Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Trekking In Yakushima - Explore The Course Virtually!
Yakushima island in Kagoshima prefecture was the first place in Japan to be designated a World Heritage site, in 1993. It is the favorite trekking destination for many domestic and international travelers.
Written by LIFE STYLE, Inc.
Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture is famous not only in Japan but also all over the world, as an island where a pristine natural environment is preserved. It was the first place in Japan to be designated a World Heritage site in 1993 and its popularity is constantly rising.
Did you know that you can follow Yakushima's trekking course through Google Streetview? You can actually see the course from the trailhead all the way to Yakushima's main attraction, the Jōmonsugi. This article is about exploring the mysterious Yakushima with the help of Streetview.
The Location of Yakushima
Yakushima is located 60 kilometers south of Satamisaki, the southernmost cape in Kyushu. It is a very small island, about 1,000 kilometers from Tokyo and approximately 500 square kilometers in size.
The island first came into being about 15 million years ago. Near the end of the Mesozoic era, a diastrophism occurred, and Yakushima was created. People settled in from about 7,000 years ago, and the current population is around 13,000.
Although there are many mountains, beautiful waterfalls and beaches in Yakushima, we will take a look at the trekking course to the ancient cedar tree - Jōmonsugi.
The Tramcar Tracks
You can see tramcar tracks at the start of the trekking course. This path will take you all the way into the heart of the mountain.
Click and drag on the screen, and you will be able to feel as if you were walking along the tracks.
The tramcars were formerly used to transport the Yakusugi (Yakushima cedars) lumbers. Currently, they are sometimes used for the transportation of maintenance material to support the facilities such as lavatories. But it is scarcely used, so the trekkers who actually see the tramcars can consider themselves to be very lucky.
After a while, a bridge appears. The trek along the tracks, with the sound of the river, is very soothing. The view of the surrounding mountains also refreshens the mind.
The tracks stretch for two-thirds of the trekking course. After it ends, a rugged path running through the tree roots begins.
You will see a snowscape, because this Streetview was recorded during late winter. Also, the Wilson Stump comes into view.
The Wilson Stump
This is the largest stump in Yakushima, and it is said to be 3,000 years old. An American botanist, E.H. Wilson discovered this stump on a field trip to Yakushima. It was named the Wilson Stump, after the botanist introduced it to the world.
The opening in the center of the screen is the entrance. In case some people might miss it, there is a sign nearby. Turn the view 180 degrees to the left, and you'll be able to see people admiring the stump. Let's take a look inside.
The inside of the stump is hollow. There is also a small stream, running from a spring.
Look up from the inside, and you can see a heart-shaped opening above. Turn the Streetview screen around, and look for the shape of the heart.
The Ancient Cedar Tree - Jōmonsugi
In the center of the screen stands Yakushima's most famous cedar tree, the Jōmonsugi. There is a fence around the Jōmonsugi, for preservation purposes. The trekkers will have to admire the tree from a nearby wooden deck. It might not be clear, but by zooming in, the trunk of the Jōmonsugi can be seen.
It takes more than five hours on foot to reach the Jōmonsugi, but seeing it in person is really rewarding. Try the Yakushima trekking course on your next trip to Japan.
Address: Kagoshima, Kumage district, Yakushima-chō
Credit Cards: -
Menus Available In: -
Stations: Yakushima Airport, Miyanoura Port, Anbo Port
Access to Yakushima by Airplane:
Ninety minutes from Osaka/ Sixty-five minutes from Fukuoka/ Thirty minutes from Kagoshima
Access to Yakushima by Ferryboat:
About four hours from the Kagoshima Port.
*Using a high-speed boat, the time varies from one hour and forty-five minutes to two hours and fifty minutes, depending on which ports to use.
Official Site (Japanese): Yakushima Tourism Association