> Yakushima


This trip was part of the SmapStation! TV show I used to work for in Tokyo. Two other foreign 'regulars' on the show, Jeremy and Pete, and I accompanied Funakoshi Eiichiro- a star of suspense thrillers in the 1980s we were told, although I have never seen any of his movies- to Yakushima. Yakushima is a small island off the tip of southern Kyushu and is famed for being one of Japan's UNESCO nature preservation sites. The island is organized into zones based on the amount of human encroachment and the strictness of environmental regulations. On a hot, wet day in late July 2003 we three foreigners, the washed up Japanese star, our guide, a few sakura tourists, and about 30 crew members lugging huge heavy equipment made the several hour trek to the Jomon-sugi, a monstrously huge cedar said to date back to Jomon (archaeic) Japan. Most of the lower reaches of the hills had been extensively logged, but as we made it deeper into the mountains, the trees got bigger, the canopy denser, and the ground mossier. This forest was the model for Miyazaki's animated film Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke) and our guide said that Miyazaki had camped in the area for 3 months researching and making sketches of the forest. Hope you enjoy the pics!