How to visit Yakushima without a guide Day 3 – Jomon Sugi trail
Jomon Sugi trail
- Terrain: Woodland,forest, deserted railway track
- Duration:7 hours
- Difficulty: medium
Today we planned the big hike to Jyomon-Sugi cedar, a (maybe)7500 year-old cedar tree in the middle of the island. The hike is a 4-5 hours trek along a deserted railway to reach Jyomon–Sugi and backtrack to the starting point. As daylight ends so early, an early morning start is a must. In fact the latest shuttle bus leaving from the car park at Yakusugi Museum is 5:40am at this time of the year.
Despite the first night’s excitement and a late dinner, we managed to get up in time and got the 5:20am shuttle bus. Apparently in winter months one can drive straight to Arakawa starting point and skip the 1,380 Yen/pp bus tickets. With additional 1,000 Yen/pp voluntary donations, hiking here is really not cheap. The bus was packed with enthusiastic hikers with hiking poles, head touches, rain gear and yummy lunch boxes(which we jealously discovered later at resting point) . After 35mins winding mountain road, we arrived at Arakawa starting point.
The first stretch of the route is completely in darkness on the rail track. We were quite glad that both our head touches survived the trip till now. The route is quite easy – following the rail track. After one hour we started to see pink colour appearing at the horizon. A glimpse of the sunrise welcomed us around 7am.
After two hours the weather turned rainy and the scenery became a bit repetitive. We started to miss the lively moss land in Shiratani. There was an option to continue from end of Shiratani track and connect to Jyomon-sugi track. It would be an 11-hour long hike and everyone we talked to advised us against it, due to lack of daylight hours at this time of the year. This would be a much more interesting route to do in summer!
After 3-4 hours we saw the end of the railway track and continued into an uphill woodland path. This part of the trail has many wooden platforms to bridge the uneven ground, which could also be used as a resting area. Such a brilliant idea! This part of the trail became more interesting with ancient cedar trees and tree holes, including a ‘Love’ tree hole that looked like a heart viewing from below.
We reached Jyomon-Sugi around 11am. It is an impressive tree, proudly standing on a high ground. It is hard to imagine that this tree has survived most of our written history and will continue to see the world pass by.
On the way back to the woodland it rained heavier. We quickly finished our lunch bento boxes on one of the wooden platform and headed back to the rail track. We got back to our starting point at 14:30pm and caught the 15pm shuttle bus back to the car park.