Friday, August 7, 2015

Day 17 - Yakushima and its Sugis

We went to Yakushima by ferry again. However this ferry was no conventional boat, but a hydrofoil. Looked like a boat from the outside, but like a jet airplane from the inside. You had boarding cards with assigned seats and had to wear seat belts all the time. Fortunately our pension host in Yakushima made ticket reservations for us because no one spoke English and not a single announcement or sign was in English - the ferry company does not even run a English language web site. So we finally entered an area virtually free of foreign visitors...

After arriving at Anbou Port, the idea was to be greeted by our car rental representative and being provided with a rental car - but soon the terminal became empty and we were still without a car. So we waited in the shade of the port house for about one hour. Fortunately, a polite Kiwi offered help who lives for some months on the island. He is a farmer on the South Island of New Zealand and a temporary English teacher on Yakushima. He visits the island often to learn about new ideas for his farming (he grows tropical things) from the Japanese. He shared some advice for visiting the island for about 45 mins and also told me that Yakushima for Japan is like the Italian part of Switzerland - a little slower and more relaxed ("Island Style"). And probably that is the reason for this representative being so late. Unfortunately, he arrived exactly when my father was gone to organize some food for us... And we could have needed this Kiwi farmer to translate our English into Japanese, because the guy couldn't speak much English.

Second Generation Cedar Tree: a new cedar tree is growing
on a huge old stump
When my father came back, we enjoyed our first Japanese 'emergency' Burgers. After loading the little car with all our stuff, we drove into the central island over one lane streets. Fortunately, Switzerland counts to the five or six countries that are allowed to rent a car in Japan if you bring a Japanese translation of your driving licence. The reason for driving to the island middle is the part of Yakushima National Park called Yakusugi Land. It was incredible!! Sugi means "cedar tree" in Japanese, and Yakushima is famous for its very old primeval forests and the oldest sugis worldwide. Old means really old, i.e. 1000, 2000 years or even older!

We were very lucky not to cross or way with one of the few buses that drive up to the mountain forest on these narrow roads. At the entry we could choose between four different paths through the moss and cedar tree forest. We chose the 80 mins path - and it could have been more. Although I sweated like a pig, the landscape was breathtaking. Every step was mossy, mossy trees everywhere, it looked so untouched. Cicadas sounding, wind blowing (only sometimes unfortunately)...

Watch your step
1800 y/o sugi: the Buddhasugi
3000 y/o sugi: the famous Kigensugi

I really cannot describe how peaceful it was to touch some of these trees, or the mossy ground, it seemed so clean and innocent.

Daily ceremony for ape families: delousing. But the island is not only inhabited by 20000 humans and 20000 apes, but also be 20000 deers! However the deer was not so exciting for us because we saw a lot of deer on Miyajima already.

Very Hawaiian feeling. 
One dish of our first dinner in our
pension - freshly caught sashimi
After having hiked though the forest, we drove to the southern end of Yakushima to our pension. First I was a bit sceptical because it has only three bedrooms and you have to share bathroom and toilet - but when we had dinner, I changed my mind! The couple that hosted us, was amazingly friendly! The served fish was caught by our host in the afternoon, as fresh as it can be! Though the beds were a bit too small for me, I slept very well because I felt so comfortable!

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