Into the primordial ooze – Shiratani Unsuikyo, Yakushima, Japan

Again, a traditional Japanese breakfast to start the day. After having a chat with Kentaro he managed to convince us to give ‘natto’ another try. Unfortunately the nasty natto hasn’t grown on us yet. Its still sticky, and it still tastes filthy!

After breakfast we had three choices; hiking at Shiratani Unsuikyo, spend a lazy day driving around the island, or hiking at Yakusugiland. In the end we decided to spend our next three days in that order (weather permitting, as the local saying is that it rains 35 days a month on Yakushima!).

The drive from Onaida to the Shiratani Unsuikyo trailhead up in the mountains probably took us around 90mins and was really enjoyable. The road winds its way up the mountain side giving outstanding views to the north and east out over Miyanoura. We also came across a rather grumpy looking macaque who seemed intent on getting himself run over!

The walk itself…? Its hard to describe in only a few words, but would have to be one of the most incredible and unbelievable landscapes I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing, and without doubt it fully justifies its world heritage listing.

Right from the first step you are immersed in a dim, wet, verdant forest environment that feels like you’ve stepped back to prehistoric times. Every branch is dripping with moisture, you’re walking through heavy mists that fade in and out of existence every few minutes, the occasional beam of light spearing down through the thick overhead foliage, fleetingly illuminating a glade or reflecting off one of the many streams cascading down the steep mountain sides. When you consider that some of the thick, gnarled cedars in this forest are up to 3000 years old you can’t help but feel like an insignificant impostor, walking through a stranger’s house uninvited. I just couldn’t put the camera down!

After around 3 hours we reached the end of our walk at Taikoiwa rock, where we were graced with sweeping views to the west, down into the next deep valley.

We then turned back and reluctantly made our way back to the car over the next couple of hours.

A very special day.