Saturday, December 29, 2012

Finding the Trail Head

There's plenty of human-erected treasures to search for on Yakushima:

Seven statues of the Fortune God. . . .Countless small shrines to Ebisu. . . .Village plaques. . . .Trail heads.

Yeh, trail heads.

I mentioned before on my facebook page that I'd like to visit all the mountain-peak shrines in Yakushima. Most of these are on the lower Exterior Mountains and require only a two to three hour hike from the trail head.

Finding the trail heads, however, is the real challenge. Beyond the major routes in books and tourist maps (i.e. the regularly-maintained trails to places like Mt. Miyanoura and Jomon Sugi, places that require nothing more than physical preparation), it's not obvious how many of these old trails are still in use, where they begin, and if whether or not they've just disappeared into the brush. To make matters ten times more complicated, it turns out even the latest maps of Yakushima have some number of phantom back-roads. And the roads that do exist may be half-washed away or blocked by gates for various reasons.

Through a mix of GPS, asking for directions, and trial and error, any day you find a new, legitimate trail head is a good day. Today was one of those days, and that's why I leave you with a picture of a (genuine, Yakushima) cow.

This is not the way to the trail head.

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