Yakushima (屋久島) is perhaps the most pristine island in all of Japan. Far off the southern coast of Kagoshima, this small isolated island is untouched by the fast pace of cities and the pollution of the modern world. It is a real-life fern gully.
I spent 5 days hiking through these magical cedar forests. In this strange world of moss and mist, one’s heart is drawn into resonance with the ancient life here.
The cedar trees here are hundreds and sometimes thousands of years old. It was these forests that provided Hayao Miyazaki with the inspiration for the scenes in the film Princess Mononoke. Pictured below is the Yayoi Sugi (弥生杉), estimated to be 3,000 years old.
Pictured above is the Jōmon Sugi (縄文杉), the oldest tree in Japan. It is impossible to determine precisely exactly how old this tree is, but it is believed to be somewhere between 3,500-7,000 years old. Before the World Wars. Before Western Modernization. Before the inventing of the printing press. Before Christianity. Before the Roman Empire. Before Japan or any of our modern nation states. Before Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha). Absorbing rain and sunlight, growing. Indifferent and unaffected by the egotistical history of mankind.
The deer on the island have no reason to fear humans, so they will walk right up near you and gaze straight into your soul. Pure hearts.
The monkeys are playful as well.