SAM IN JAPAN: YAKUSHIMA

After Koyasan we returned to Osaka for the night and the next day we got on a plan to go to Yakushima Island.  Yakushima Island is accessible via 2 ways and that is either by boat or by air.  Since I get sea sickness quite easily we opted for the plane ride instead however it was a pretty bumpy ride since there was quite a bit of turbulence along the way.   Yakushima Island was another destination that was on my ‘Bucket List’ that I had to visit.  Besides being an absolutely beautiful destination with wonderful friendly people, great sites to see and amazing food it was also the main inspiration for the beautiful backgrounds you can see in the animated movie “Princess Mononoke”.  Im myself am a big fan of Studio Ghibli so once I had heard about this place I simply had to see it with my own eyes.

An example of Princess Mononoke’s forest from the movie

Upon arriving at Yakushima we picked up our hire car near the port area and made our way to our accommodation for the next few days.  I highly recommend hiring a car to get around the island as public transportation whilst is available is not practical as most of the attractions around the island are either very far away or only accessible by car.  You can opt to join a tour group however car hire is very cheap and much more convenient.

Our accommodation for the the next few days was the very quaint very cute Cottage Morinokokage.  It’s a small collection of cabins that remind you of small cottages with a Disneyesque sort of feel to them.  The very gracious and wonderfully brilliant man who runs this establishment with his family is Nakashima who speaks fluent English and is very friendly and informative when it comes to his hometown.  There is a very interesting story to Nakashima who originally was in charge of the IT department for Tokyo Disneyland but after years of working there quit and moved back to Yakushima to start his own business.  All of the cabins that are currently there are constructed and designed by himself and are decorated to have an old English feel.

After we settled in we spent the rest of the day getting to know the area by checking out some of the local sites and driving around the island.  We had planned to do some hiking whilst in Yakushima as it was highly recommended but was told it would take at least a couple of hours to complete so we thought it best to reserve a whole day for that.  In the mean time we checked out other sites like the local onsen, some smaller hiking trails, coffee shops, tourist centres and such and mostly driving around the island enjoying the scenic view along the way.

The next day we prepared ourselves for a full day of hiking.  We are pretty novice when it comes to hiking but we were told that most of the visitors usually can handle the particular trail that we decided to go on.   The trail we walked lasted about 6 hours from start to finish ( this trail is a return trip ).  You can choose to take short cuts if you can’t complete the whole trail but just be aware the trail does get a little rough.  There’s some climbing over rocks, over small rivers and up narrow hill paths so just be prepared and be careful when hiking.

The trails themselves are absoulutely breath taking.  For those that have seen the movie “Princess Mononoke” it truly is almost like in the movies except more awe inspiring.  There are rocks, moss, trees and mountains that are just truly beautiful and unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  I spent most of the hike resting along the way and taking pictures of the beautiful forest that I could.  I really don’t think I could capture the magnificence of this forest but I tried my best.  This trail that we went on wasn’t even the nicest one, according to Nakashima.  It was one of many although the ‘better hikes’ are more for those that are accustomed  to hiking and maybe best to avoid if you are a novice.

For our last few days in Yakushima we spent them exploring the rest of the island, which if you drive around continuously non stop should take about 2-21/2 hours.  It’s a gorgeous view with views of the mountains covered in forest and the sea’s shore from all around.  If you have time definitely check out on the beaches near sunset and drink in the magnificent view.

I hope you all enjoyed this week’s post on Yakushima.  It’s a lot longer  than my other previous posts only because this was such a wonderful experience.  I encourage anyone to definitely make this destination a must go place if you are ever in Japan.  Look forward to the last post on Japan covering the last days in Kagoshima and Tokyo, till next time :).

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