Yakushima – Welcome to Japan

Part 6

もののけ姫 の森

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My love for this place is beyond expressions.

My family and I visited Yakushima, mainly to see what impact it made on Miyazaki Hayao, who he is famous for Ghiburi Studio Production.  Specifically with his famous film, Princess Mononoke, which its image of the landscape came from Yakushima, the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine. Yet, seeing the breathtaking nature in person I can see how it made a significant impact on Miyazaki Hayao’s other Ghiburi film collections.

Yakushima is a Natural World Heritage Site, and you can only go in and out of the island via ferry or flight. I came in with Ferry, and my first impression was that there were no people and the ocean was so clear and beautiful.  Personally, I love these kinds of places where there is no site of the human contact (or at least it’s not too obvious), and how nature overpowers the existence of the island as if to know that we miss it.    To make this illustration more understanding, basically, there were no phone data connections, except in a little village, but even then it was very very slow.

We did take a one-day bus tour guide, by Sugi-san, I highly highly recommend it (only if you speak Japanese…).  He was so funny! Anyways, He took us to the basic visiting sites, and it was so great.  Typically, Yakushima is known for their rain, so it was foggy multiple days that we stayed…


Experiencing this island with its geography, forest, rain, ocean, and animals was so fun.  I felt like I was a little kid again.  I grew up in Nagoya, now the city is busier and becoming more modernized, but I remember it like yesterday where my home in Nagoya was surrounded by rice field where I tried to catch frogs and climbed trees to catch cicadas.  At Yakushima, going through the hiking trails and seeing animals made me realized how much I miss this nature that gave me liberty and freedom.

During the stay, I hiked through multiple trails meeting 大将 (monkey) and deer living together (sometimes the monkey would climb behind the deer getting free ride, and I thought that was cool~~), and seeing sea turtles laying eggs at the beach or taking a nap in the ocean.  Once you dive into the ocean from the beach, you see the vast sand dunes on the sea floor reflecting the sunlight, and the warmth of the water soothes your body like as if you are a mermaid.  As you swim, you may be able to spot two or three sea turtles resting on the sea floor sunbathing and enjoying the soft sand.  I went to Okinawa before, and I also snorkeled there, but something about Yakushima’s ocean that relaxed me.  Even now, I crave the Yakushima ocean that once touched my face. Definitely, renting snorkeling equipment is a MUST at Yakushima.

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I am an ocean lover, but as a Miyazaki Hayao’s fan, Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine trail hike was the most highlight of this trip.  As I begin my hike trail, the path becomes not so trail like.  The typical trail has concrete on a walking pathway or some sort of human touch, but that started to disappear.  The only way to really know where I was going was to follow the little orange flag that was attached to either trees or the ground.  Then, the ground starts to turn into moss.  Very famous characteristic of the landscape, and emphasized greatly on the film Prince Mononoke.  With so much leafs covering above me, I felt like the forest was watching over me.  I felt like the spirit, Kodama would appear any second. As I walked through, it may sound crazy but I felt the spirit of the forest and I appreciated that.  We can’t forget that forest lives too.

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