar

Raquel Baldelomar is an entrepreneur, author and journalist. She is author of Sugar Crush (HarperCollins, 2015). Her journalism focuses on how travel leads to a unique kind of productivity, creativity and wellness. She can be found at