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The Jomon sugi trail

The star attraction of Yakushima, Jomonsugui, is a wide cedar tree, or yakusugi, accepted as the oldest tree in Japan. With an age span somewhere between 2000-7200 years old, Jomon Sugi was grown in the Jomon period and originally found in the Edo period by island loggers. Ever since then, hikers pilgrimage to the top of Miyanoura mountain to marvel at this natural phenomena.

  • The Jomon sugi trail

    The Jomon sugi trail

    The discovery of Jomon Sugi sparked an environmental protection movement for the forests of Yakushima. Tourism spiked in 1993 when the ancient tree was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aware of the not so cautious tourists, the residents and officials of Yakushima created an observation deck around the tree. Now, observers can only look from the deck, about 15 meters away from the tree itself. However, the spirit of Jomon Sugi can still be felt from afar.

    The Jomon sugi trail

    The Jomon sugi trail

    The journey to Jomon Sugi is just as divine, if not more, than seeing the primordial tree. There is no easy way to access Jomon Sugi. The only way is via hike which can take up to ten hours. Along the trail, hikers can see all of Yakushima’s natural wonders, including other yakusugis, rivers, and gentle, native animals.

  • ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    The Arakawa trail is the most popular hike to Jomon Sugi and the easiest to follow. Be sure to prepare well before the hike to access the trailhead. Private vehicles are restricted and hikers must take a bus to the beginning of the trail. The price depends on the amount of days the hiker will be on the trail - 2,000 yen for two days and a return ticket or 1,380 yen for one day and return ticket (690 yen for one way), plus a 1,000 yen donation fee. The bus system prevents the negative environmental impact on the island from gas fumes. In the busy seasons, the buses fill up. Be sure to get there well before departure time. Bus tickets are sold in major tourist spots around town, including the information centers, bus stops, and major hotels.

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    The Arakawa trail is actually divided into two parts, the Anbo trail and the Okabu trail. The journey begins on the Anbo trail, which is an abandoned railroad track. This path is easy to follow and, after the tracks, the path is well paved with stone or wood.

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

  • About 30 minutes into the Okabu trail, hikers will stumble upon Wilson’s Stump, another popular attraction on the island. It was named after the botanist Ernest Henry Wilson, who visited Yakushima in 1914. Wilson’s Stump was previously the tallest cedar tree in the forest, at 44 meters. The tree has long fallen over, estimated about 300 years ago, and is now a hollowed out stump of a former tree. Hikers can now access the inside of the stump and see a heart shaped hole at the top.

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    The Okabu trail is much more wild and less marked than the Anbo trail. The trail is still relatively easy to follow as thousands of hikers have eroded their own path and marked borders with neon ribbon.

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    Right before the famed Jomon Sugi is its slightly shorter brother, Daio Sugi. Daio Sugi was thought to be the tallest cedar tree on the island until Jomon Sugi claimed the title. The tree is still colossal, at 24.7 meters tall with a 11 meter diameter. It is thought to be around 3,000 years old. Daio Sugi is the yakusugi closest to Jomon Sugi.

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    After walking kilometers over railroad tracks and slippery dirt roads, hikers can finally see their reward. The Jomon Sugi stands at 25 meters with a 5 meter diameter. The tree stands on Miyanoura at 1,300 meters. Just a glimpse of the primordial tree makes the long trek well worth the distance.

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

    ARAKAWA TRAIL

  • Overall, the hike is about 22 kilometers and takes about 9-10 hours to complete the round trip. Most hikers leave at daybreak to return before sunset. The weather on Yakushima is unpredictable but is normally misty and cloudy. Crowds are the highest in the warmer months, from March to December, with August being the busiest. The crowds can get so large that visitors will have to wait for a turn at the observation deck.

    Yakushima
    Address
    Kagoshima prefecture Kumage gun Yakushima cho
    Phone
    0997494010
    Jomon Sugi
    Address
    Kagoshima Prefecture Kumage-gun Yakushima-cho
    Phone
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