Reading the title of this article, most readers will most likely wonder what exactly this is and also where it is, not to mention how to get there. Yakushima, which could be translated as ‘eternal house island’, is part of the Osumi Islands and is located about 60 kilometers south of the third biggest of Japan’s islands, Kyushu. It rose to prominence in the western hemisphere when legendary director Hayao Miyazaki noted that the vast expanses of cedar forests on Yakushima were the inspiration for the landscapes in the famed animation Princess Mononoke. Prior to that, Unesco declared major parts of the Okudake mountain area a World Heritage site in 1993 to protect its unique flora and fauna.
Major parts of the mountain ranges are covered in thick temperate rain forests, which are terrific photo opportunities, as are the shrub areas above the tree line. Their giant rocks and boulders sit afield on mountain peaks covered in snow.
Some of the cryptomeria trees on the island are several thousand years old – the oldest being between 2000 and 7000 – and are counted among the oldest trees in the world. Many of the trees have names like Jomon-Sugi, Sandai-Sugi, or Daio-Sugi and are a central aspect of the island’s tourism. Many have their own folklore and extensive histories. With elevations of up to almost 2000 meters, the volcanic isle also has many peaks, which offer a beautiful view over the island, the upper slopes of which are covered in high bamboo grass. The mountain areas are...