Yakushima is one of the islands in the Kyushu region. It belongs to the Kagoshima prefecture. It is world famous for its extensive and ancient nature. It is largely covered with primary forests. Due to such an important peculiarity, this territory became the first place in Japan to be declared a World Heritage Site of Nature.
Its mountainous relief takes the visitor, abruptly, from a subtropical zone to a sub-arctic zone, as if all the variations of the Japanese climate converged there condensed.
It has an area of 504.88 km² and has a population of approximately 15,000 inhabitants.
Its flora is extremely rich (1,900 species and subspecies). The island has some extraordinary trees called Yakusugi, a combination of the word “cedar” in Japanese and sugi, which are estimated to be between 2,000 and 7,000 years old. Its dense forests are home to thousands of cedars that recreate a mysterious atmosphere.
As a subtropical region with mountains reaching up to 2,000 meters high, Yakushima attracts a lot of rain throughout the year, in fact, a local expression says that it rains “35 days a month.”
The Jomonsugi is the main attraction on the island, as it is the oldest tree in Japan. It is estimated that it was discovered in the Edo period. As a curiosity, it was not cut by its strange shape. It was found again in 1960 and since then it has been protected along with all the magnificent nature of the island. It is around 25 meters tall with a trunk about 5 meters in diameter.
For fans of Japanese anime, this place is very important, as Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine was the main inspiration for the movie “Princess Mononoke” from Studio Ghibli. It is a lush green natural park displaying several of the island’s ancient cedars, such as the Nidaiosugi, Kugurisugi and Yayoisugi. From here you can continue the journey that eventually reaches Jomonsugi. The route is approximately 12 hours round trip.
There is also the Yakusugi Land, which is a natural park populated by various yakusugi (Yakushima cedars over 1,000 years old), such as Buddhasugi, Futatsugi, and Sennensugi, along with a number of well-developed trails leading to them.
Yakushima Island has been the testing site of the automobile manufacturer Honda, for the development of its hydrogen engine. Electricity on the island is produced by a hydroelectric power plant and the surplus energy is used to produce hydrogen, which is why Yakushima is considered a model for a society totally free of greenhouse gas emissions.
To visit this beautiful and suggestive island requires, at least, a full day starting from the morning.
It is a wonderful and perfect experience for people who want to connect with Mother Nature in a very deep and heartfelt way. The landscape and the energy of this place will leave the visitor breathless.