Isso is a village located at the northernmost part of the island. Famous for its natural harbour, Isso had been the main port on the island until 1960, when a new port was built in Miyanoura. Isso was the biggest village on the island in 1950, with a population of 2,823. It was a bustling fishing village with many inns, shops and even a cinema. Today, it is the fourth biggest village on the island. There is a beautiful sandy beach, ideal for swimming and on the other side of the road is another beach great for snorkeling.
Also known as Hachimansama by the locals, it’s a shrine in a small cave by the sea. It’s not known when the shrine was first built but the oldest record goes back to 1887. It is a shrine for safety at sea and a big catch.
From Yahazu (bus stop 13) take the road to the east of the beach, between the sandy beach and the rocky beach. Walk for about 20 minutes and you will get to a small shrine gate. Go down the set the stairs and walk along the sea. Further up the road takes you to Isso Lighthouse.
A small waterfall that only appears after some rainfall. Worth visiting if you are in the area. Get off at Isso Iriguchi (bus stop 14) or a short walk towards the village from Isso Beach.
Site of mackerel smoking factories
It is said that people started tuna fishing in Isso in 1202 and mackerel in 1885. Smoking factories were located in various places in the village. However, fire used to breakout from time to time from the factories. And in 1928, a fire broke out in the middle of the village and burned down many of the houses to the coast, including the village temple. October of the same year, the mackerel smoking factories were relocated here on the east bank of Isso river. Now only one remain at this site. Another smoking factory is located on the other end of the village.
Gatherhouse Cafe Kiyokonnegai
This is a place where tourists mingle with the locals, sitting around a beautiful yakusugi (ancient cedar) table placed in the middle of the cafe. A great place for socializing, run by a super-friendly, English-speaking owner. Serves pasta and omelet with smoked fish produced just across the river.
From Isso bus stop, walk towards Isso River, Turn left before crossing the river and take a right. Walk on the narrow path by the river. It’s the three-storey concrete house on the left.
Hours: 11:00 to 15:30
Closed: Thursday and Friday
Kiyokonnegai (Facebook page)
One of the few shops open from when Isso was a bustling fishing village. Sells freshly baked bread and traditional Yakushima sweets. The most popular is yomogi-kan (sticky rice cake with mugwort) and Tankan-kokuto (brown sugar with tankan) make a great snack for a hike.
From Isso bus stop, walk towards Isso River. Turn left before crossing the river. It’s on the right.
Hours: 7:00 to 19:00
Getting to Isso
15 minutes, 500 yen from Miyanoura Port (stop no. 20). Get off at Isso (stop no. 11).