Monday, May 20, 2013

Yakushima, Japan 2013

Golden Week 2013

In Japan, Golden Week is a week in May where 3 national holidays occur so closely to each other that many people can take a 7-10 day vacation and only take 2 or 3 days off of work.  Yakushima is a small island off the coast of Japan's southern-most main island, Kyushu.  I live on Kyushu in Oita Prefecture.  Yakushima Island is part of Kagoshima Prefecture, south of Oita.  I took a train from Oita 5-hours south to Kagoshima, and then a speed boat 2-hours to Yakushima Island.  I spent 3 days and 4 nights taking in the sights of this beautiful, secluded place, to which most people travel to see the UNESCO World Heritage forest.  The most celebrated residents of the island are a special kind of cedar tree.  They have lived for thousands of years.  The conservative guess-timations say the oldest are approximately 2,000 years old, while legend says the oldest tree is 7,000 years old.  The landscape was so beautiful I wanted to move there.  The prominent rock face of the island is one of the most beautiful in the world I think, but doesn't get any publicity because of its location.  I'd say it rivals Diamond Head in Hawaii.   

This guy is "driving" his dog.  
Can you see the leash?
While on Yakushima Island I happened upon a very scary boar farm, got a tomato-like fruit that I've never seen before from a man on the side of the road... it looked like a yellow tomato and tasted like a cross between a tomato and a mango, hiked for miles and miles, made it to a peak, saw deer and monkeys in nature, had fresh guava juice from a tree farm, bathed naked in the ocean in a (co-ed!) onsen, perused little shops with cedar goods and pottery, climbed, saw beautiful trees, waterfalls, rivers, pools, and wildlife, and went twice to this little onsen with different etiquette than I am used to:  There were only 3 showers, so women sat along the edge of the onsen using bowls of water from the bath to bathe.  You have to be careful not to get soap in the bath!  This little old naked woman came over to me and was trying to explain that one of the showers had strong pressure and you were supposed to use that one for your hair.  A language barrier is one thing.  A language barrier while naked is another.  The volcanic water in this onsen was also hotter than I am accustomed to in Oita and Beppu; I could hardly stand it!

I most loved the lushness of Yakushima; so green and packed with flora everywhere you looked.  It was wonderful and I made so many good memories.  Enjoy the pictures!

Tiny Bento Beers

Look!  A Yaku-Josh.

The trails were rustic... had to climb ropes up at some points.

The trees are huge!!

I call this one, "Josh and tree."

The guest house sign:  It says the name which is "CHINRYUAN"
Flying fish served at my guest house.

Yakushika- Yakushima deer.

Huge cement jacks placed to break up tsunami waves.

A banyan tree, like in Saint Petersburg.

The tree is eating me!!

This is an outdoor public onsen, in the ocean.  Very rare.  Fresh, hot volcanic water fills the pools.  You must get naked and wash yourself before getting in.  This onsen is only accessible at low tide in the am and pm.
Use of tatoo are not possible in this institution. LOL!


Japan Top 100 Waterfalls

Japan Top 100 Bodies of Water

Found this secret beach at the end of an unmarked trail that started at the waterfall.

Monkeys in the road.

The only "toilet booth" I saw in the 4 hours it took to get to the peak

See the little guy?  These guys are around in the forest and you are supposed to look for them.  Also, these Yakushima forests are the inspiration for the movie "Princess Mononoke," a Japanese animated movie by Hayao Miyazaki- the same guy who made "Totoro."  Both very popular in Japan.  I recommend them.

Yakushima Island was the last place I HAD to go in Japan.  It was awesome.  And as luck would have it, I get to go to Hiroshima and Shikoku Island (again) before I leave Japan on July 30th.  I'll bike from Honshu to Shikoku for 70km over "the seven bridges."  It should be beautiful and a memorable late trip in my stay here.  Check back for those pictures! 

From Japan,

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