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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 4

Finally it's time for Day 4 - some changes have been being made at Blogger, resulting in broken photo uploads, which delayed me from uploading all of the pictures from Day 3. It's done now though, as well as all the pictures from this, our final day on Yakushima. Read on!

After our big day on Monday, we took things a little easier on Tuesday, having breakfast of some description at the lodge... I think... I actually don't remember what we had to eat.

But anyway, we also took the opportunity to take some photos of Mt. Mocchomu in the background. The young inn manager had been telling us the previous night of how the mountain protects them against the natural elements quite well. Apparently on the north side of the island at Miya-no-ura, it snows in winter, but not so down here on the south with the protection of the mountain.
The building you see here wasn't the one where we stayed. That is the building to the rear-most of the lodge complex, we stayed in the building closest to the entrance. All together I suppose there were probably 4 or 5 buildings, of differing size.

Our plan for today was to see some more of Yakushima before catching our Toppy ferry back to Ibusuki on the Kyushu mainland at 16:30.

Another famous attraction there on Yakushima is "Shiratani-unsuikyo". In Japanese, something like a "white valley cloud water ravine", or something like that. A little like "land of the long white cloud". Anyway, this place was essentially a whole load more wonderful nature :-)

Shiratani-unsuikyo was easily accessible from Miya-no-ura, which was the port where we had arrived on Day 2, and from which we would depart later in the afternoon today.

We gunned our speedy rent-a-car, which was of course still waiting for us at the lodge where we parked it on the evening of Day 2, back to the north side of the island. Eventually we found the road that would take us up the hill to the walk route, and took some mental notes about gas stations along the way (we needed to fill the tank back up when we dropped off the car later). As we arrived near the walk entrance, some guys were there directing the parking traffic. We had our car allocated a spot just off the road under the shelter of a tree. From there it was just a short walk to the park entrance, and we began our walk by around 11 am.

This walk was generally similar to the Jomon Sugi climb, although perhaps a little easier, and the forest itself seemed a little less dense here.

As per the photo, there were various spots to take in some negative ions along the way.

According to the guide pamphlets that we got here, there was a choice in routes, so it was a good place to go if you need to fit something in for a few hours. There was a 5 hour walk, but we opted for a shorter 3 hour version which didn't go so far up the ravine. This worked out nicely for us, as we had seats on the ferry booked later in the afternoon.

As we had the previous day, we again came across lots of Yakushima wildlife. The picture to the left has a few monkeys playing around in the rocks.

Again I think we saw more deer here as well.

The walk route that we picked out was a route that would take us to a scene that was apparently the inspiration for the "Mononoke-hime" animated movie that was released in Japan several years ago. It was a story based around on Japanese mythology set maybe 800 or so years ago. In these times, the mountains were the domain of the gods, while the flat low lying areas were places where people were free to dwell. However, natural imbalances were coming about due to humans encroaching on the domain of the gods by cutting down trees, and so forth. I completely forget the whole story though, although I actually have a video of it so I really must watch it again sometime.

But anyway, we walked up the ravine, and back down again. I'm going to let the pictures do the talking here:

Wow indeed! Really really beautiful scenary is all I can say, and Kana's digital camera provided us with some great photos - a few of them will make nice wallpaper backgrounds for this old laptop.

Eventually we reached the "Mononoke-hime" spot, where we would turn around and go back down. We met another couple who were just doing their first walk here today. They were wondering about how it compared with the Jomon Sugi climb. Of course, both attractions had their own merits and it was really worth going to see both of them if you have the time (and energy!) to do so.

After a couple of hours in the bush we walked back down the hill, climbing over massive rock faces etc, and exited the walk area and returned to the car.

Shortly after take-off, we spotted a small water fountain on the side of the road. This water is a little bit special - it's water of longevity, and being a little thirsty we had a bottle then and there, and took another for the road.

We drove back down the hill (taking some pictures where there was a nice vantage point of the ocean) and returned to the tourist complex we had been to early on Day 2 to have some lunch.

After tanking the car up with gas, we dropped the car off at the ferry carpark as instructed, and boarded our ferry back to Kyushu, but not before buying some more tasty tankan juice at the souvenir shop there.

The ferry ride back to Kyushu was again pretty smooth, although we seemed to be shielded from higher seas by Tanegashima to the East, where we made a short stop before continuing on to Ibusuki.

We arrived there shortly after 18:00, and the Toppy staff had kindly arranged for a taxi to meet us at the port. We had the driver take us to the Phoenix Hotel, where I had booked us in for a night's stay, which included a ticket to a sand-steam bath, which is the main attraction in Ibusuki. Apparently in Ibusuki there are hot springs that warm the waters and the sand on the beach, so instead of taking a hot bath of water you get buried into the sand and have a kind of sauna that way.

The taxi driver was a nice talkative old fellow with a strong local accent, and he tried to offer his transportation services to us for the next day, but we'd already decided to spend it back in Kagoshima.

We checked in, and took a stroll around the hotel grounds (it was a resort style kind of place), enjoyed the nice moon view, before heading back for dinner at 19:30.

By around 21:00 we were done with dinner and made our way to the sand bath, which was connected to the hotel itself. After changing into some sand bathing robes, Kana and I were buried in the sand alongside each other, where we steamed away for several minutes. This sand bath was actually attached to the resort hotel, where as I believe that you can also have a more authentic hot sand bath on the beach, but then it was nice to have a bath under controlled temperatures.

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