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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



Summer Holiday 2006 - Day 2

My first plain old weekend for a while, and I've got some time before the rugby to continue with my holiday saga.

Having arrived in Yakushima first thing on Sunday morning on the overnight ferry, our first concern was to get something to eat. We hadn't had time to get any dinner the night before, and there were only drink vending machines on the ship.

As we disembarked, we noticed an information centre at the ferry port, but it didn't open until 8:30am, so we decided to take stroll to another part of the beach front to take a look around, and found a small rest area where we are some Pringles that I had brought with me from Tokyo. Eventually a souvenir shop on the other side of the road opened up at around 8:00, and we got some bread for lunch there. Already it was blazingly hot, and we headed back to the information centre at the port. The dock of the "Toppy" ferry that we would head back to Kyushu mainland from was also right there in the same place.

We killed a few moments in the information centre building before a lady came along to open it up at 8:30.

One of the "must do" activities at Yakushima is a 22 km hike (a day trip) through the middle of the island, eventually taking the fit and healthy to the foot of a massive Cedar tree reputed to be more than 7000 years old (known as "Jomon Sugi"), judging by it's size although scientific techniques have dated it at more than 2000 years - a good age nonetheless.

I had already booked lodgings on the south side of the island in Onoaida (the port was Miyanoura on the north of the island), so we decided to get ourselves to the other side of the island today (Sunday), do the Jomon Cedar tree hike all day on Monday, and then come back to the north side of the island and do something else on Tuesday before our ferry ride. The island is actually small enough that you can get to the entrance of the Jomon Sugi hike from pretty much anywhere - we were actually a little out of the way on the South side.

The lady who opened up the info centre was pretty helpful as we considered our options for the 3 days (2 nights) we would be there. Our main problem was not what to do, but how to get ourselves around the place. The lodge that I booked has a homepage which suggests that a car is a must have for transport, since there are few buses and taxis are expensive.

The info lady made the point that it might be pretty tough to take a car to the Jomon Sugi hike, because the car park at the entrance is quite small and can be crowded, meaning you may have to park another 1km away (on top of the 11km hike), not to mention being completely knackered after the walk.

Ultimately we concurred, thinking it'd be a waste of money to hire the car and then hardly use it that day, so we decided to take the (also more environmentally friendly) option of the bus from the lodge to the hike.
(As it turned out, we didn't save much money if any by this, more on that tomorrow.)

So, we decided that we'd look to take a rent-a-car to our lodge today, use the bus to get between the lodger and the hike entrance on Monday, and come back to Miyanoura port on Tuesday via bus as well.

The information centre lady called in a rent-a-car man, who signed us up for 12 hours in a small light vehicle. This was only about 4,500 yen or so - much cheaper than rent-a-cars in Tokyo. We discussed how we should return the car, since we really wanted to use it to get ourselves to the other side of the island, he said that he'd come and pick it up that night. In that case, I thought, can he bring a rent-a-car back to the lodge on Tuesday morning so that we can get back to Miyanoura? This is where we got lucky - the rent-a-car man said why don't we just take the car to the lodge today (Sunday), leave it at our lodge on Monday, and then use it again on Tuesday - he'd only charge for 2 days instead of 3.


So that's what we did. Our rent-a-car cost us about 8,200 yen for the trip, plus the 150kms or so we did until Tuesday afternoon cost us about 1,500 yen in petrol.

All set with our wheels and tourist information, we scootered off clockwise towards the east of the island. Eventually we found a supermarket, and so picked up some essentials - champagne, snack biscuits and sandwiches or something for lunch, if I remember correctly.

We soon found a nice spot to park on the side of the road and head down to the ocean.

[will write the rest of this later, the rugby starts soon]

* * *
UPDATE [08/26] Time to continue with this!
(Not a bad game of Rugby by the way - 34-27 to the All Blacks)

So, as you can see from the picture above, we found a spot where we could get down to the beautiful North Pacific ocean and lots of rocks to go with it, and had our lunch (an early one) there, as I recall.

Hitting the road again, our next stop was one of Yakushima's famous waterfalls, Senpiro-no-taki (Google images). Besides the 60 metre waterfall, the massive rock face beside it is something in itself - quite a work of nature. Some other kind tourist took a photo of us.

As you can probably ascertain from the photo, it had clouded over and just started to rain a little as we made our way up the hill to the waterfall, but it was just a small shower. There was also a viewing platform near the car park looking out to sea:
As we came back down from the viewing platform towards the car park, a butterfly came to say hello:

Back at the information centre the helpful lady had told us about a nice cafe type place not far from the waterfall, and we quickly found it as we drove back through the forest down towards the coast. There we went for some "tankan" (citrus type fruit) juice. Very good it was indeed.

The cafe building itself was the real attraction, containing a whole heap of cedar tree based craft work - no photos of that to show though. Outside there was a garden beside the tiny car park with some hibiscus flowers in full bloom. There are heaps of hibiscus around the southern region, including Okinawa, apparently.

