26 March 2017

Glorious Yakushima!

The rain clears just as I arrive. Road still damp!

A few weeks back, in February, I had the pleasure of a long cycling weekend in Yakushima, visiting Positivista Graham and his wife Shoko at their guesthouse, Cafe and Cottage Davis. A beautiful environment, delicious food, good weather and a relaxing time. Shoko's cooking is one of the highlights of the trip, and we were treated like royalty. 

I highly recommend this as a trip for other cyclists, and just people who want to get away from Tokyo and enjoy the "slow life" for a few days, Japanese style in a beautiful environment.

On the road from Miyanoura to Anbo after the Hillclimb

Looking up the Anbogawa (Anbo River) from Anbo

Further upstream from a high bridge over the Anbogawa
I got to Yakushima via a Skymark flight from Tokyo (Haneda) to Kagoshima, then a high speed (hydrofoil) ferry of just over 2 hours from a ferry terminal in downtown Kagoshima. Skymark is very inexpensive, if booked in advance. There also are flights for the connection from Kagoshima to Yakushima -- with the airport just north of Anbo, the nearest ferry port to the Cottage. But apparently these flights (turboprop) do not take bicycles as oversized luggage -- check ahead before booking -- so you should either take the hydrofoil, or ship your bike separately (via Yamato takkyubin, for example--painless within Japan).
The coastline just below Cottage Davis

Delicious breakfasts ... the first course here.

David M. and I joined the Yakushima Eco-Cycling hill climb event on Saturday. As hill climbs go, it was short (under 8kms) and not so steep. The next day, we rode around the island, not as part of the "official" Eco-Cycling ride, but on a different, later schedule, and starting from Cottage Davis.  We caught the "official" ride on the west side of the island and could see some people from the hill climb. We left the main route and climbed, and climbed, to take a forest road "rindo" along the SW corner of the island. David M. suggested they really could hold the hill climb on this rindo.  It was not much of an exaggeration.
After a successful hill climb, on the way down.
Is that a wee bit of left over snow on the north face at the mountaintop?

Mavic support car ... overkill for an event with fewer than 100 participants! But cool anyway.
I am told that it rains a lot in Yakushima. And why not -- it has pretty much the same weather as Kagoshima area of Kyushu, except more exposed to the ocean. But I arrived just after a rain shower stopped, and enjoyed sunshine my entire visit. So I would need to say that the weather was perfect and we had a wonderful trip. Some of you may have seen some of these photos on Facebook, but for others ...
Rindo high along the South coast of the island
Beautiful banyan tree on the WSW side of the island
I rest under a banyan tree.

The west side of Yakushima - looking south from the main wilderness area of the coast.
A beach on the North side where sea turtles nest -- come on onshore in March usually
The north side of the island.
We could see several nearby islands, two with white smoke/steam emerging from volcanos!
Yakushima, it seems, has not been volcanically active at all in modern times.
Probably the #1 destination for Yakushima visitors is to climb up to one of the highest points in the center of the island to see the "Jomon-sugi", a fur tree that is thousands of years old. You pretty much need to reserve a day for this trip, with a start early in the morning. You cannot get there by bicycle. We did not have a full day available to visit the "Jomon-sugi" this time, and had plenty of fun with the banyan trees and other younger sugi we did see in the forests, ... but what a perfect excuse for a return trip, as if one were needed!
The fur tree forests of Yakushima. Completely different than the post-war new growth near Tokyo!
(for one thing - I did not feel any allergies from these.)

1 comment:

Manfred von Holstein said...

Yakushima is definitely a great place to visit. I would like to go back with a bike. Hiking is almost a must - otherwise hard to see all those really impressive very old fir trees.

The Jomon Sugi hike is supposedly an eight hour round trip from the trail head which is reachable only by bus (not private car). But a fast hiker would do it in half of this time. I built it into a full loop that include Miyanoura-dake, the highest peak, taking me a full 12 hours for the almost 40km.

Most of the distance to the Jomon Sugi is on a disused railway track and very easy to walk. In fact, I think this should be rideable on a fatbike! Wonder how the hikers and their many guides would react...