When you think about traveling in Japan, where do you think about going?
If you think of Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Mt. Fuji, and some famous and well known places, you may be missing out “the attraction of Japan isn’t only in these places!” Many different kinds of great attractions exist all over Japan. They can offer visitors a great experience with nature, culture, food, and people without the large crowds. Did you know Japan is composed of 6852 islands!? There are a lot of remote islands with unique attractions, regardless if there are people living there or not. This time I would like to introduce the attraction of one of the remote islands named “Yakushima”.
Yakushima (屋久島) is located at the southern part of Kagoshima Prefecture, on Kyushu Island. To get there, you have multiple choices from Kagoshima City: airplane (about 30 mins), fast ferry (about 2 hours), and ferry (about 4 hours). It really depends on your budget, and how much time you have during the trip. Airplane rides are also available from Fukuoka and Osaka. If you want to hang out in Kagoshima City, taking ferry is a good way because the pier has good access from central Kagoshima. This can give you time to explore and do sightseeing around the city.
90 % of Yakushima is occupied with mountains that range in height from 1000 meters to 1900 meters. These mountains are the highest in the Kyushu area. These high mountains and the wind from the ocean bring a lot of rain to Yakushima. Because of this, it is often said “it rains 35 days in a month” or “it rains 8 days in a week” in Yakushima. However, these conditions form a very unique environment. At the mountain top, it snows in winter time and is colder than Sapporo City in Hokkaido (the most south part of snowing place in Japan)! Because of this climate, we can see various kinds of flora from subtropical to subarctic zone even though it belongs to the subtropical zone. Amazingly, it’s one small island!
Yakushima is well known for cedar trees that are thousands of years old. These trees which are over 1000 years are called Yakusugi. Usually cedar tree lives for 500 years or so. The island is made of huge granite with poor in nutrition for the trees, so the cedars grow up so slowly. However, this makes the tree thicker and richer in resin that prevents them from rotting. A part of the forest was registered as a World Natural Heritage site in 1993.