Yakushima!

3 Nov

Thought I’d post some pics from the Yakushima trip I took in October. Unfortunately, my pics are not that great. Please check out my friend Tanya’s posts here and here, where she’s got some much better shots than I took.

But I’ll do my best with what I have.
So in early October, the three of us traveled to the southern tip of Kyushu, and hopped a 3-hour ferry to the island of Yakushima. Yakushima is a place that’s very vibrant and evocative in the minds of many Japanese people. It’s kind of like…idk…going to Alaska to see the Northern Lights for Americans. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a national park, and was immortalized in the animated movie “Princess Mononoke” by Hayao Miyazaki, who is basically Japan’s Walt Disney.

Yakushima is famous for its trees. We trekked for hours through luscious, fervently green forest, admiring the foliage, moss, waterfalls, vines, and especially the enormous, ancient “mother” trees. The mother trees are dead trees that other trees have started growing out of – I’ll show you a diagram of it below. Here are some photos of our three days of hiking and camping….

That is, sadly, the best picture I have. Even though the photo doesn’t compare to the shocking brightness of all that green in the forest, and it doesn’t give you a sense of the beautiful light, you can see just how rich and full and green the Yakushima forests were.

To get the hikes, we generally took public buses that climbed halfway up the mountains for us, to reach the actual designated paths. Those mountain drives were stunning:

We hiked through the mountain forests, climbing rocks, and crossing waterfalls:

We crossed bridges and canyons (some of us, ahem, even got a little wet)…

And we saw some REALLY gnarly trees

And things only got more crazily beautiful from there. In the tallest mountain we climbed, the trees and plants got even denser, a nice, moody fog descended on us, and the greens got rainforest-bright. It was truly unreal.

I’ll finish with my favorite (dead) tree, an enormous fallen cedar tree that’s quite famous. Seeing giant trees is lovely, but seeing a giant, fallen tree is…well, it stops you in your tracks. This fellow fell down ages ago, and we hiked by his tremendous trunk that sits along a hill. He’s now covered in new growth, of course, like everything on Yakushima, and when you get to the top of the hill, you see his old roots

Standing next to a fallen tree this big provokes a strangely spiritual reaction. Its presence is just so enormous that you can’t help but feel and be affected by it. It’s like standing atop the Grand Canyon, or staring out over the ocean.  As Bryna (or Kant?) said, there’s just something there bigger than you’re capable of understanding. And that’s a weirdly reassuring emotion.

Bryna said something else that I haven’t forgotten. That if someone had asked her before what the most beautiful part of a tree was, she never would’ve considered the roots – until now.

 

Oh, and I promised I would show you the diagram of the mother trees. Here it is, with an example below:

There’s even more I’d like to post but I guess I’ve gotta stop somewhere……❤❤❤

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