YAKUSHIMA EXPERIENCE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE HIKE
JOMON SUGI 9-12 hours
- ¥35 000 private solo guide
- ¥22 000 per person for 2 clients
- ¥20 000 per person for 3 clients
- ¥16 000 per person for 4 or more
- 1 Litre water capacity (mountain stream water points)
- Solid hiking shoes/boots
- Waterproof jacket
- Day pack ~ 35 litres
- Headlight (early start)
- Spare warm layer
- Lunch is included but bring a few extra snacks!
- Moderate/Difficult (Tramway, Mountain Trail)
Jomon Sugi, located at 1280m altitude, is hailed as the oldest Cryptomeria japonica Yakusugi known in the world. It`s age is not known for certain, but numerous attempts to accurately date this amazing tree have it at between 2,600 and 7,200 years old. The conservative estimates of 2,600 years would in fact mean it is not the oldest Yakusugi, as there are several Yakusugi with an estimated age of over 3,000 years. But given the range of estimates, it can be reasonably assumed at around 4,000-5,000 years.
YAKUSHIMA QUICK FACT: A common misconception is that Yakusugi trees are part of the cedar family. Yakusugi will often have cedar written with their name in English, and this is actually incorrect. While there are definitely many similarities in character to cedar, they are in fact part of the cypress family.
“Cryptomeria (literally “hidden parts”) is a monotypic genus of conifer in the cypress family Cupressaceae, formerly belonging to the family Taxodiaceae. It includes only one species, Cryptomeria japonica (syn. Cupressus japonica L.f.). It is endemic to Japan, where it is known as Sugi (Japanese: 杉). The tree is often called Japanese cedar in English, though the tree is not related to the true cedars (Cedrus).” – (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptomeria)
Jomon Sugi was a well kept local secret in Yakushima up until the late 1960`s when it was `rediscovered` with the help of a Yakushima local. Jomon Sugi`s popularity grew and the tree soon became a destination for nature enthusiasts. This interest has continued until today, and the day hike to see this old, stately flora is the most popular hike on Yakushima.
The hike is not a `stroll in the park`, but rather a long, full day trek deep into Yakushima`s mountains. From the Arakawa Trail Entrance the hike starts on an old, semi-converted logging tram line (that is still in use today though not to the same extent as the Edo Period logging bonanza). This trail is easy to follow, and has numerous historical points of interest from the logging days. It has a few places with views up into the higher parts of the island along the way, but generally it flows through the forest, following firstly the Arakawa River, then the original Anbo River (the naturally flowing river as opposed to the coastal Arakawa River which has a dam controlling its volume). This river is incredibly clear and the water pools can be a spectacular cobalt blue.
This tram line goes for just over 8km before turning off the tracks and onto a mountain trail called the Okabu Trail. From here until Jomon Sugi the path is a more traditional hiking trail that follows the contours of the land. While there are some wooden ladders, walk ways and a few hand rails to assist, the path can be quite challenging and parts of the trail often need to be taken with some caution and concentration.
Due to the popularity of this track there are always other people around, which can be a social way to hike as people always say hello. The Japanese are particularly pleasant hikers, and they generally smile and greet other people. If you prefer to hike in more solitude, I would recommend one of the other hikes, as Jomon Sugi can have from 100-700 people on the trail in any given day. However, it is a long hike and there are long periods of hiking without anyone around, so if you have set your heart on seeing one of the greatest living beings in the world, it is a wonderful YAKUSHIMA EXPERIENCE!