Japan Photo Trek: Yakushima Island

Shiratani Unsuikyo: Princess mononoke's Garden; Yakushima Island

Not surprisingly, Yakushima – wet, wild, off the beaten path, and featured in poems, movies, and even video games – is on many peoples’ shortlists of “power spots” in Japan. The mountains and mossy, antediluvian cedar and cryptomeria cypress rain forest on this mist-shrouded island off the coast of Kyushu resonate with the kind of “ki” energy that draws poets, movie directors, and even computer game designers: the Beat poet Sansei Yamao and friends founded a community inland; the forests in Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke anime and the Dremuchij forest in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater were inspired by the green trees and rocks of Shiratani Unsuiko and the island’s mossy, mountainous interior.

Yakushima Highlands; Yakushima Island, Japan

Yakushima’s unique ecological diversity, the subtropical coastal areas reaching up 2,000-meter mountains to sa-sa  bamboo grasslands at the – snowy, in winter – summits, and the 1,000+-year-old yakusugi Japanese cedar trees, especially the millenia-old “Jomon sugi” tree have also been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Stump, Ancient Jomonsugi Cedar Tree; Yakushima Island, Japan

R. and I visited in the spring, when it rained – apparently it’s always raining on Yakushima – on our hike to the Shiratani Unsuiko Princess Mononoke forest and kayaked on the Anbo River.

See more photos at https://500px.com/tokyoaaron/galleries/yakushima-japan-s-lost-world-island

Other Resources

Yakushima thread on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree discussion forum

… and on TripAdvisor

Yakushima Life, a blog by professional hiking guide Jenny

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