Visiting Yakushima: The home of the ancient Yakusugi Cedar trees

Visiting Yakushima: The home of the ancient Yakusugi Cedar trees

By Mimi Ahern-Briggs (Adelaide Team Member)

In early June, my partner and I were discussing places to visit whilst we travelled throughout Japan. Due to the sheer amount of choice of beautiful destinations, I jokingly suggested we should close our eyes and randomly select a place on the map. That place was Yakushima. Once we caught the first glimpse of photos, we were intrigued.

Fast forward to a month later and we were on a small ferry entering this wild subtropical island south of Japan’s Kyushu. As we pulled into the quaint Miyanoura port, my eyes were fixed on the overwhelming mountainous landscape and the mossy, green forests that populated the whole island. The island looked untouched by humankind and I instantly felt calm and at home.

This precious island reminded me of the sheer beauty the Earth can produce when it is left to flourish and simply exist. Our days in Yakushima consisted of swimming in pristine river pools filled with the purest drinking water, which travelled down from the tall peaks of the granite cliffs. Multiple long hikes were tackled throughout the captivating prehistoric cedar forests, home to some of the most ancient trees in Japan known as the yakusugi trees, which are thousands of years old.  We bathed in the natural yudomari onsen located directly on the beach's shore, or simply gazed at the breathtaking mountains and waterfalls from the balcony of our cosy, Japanese-style accommodation.

That I have had the honour to experience a place as beautiful and wild as Yakushima still excites me: a place where nature and plants are free to show their  innate abilities; the diverse ecosystems that all work in harmony together to create one of the most naturalistic and UNESCO protected places on this planet; the mystical aura this island bleeds through its trees and moss; the wild monkey and deer that out-populate humans playing around on the spindly roads… I have never felt more inspired.

When I heard Sal had managed to obtain some pure yakusugi oil to create a sacred perfume, I was in awe. I didn’t think it would be possible to experience or describe the beautiful smells of the Yakushima cedar forests until I inevitably returned. However, now I can take a little bit of it with me wherever I go to bring me back and ground me to that feeling of utter peace and gratitude.  

 Photos: Mimi Ahern-Briggs