The forests of Yakushima island, inspiring sceneries of Hayao Miyazaki's film Princess Mononoke

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Do you like fairy tales? Have you already heard of mysterious unspoiled forests sitting on an almost circular island where time stand still, where there is a very wide biodiversity of about 1 900 different species/subspecies of flora, 150 bird species and 16 mammal species?[caption id="attachment_3369" align="alignright" width="212"]5078389015_542bb02640_b Credit: www.flickr.com[/caption]Located in southeastern Japan (Kyushu Island), approximately 61 kilometers south of the southern tip of Osumi Peninsula in Kagoshima prefecture, and with a particular climate ranging from humid subtropical to cool-temperate, this place has a name: Yakushima Island.[caption id="attachment_3375" align="alignleft" width="183"]Credit: Wkimedia Commons Credit: Wikimedia Commons[/caption]Also known as “the island of ancient forest and water” because of its lush vegetation, it is home to an ancient species of tree, the sugi (a Japanese cedar), considered as the symbol of the island.Among these trees, some are over 1000 years old and called Yaku cedar. Only one unique cedar, discovered in 1996 and situated at an altitude of 1350m, is called Jomon sugi, as its age is estimated to date to the Jomon Period of Japanese history (from 2170 to 7200 years old according to the various theories about its age). This single example is assumed to be the largest and the oldest in the world.[caption id="attachment_3374" align="aligncenter" width="240"]Credit: Wikimedia Commons Credit: Wikimedia Commons[/caption]Now you better understand why one fifth of the island is registered as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site (since 1993) and why Yakushima inspired the forest imagined by Hayao Miyazaki in the movie Princess Mononoke.[caption id="attachment_3371" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Credit: www.deviantart.com Credit: www.deviantart.com[/caption]If you are ready to have a walk there, you will be pleased to know that there are plenty of courses from beginner to intermediate level: Yakasuki land (4 courses with a required time ranging from 30 m to 2 h 30), Shiratani Unsui-kyo Gorge (3 courses from 1 h 00 to 5 h 00), Jomon-sugi round trip (reservation by the day before on the phone or over the counter and with a duration of 9 h 00).[caption id="attachment_3373" align="alignleft" width="300"]Credit: Wikimedia Commons Credit: Wikimedia Commons[/caption]Apart from this, there are many other good sightseeing spots with notably 6 mountains peaks over 1800 m high, including Miyanoura-dake, the highest mountain in Kyushu rising to 1935 meters (giving the island its other name of "Alps on the ocean") in case you want to try trekking.Remember that there is something like 10 000 mm of rainfall in a year in the mountainous area, so be cautious and do not forget to bring water-proof clothes, to carry your phone in a sealed plastic bag, and also to submit a mountain climbing registration form to a tourist information center (in town or at the airport).[caption id="attachment_3376" align="aligncenter" width="573"]Credit: www.jnto.go.jp Credit: www.jnto.go.jp[/caption]Yakushima island Address: Yakushima-cho, Kumage-gun, KagoshimaAccess: See the above map for more information- By plane:From Kagoshima Airport to Yakushima airport - 35 minFrom Itami (Osaka) Airport to Yakushima airport - 1h35 min- By ferryFrom Kagoshima - 2 types of transportation1. Orita Kisen “Ferry Yakushima 2” / To Miyanoura only / expected time: 4h / One way fare: 4900 yen2. Taneyaku Jetfoil “Toppy” “Rocket” / To Miyanoura & Ambo /expected time: 2h to 3h / One way fare: 8800 yenTransportation within the island- Rent a car:1. From Miyanoura & Ambo: Toyota Rent a Car - Tel : (03)5954-80202. From Yakushima airport: Nippon Rent a Car (Airport) - Tel : (03)3485-7196- Taxi:1. From Miyanoura, Ambo, Airport - Matsubanda Kotsu - Tel : (0997)43-50002. From Miyanoura & Ambo - Yakushima Kotsu Taxi - Tel : (0997)42-0611 / Tel : (0997)46-2321Hours & Fees:Admission in the forests: 300 yen donation for the maintenance (optional for students or kids)Recommended season:Probably April/May or early June when respectively azaleas and rhododendrons are blooming (if you like flowers)Contact:Yakushima Tourism Association310-1 Koseda, Yakushima-cho, Kumage-gun, KagoshimaOpen: 8:30–18:00 Tel. (0997)49-4010Sources:(1) http://www.jnto.go.jp/(2) http://japan-magazine.jnto.go.jp/