Dr Ernest Henry Wilson (15 February 1876 – 15 October 1930)
2014 marks the 100th anniversary of botanist Ernest Wilson`s adventure to Yakushima in February of 1914. He is famous in Yakushima for having a giant Yakusugi stump (Wilson`s Stump) named after him, and the day hike to this beautiful remnant is well worth the effort.
Wilson`s Stump is thought to have been a huge Yakusugi possibly over 3000 years old at the time of cutting (somewhere between the 1580`s & 1590`s). This was a direct order from the Daimyo Lord Hideyoshi Toyotomi who wished to use the prized Yakushima sugi to build a hall which would house a great Buddha statue at Hoko-ji Temple in Kyoto.
It is the only known tree to be felled prior to 1635 when a local ordinance gave Yakushima residents permission to cut Yakusugi trees.
During Wilson`s 1914 plant expedition to Japan he quickly learnt of a special island in the Kyushu archipelago. Very soon after his arrival to Tokyo he revised his itinerary and headed immediately for Yakushima.
The then train ride to Kagoshima City, the gateway to the southern islands, took nearly 2 full days. His auspicious timing was during the volcanic disaster of Sakurajima`s biggest recent eruption, a blast so violent it turned the island into a peninsula connected to the eastern side of Kagoshima harbour.