Exploring Yukushima Island

Japan is a land of much folklore, legend and mystery – after all, there is the saying that every myth holds a grain of truth. In combination with this comes the nation’s abundance of locations that fit such tales and fables perfectly, either through historical events having passed that place, or through a sheer atmospheric vibe.

Yakushima Island is one of the places in the Land of the Rising Sun that could have been taken right out of a fairy tale. It is located just south of Kyushu, Japan’s main island, and is truly a sight to behold and should definitely be on any visitor’s agenda to visit – the island is generally considered as one of the most rewarding sights to experience in all of Japan.

The island is home to the ancient Jomon Sugi tree and is thus designated as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since the early 90s. In addition to the island’s lustrous forestry, one can partake in some truly scenic hiking spots around the more mountainous areas. Speaking of mountains, Yakushima’s mountain range is also home to the highly prolific yaku-sugi, a special type of tree. The trees have much history associated with them and tower very high into the sky, and are even said to have been a significant inspiration for the famous Japanese animated film, Princess Mononoke.

 

After a busy day of exploring the island and revelling in the atmosphere of the dense forest, visitors can go relax in the nearby sandy beaches or local hot springs, both easily found – not all that surprising given the island’s relatively small size, measuring in at only just under 550 square kilometers. An interesting fact to note is that the island is one of extreme internal contrast. The rocky mountains are the cause of some rather dry weather, whereas the innermost parts of the island is considered one of the wettest places throughout all of Japan, hence it is recommended for anyone visiting to pack appropriately. The mountains are often covered in snow during the winter months, while the other side of the island, the coast, will be pleasantly warm. Contrasting, indeed.

Given the island’s small size, it should also be noted that there is little public transport and getting lost could be disastrous as finding civilization could prove to be a challenge. Hiking is only recommended in a sizable group or with a guide, while equipped with appropriate gear and an updated map.

First image by tripideas.org

Second image by japan-guide.com

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