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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Wildlife on Yakushima (Day 214)

Crikey, so a small island, there is plenty of wildlife on Yakushima, which we saw today despite the rain.

Our night was rather disturbed, every now and again we could hear an extremely loud chirping noise. We’re not too sure if they were cicadas or frogs, whatever they were, they could make such a din for little creatures. Plus cars kept arriving, by 5am the occupants were getting out, chatting away and then disappearing. We got up and discovered that we were in Yakushima Museum car park. It also seemed to be the main place for people to leave their cars for the start of the Akaboshi Trek. We decided not to join them, it was pouring with rain and Tim’s legs were aching. Instead, we found a laundrette and luckily a young lady helped us with the machine. This one did everything – supplied the washing powder, did the washing and then dried it, all with 1 push of the button and Y800. We went off to fill up with petrol and found a café for coffee and a bun, similar to a Chelsea bun, but rather than cinnamon, it had matcha with almonds on the top. Luckily the taste was quite subtle as we are both not so keen on green tea. The rain was still pouring down. We carried on driving around the island and cheered when we had completed a full circle. It was a great drive, especially one section which is extremely wiggly. The young man who rented Bongo to us did warn us to be careful there. Bongo has quite a few knocks and bumps and all done in this area. It was a single track with the remnants of boulders that had plummeted down from the mountain. The trees overhanging the road sheltered us from what little light there was, making it dark and spooky. We were singing to The Best of Van Morrison, taking us back nearly 26 years when we did the same on our honeymoon in Italy. Suddenly, there were a group of Macaques on the road. It seemed that the head of the pack was reprimanding some of the younger ones. As soon as they noticed our car, all bar the head monkey scurried onto the kerb, sitting and staring. The leader sat looking rather miffed. We stopped the car to take a photo and just then a taxi turned up and two young ladies jumped out to take photos. They were either brave or stupid as it looked as if they were going right up to the Macaque, which can be quite aggressive. We drove on, leaving them to it. A couple of minutes later we saw a small herd of Yaku Deer, slightly smaller to the ones we saw in Nara and Naoshima. It was nice to see them in the wild rather than on the streets trying to eat plastic bags! By this time the rain was torrential and just as we drove around a bend we came across a young European looking guy cycling. We both burst out laughing, it was the shock of seeing him, and he nonchalantly carried on cycling up the very steep road. I am sure he will never read this, but just in case he comes across this – we both humbly apologise and respect him for cycling in such conditions.

We drove back to Miyanoura to buy some late lunch. Just as we arrived we saw a 1.5m long snake. Tim stopped the car to take a photo of it. Realising that a previous car had run it over, he lifted the snake by the tail and dragged it into the bushes – research tells us it was a Japanese pit viper, called the mamushi – and poisonous! After eating our sushi lunch and sitting in the Tourist Information Centre for coffee and wifi, we headed off to a very nice hotel for a decent Onsen. It had towels and hairdryers – luxury, plus an outdoor Onsen overlooking the bay, with the sea crashing onto the rocks, butterflies and birds flying passed…. And relax. By this time it was evening so we tried to find a restaurant. Third time lucky and with the help of google maps, we came across one that looked more like a small corrugated warehouse. If we hadn’t have seen the 17 reviews with average score of 4.5, we wouldn’t have stopped. It just shows that you cannot tell a book by its cover – a great lesson there on many levels for life, people and restaurants. We were warmly greeted by a man and perhaps his elderly mother. It had a homely feel, with memorabilia, books to read and posters of a guitarist. I wondered if it was the man in his younger days until I saw that one of the posters was from 2015. We sat at a large wooden table with wooden chairs, the seats made from slices of tree trunks, more comfortable that I would have thought. The food was delicious, we have enjoyed all our meals here in Japan; wholesome, healthy and tasty. I had miso soup, salad and a flying fish burger and Tim had pork, shrimp, squid with cabbage and crispy noodles. During the afternoon, we had researched where to sleep for the night. The places were either right by the main road or in a very windy spot, so we ended up with our friends the frogs or were they cicadas? I’m not sure – perhaps both. A wet, yet delightful day on Yakushima.

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