On our second day in Yakushima we woke up early to begin our hiking adventure. And by early I mean 9:30. By which time most of the serious hikers have been on the trail for 3 hours. We were headed to the slightly easier and shorter Shiratani Unsuikyo trail, also known as the Princess Mononoke forest hike. We did two different hikes here, the first a 5 km trek through yakusugi trees, or yakushima cedar trees. These trees are thousands of years old. Some Japanese people believe them to have magical properties. They were amazing, the largest trees I have ever seen!
Then we took a 4km hike through the moss covered forest said to be the inspiration for the settings of Princess Mononoke, a famous Japanese animation film. Everything was covered in moss and astonishingly beautiful. It was like stepping into another world. I’ve never seen anything so green. At the end of the hike there is a look out point which involves a 1/4 km practically vertical climb to the top. As I struggled up, I saw a blind man with a seeing eye dog on his way down, so there was no backing out. At the top is a rock that looks over the mountains and valleys, it was extremely windy!
After our hiking adventure, which took over 7 hours due to our slow pace and copious photo breaks, we headed to our favourite diner, stax cafe for a pick me up of french toast and taco wraps.
You can’t hike in Japan without visiting hot springs afterward, so we went to a spectacular seaside onsen to relax.
Things were going too well, so on our way out we dropped the key to the hostel down the sewer. Luckily, we were able to mcguiver it up using branches and grass and got out of there seconds before the rain came. Perfection.