In December of 1993, Yakushima was the first site in Japan to be recognized as a World Heritage Site. Today, 21% of the island is considered to be World Heritage territory and 96% of that area is made up of natural forest. There are several difficult hiking routes through the World Heritage territory. In order to gain World Heritage recognition, a site has to contain “remarkable value” in terms of aesthetic, ecological, and scientific perspectives. Yakushima itself contains several endemic and endangered species of plants and animals. The islands Yaku-sugi trees are huge, natural cedars that are unique to the island. There are several paths with varying lengths and difficulty level, some as short as 30 minutes for non-hikers that just want to get a glimpse of the forest. All trails will take you through the forest to get a view of these trees. On your way, you will undoubtedly spot several of the island’s Yakusaru (endemic monkeys) and hopefully a few Yakushika (endemic deer).
About the Author: Shannon Tomioka
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