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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Unique Yakushima (Day 215)

The wonderful unique Yakushima, so what is so unique about this small island?

Firstly, our heart filled thoughts go to the people of Osaka who have been affected by nature’s devastation. It was only two weeks ago that we were staying there for a few days, drinking coffee in @Giragirachariya and spending time with new friends Hiroko and Hiro. We were feeling a little bit sad. It was our last day in Yakushima and we are coming to the end of our trip to Japan. Yakushima is a fascinating island, especially for hikers and geologists. What is so special about Yakushima? It is blessed with a unique ecosystem unlike any other on earth, with high mountains, rare in the region at around 30 degrees north latitude and natural areas of biological, scientific and aesthetic significance. Because of this, Yakushima, this small island was designated as Japan’s first World Natural Heritage Site in December 1993. From my limited understanding of geography, what I understand is that because the Palaearctic and oriental biotic regions meet here this results in a huge array of rich flora. This small island offers a gradual change of vegetation, from the coastal plants with subtropical elements, rainforest to cold-temperate bamboo grassland and a high moor near the summit. Japan has up to 2,000mm rainfall per year, however, in Yakushima it is in excess of 8,000 mm annually and don’t we know it! It has about 1,900 species and subspecies of flora; my favourite was the many stunning hydrangeas lining the roadside which I have come to love. Due to the humid conditions, there are many rheophytes, weird and wonderful aquatic plants, and an abundance of mosses, ferns and orchids. And of course we can’t forget the ancient Japanese cedar trees that Tim and I saw a couple of days ago; remnants of unique warm-temperate ancient forest. Our morning (sunny – hurrah!) was spent exploring the pillow lava fields by the coast. Not too impressive apart from the many butterflies, a large orange spider and unfortunately some midges who have had a field-day chomping on my legs. Oh – I was doing so well avoiding them. We then found a delightful little café, sat in there for quite some time catching up on stuff. We were the only ones there, how they make their money I don’t know. Onto the ferry car park and the young guy who we hired Bongo from turned up, such a nice young man. He loved it that we had given his van a name. It tickled him pink. We chatted about travelling, he has been to Australia and saw the total eclipse and would love to go to New Zealand. We had a laugh telling him about the Wicked Camper we’d hired and he hooted when we showed him the photos. Our ferry ride was fine, a little bit choppy which I only noticed when I was carrying two hot cups of coffee. It was cancelled yesterday due to the typhoon! Oh, we thought it was a bit windy and rainy. We met up with the Swiss lady we’d seen on our way to Yakushima, so had a nice chat with her, sharing our experiences and then sharing a taxi to the train station. The very nice taxi driver gave us all a fan, how kind and generous. I think I got the best one, don’t you? Our journey to Kumamoto was fine, two trains, a bus and a short walk in the dark to our Airbnb – and we made it – we didn’t go wrong at all – Hurrah! Perhaps we’ve got this travelling lark sussed. The home was empty, our host said that he was out until late, so we found our nice large room and went to sleep, ready for our last full day in Japan.

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