Hitting the road again, we went in search of more ocean and beach. The main road around the island was slightly inland on this south eastern part of the island, but there were lots of little narrow roads cutting off through farmland towards the ocean. We randomly selected one but after some minutes we decided that it didn't seem like it would to lead us to the water so we took in the mountain view instead, and a promotional camera shoot with the rent-a-car as well.

Another waterfall, Torooki-no-taki (Google images), was apparently not far from our lodge, so we put that next on our list, but had a struggle to find it. Apparently it is but one of two waterfalls in Japan that fall directly into the sea, so we were looking out for some kind of entrance on the left side of the road. Eventually we found that the way to get to it is by parking in a big souvenir shop on the right side of the road.

Really beautiful it was too. The Senpiro-no-taki is just a big ugly waterfall really, with a bit of a "wow" factor to it, but the Torooki-no-taki was much more scenic. The clock had rolled past 13:00 by the time we took the snap below:
Back to the souvenir shop we went, and had some more food. They were selling hot-dog style bread rolls dirt cheap, and I seem to remember downing some more tankan juice as well.

Next we stopped off at our lodge and said hello to the staff (a really nice guy, originally from Chiba). We had hoped to take a shower, having not had the chance on the overnight ferry, but we arrived before check-in so that was a no go. But he gave us some more tips on other nice stuff to see for the rest of the afternoon - specifically another waterfall, Ooko-no-taki (even more Google images). Apparently here there was also a nice not so visited beach as well, so off we set again.

It wasn't long before the blue ocean distracted us again though, and we found ourselves driving off down another road on the off chance that it might lead us to the ocean. Again, it didn't, but we found some nice views of the ocean near a dairy farm. We found a proper tourist viewpoint not too much further along the main road, past this little side street, which had pretty much the same view.

Eventually we arrived at our real destination, and weren't disappointed. Lots of negative eons to be absorbed here, as you could get right up close to this waterfall - all 88 metres of it (this spot turned up on Tokyo TV a few mornings ago, so it seems quite famous).

Next it was a short 5 minute or so stroll down to the beach, where one of us had a bit of a play about, skimming stones etc. There was lots of hot sand here this time, unlike the previous place, but there were still lots of little stones to bash your feet as the waves broke on the shoreline.

Kind of makes you want to go to the beach all over again, doesn't it.

Anyway, we sure had gotten about the place on this, our second day of summer vacation, and so headed on back to the lodge for that long awaited shower and some dinner.

The lodge here on Yakushima was probably the best dinner setting of the whole trip. Our room was in a detached building of three rooms, and the people who run the lodge have a dinner area in their main building, where the guests have their feed (this was a "minshuku", which is a kind of private home that provides rooms and food, as opposed to a stiff hotel). However they have a nice big veranda outside as well, so we opted to have dinner outside. All sorts of tasties on the menu, including some of that flying fish that we had seen on the ferry before arriving in the morning.

Coming to the end of Day 2, we checked out the bus schedule for our Day 3 activity - the 22km hike to the Jomon Sugi - with the lodge staff, and found that we were going to have to get a 5:20am (or thereabouts) bus to make it to the mountain entrance. Only one bus available too, so no oversleeping or getting lost would be tolerated. We took a stroll to the bus stop that evening under the starlit skies, to make sure we'd be able to find it in the darkness when we set out the next morning.

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Ho David,

Seems you had a memorable trip. Good on ya! I've never even been to Nippon, myself.

Sorry to be OT, but have you seen this yet? Nothing extraordinary, but you get the distinct impression that the Guardian reporter thinks there is but one species of whale. There is no mention of the fact that Norway only hunts the minke, and how about this gem:

"The Scandinavian country resumed commercial whaling in 1993, despite an international moratorium put in place in 1986 to protect the species from extinction."

Pretty damn depressing. The Guardian is supposed to be my favorite rag in English.
No worries Sirocco :-)

An acquaintence of mine told me about the year's harvest hitting around 520 whales or so IIRC. This is not too different to the take from previous years, and apparently no whales were taken from the Jan Mayen area where the quota was 443, as I rememeber.

The weather was also not so good apparently.

Of course, facts don't ever stop the anti-whaling brigade from grabbing a nice headline :-)

Another typically repeated blurb of nonsense from the article is the claim that whale meat ends up on the market, "despite" the hunts being for scientific purposes. Such statements sound like regurgitated Greenpeace propaganda - sounds like an overworked and underpaid journalist to me :-)

The article also talks about how "Many of these nations, such as Mongolia, Mali or Belize," with no coastline of history of whalign that vote with Japan - no mention of the 7 landlocked European nations who vote against whaling, nor the fact that Belize voted against the pro-sustainable use nations on every matter at IWC 58. Very sloppy indeed.

I actually have several clumps of things I want to write about, but firstly I want to finish my write-up of my summer holiday before I forget all the details.

Nice to hear from you :-)
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