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Aiming for the eternal big trees of Yakushima

We will want to reach the Joumon Sugi cedars of Yakushima. Let’s try following the hardest of all available paths!

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s enter the path that leads to the cedars!

This entrance is called Shirataniunsuikyo. It takes about 6 hours to reach the cedars from here. It might be difficult to climb back in the same day, so let’s set up a camp!

Looking at the waterfall of Hiryu Otoshi, let’s start climbing the mountain!

You will soon find “the waterfall of Hiryu Otoshi” as soon you get started.
Along the stream, flowers such as satsuki, hosobahaguma, and yakushimashouma grow in great clumps.

After you go over the Satsuki suspension bridge, there finally is a mountain.
The pedestrian deck surrounded by the virgin forest is waiting for you.

Going through the forest of moss and virgin forest.

As you step in the mountain, you feel like that you are in the world of moss and laurel trees. There is also a model place of the famous animated movie of Hayao Miyazaki, “Princess Mononoke”, so don’t miss it.

If you go even further up, you’ll move from the Terihaju forest right into the Yakushima cedar forest. The famous names of the trees include Nidai Oosugi, Sanponashi Sugi, Sanpon Yari Sugi, Bibinko Sugi and Bugyou Sugi.

The one pictured in the photograph is Kuguri Sugi.

Just like the name indicates, you can pass through a tunnel when following the path (“pass through” is “kuguru” in Japanese).

Let’s enter the deeper parts of the Yakushima!

You can enter the deeper parts of Yakushima after following the trolley path. The trolleys were added in the 12th year of the Taisho era to help the lumberjacks carry the cut down trees to their villages, but they are no longer in use since the 44th year of the Showa era.

Presently, the tracks are sometimes used to transport important maintenance materials for managing facilities such as toilets you can find on the mountain path. They are also used to carry old stumps or fallen and buried trees. If you are lucky, you might see one of them.

The deeper parts of Yakushima are a treasure trove of old cedars that can be well over 1.000 years old. This is one of the older ones. The upper part of the tree is already starting to wither and is covered in many epiphytic plants. One of the characteristics of the Yakushima cedars is that the new trees grow on the older, bigger ones. The name “grandpa trees” really suits these ancient plants!

And this is the biggest tree stump in Yakushima!

“Wilson stump” is believed to be the biggest stump in Yakushima Island.
It was said to be cut down and hauled out by the order of Taiko Hideyoshi.
The circumference at chest height is 13.8 meters and one can enter inside of the trunk.

Looking up from inside of the trunk, the is sky shaped as a heart.
A time to allay fatigue from mountain trekking.

Is measurement of tree age unknown? Trekkers’ prayers for the ancient Jomon cedar

About six hours of mountain trekking finally leads trekkers to the ancient cedar.
Trekkers should observe the cedar some tens of meters away to protect it.
Yet, the big size is simply overwhelming.
The tree age is said to be 2000 years or 4000 years.

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