Yakushima is a tiny subtropical island about 2 hours south of Kagoshima that seems to mainly exist on tourism. The beaches, coastline and forests are quite beautiful, but the big drawing point is the Yakushima cedar trees, or yakusugi
. These trees grown to massive proportions and the oldest ones are apparently around 7000 years old. One of my teachers gave a lesson on the most well-known of these, the jomon-sugi
, in an ethics lesson once, and I decided I had to get there.
Anyway, here are some shots of the Miyanoura port area.
We hired a car for next to nothing and drove around on the first evening before getting to bed early in preparation for the 430 wakeup the next morning to go hiking for Jomon (Jomon actually refers to the period in which the eponymous cedar is thought to have shot up. It means "rope patterns", because a lot of the artefacts found from this time are decorated with rope marks).
We were staying in the Jomon Youth Hostel, which is a fine place with free washing. It also continued our run of idiosyncratic hosteliers. This time was a tiny little lady, apparently born in the Kansai area judging from her manner of speech, who talked for hours on any tiny topic but never managed to look in the same place for more than a few seconds, so it was hard to tell whether she was zoning out and about to fall unconscious or just a little quirky. The Jomon YH doubled as a yakiniku restaurant, but unfortunately the free included in the room fee were not barbecued meat as we'd hoped, but other non-stunning crap. Oh well.
The next day we drove up the mountain to the departure point and embarked on our 8-hour hike through beautiful, fresh mountains, valleys and disused train lines, with some deer thrown in for fun.
By 10am we had made it to the big daddy. It must be admitted that it was a damn big, awesome tree, but the beauty and grandeur of the surroundings and the entire hike meant that it didn't really stand out as much as what I'd been led to believe. I had imagined stumbling into a dark clearing to discover a lone giant bathed in brilliant sunlight sneaking through the treetops, but what we got was this:
Don't get me wrong: it was completely worth going to see, but it wasn't the holy experience I'd expected. On the whole, the getting there was better than the being there. Of course, the trek back was a struggle, with a huge uphill section and of course no 7000-year-old tree at the end.
After a quick stop in the smallest onsen ever and a hijack of the YH's cooking facilities, it was pretty much nighty night. We'd had a long day.
The next was back to Kagoshima for some rain-interrupted hanami and a flight back to the all-new Kobe airport. Kyushu was a real blast - over a week or so we saw a deserted island, ancient forests, an active volcano, idyllic hot springs, modern metropolises, historical links with Europe, and a statue of a hat
. All written up just in time to go to South Korea this Saturday! Back with more in early May. Stay safe!