Japan (March 29 - April 8, 2017): Hiking in Yakushima


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The start of the climb of Tachu-dake is marked with a green dot. The start of the climb of Kuromi-dake and Koban-dake is marked with a brown dot. The yellow dot marks the location of the Hananoego marsh (花之江河). Average hiking times between small white dots are given along the various sections of the trails.


On this trip I spent three days in Yakushima, from March 30 to April 2. I set my ″base camp″ at the friendly Manmaru guesthouse in the small town of Anbo on the east coast of the island. I did two hikes, one to climb Tachu-dake (1497m) and another one to climb Kuromi-dake (1831m) and Koban-dake (1711m). See maps above. For these two hikes I used the services of Jennifer Lue, an American guide based in Yakushima. In addition to being an excellent guide Jenny is also a 5 Dan in Kendo.


Yakushima is renowned for being the wettest place in Japan and one of the wettest in the world. It is even more famous for its mystic mossy forests and its yakusugis, Japanese cedars aged 1000 years or more. Many of the yakusugis are so special that they have been given nicknames by local people. On both counts I haven′t been disappointed: it rained a lot throughout my first hiking day and I saw magnificent forests and yakusugis on both hikes.


Fishing boats in the port of Anbo.


River of Anbo.




As one would expect in a wet mountainous island, Yakushima has many waterfalls. These two are particularly impressive, especially on rainy days, and are accessible by road:

- Senpiro-no-taki.



- Oko-no-taki (88m high).


Climb of Tachu-dake, 1497m (March 31):

Tachu-dake is famous for the big granite monolith that stands on its summit. On good weather, this monolith is visible from far away, including from Anbo. The climb is not very long, but occasionally steep. It crosses some spectacular rivers and passes by giant yakusugis before reaching the less densely forested summit area. Unfortunately, on that day it rained heavily without interruption from start to finish and with some heavy wind near the summit. The rivers were impressive, but the views were limited and taking pictures was almost impossible.


Rivers on the way up.



The mossy atmospheric beauty of the forest.



Giant yakusugi.


Left: the 40m-high monolith standing at the top of Tachu-dake. Right: an ancient small shrine under the monolith that is regularly visited by local pilgrims.


After a full day of rain, the rivers on the way back were even more impressive than on the way up.




Climb of Kuromi-dake, 1831m, and Koban-dake, 1711m (April 1):

For this climb the weather was much friendlier than for Tachu-dake, cloudy but without rain in the morning, and partially sunny in the afternoon. The summit of Kuromi-dake offers a 360dg view over many peaks of the island. The summit of Koban-dake is famous for its huge arrangement of granite boulders collectively nicknamed the Tofu Rock, as it looks like a sliced piece of tofu.


Kingen, a yakusugi estimated to be 3000 years old, located on the side of the road soon before reaching the Yodogawa (Yodo river) entry of the climbing trail. See the topographic map at the top of the page.


Yakushima macaques near the start of the hike.



In the forest at the beginning of the hike.



The crystal-clear Yodo river crossed immediately after passing the hut located about 50min from the trailhead.




Gnarled tree roots on the trail.


Tree with a bright yellow-redish bark.


Some amazingly shaped trees along the way.



Intermixing of trees and rock.


Towering yakusugis.




Scenery above tree line: a spectacular patchwork of greys, greens, and browns. The granite monolith at the top of Tachu-dake is visible in the background on the right-hand side of the photo.


Kohananoego peat marsh (marked 小花之江河 in the topographic map at the top of the page). The Tofu Rock at the summit of Koban-dake is visible in the photo on the right.



Hananoego peat marsh (marked 花之江河 in the topographic map) crossed shortly after leaving Kohananoego.





Small ancient shrine in the marsh.


It was mating season for the toads in the marsh!


Boulders below the top of Kuromi-dake.





Sign marking the summit.


Views from the summit:

- Toward the north, with Miyaroura-dake (1935m) visible in the background.


- Toward the east.


To climb Koban-dake, we returned to Hananoego marsh. This is Koban-dake seen from Hananoego.


In the forest along the trail to Koban-dake.



Forest surrounding the summit of Koban-dake.


Granite boulders forming the Tofu Rock at the top of Koban-dake.


View of the Tofu Rock from a location slightly below Hananoego. A sliced piece of tofu? Or a sliced loaf of French bread?




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