Thursday, December 11, 2014

Top Eleven Misconceptions about Yakushima

Top Ten Eleven Misconceptions about Yakushima.
Deciding to outdo everyone on the top-ten bandwagon, I've put together the first eleven misconceptions about Yakushima to pop into my head this morning.

11. It rains all day everyday.
Ukigumo, the movie
Of course not! Hey, we get snow, too!

There's a famous saying that, In Yakushima, it rains 35 days a month, which was supposedly penned by Fumiko Hayashi. In fact, when she was researching for her 1950s romance novel, Ukigumo, Hayashi visited Yakushima for only a few days. Apparently, it was a rainy, cold visit. But she's not the one to come up with this phrase! This was something people who lived on the island already said.

In truth, the weather is quite changeable. Especially during the monsoon, there can be days of rain, but drive around the island, and you're likely to find a patch of sun. While some parts of the interior are known for getting nearly 10 meters of rain in a year, some coastal areas see about the same amount of annual rain as Kyushu.

Not a care in the world. . .
10. The animals are friendly because people feed them.

Please, don't feed the animals!

There are definitely a few individuals that ask for handouts, but most of thewild animals here do not know the taste of human food, and we'd like to keep it that way. The reason they don't run at the sight of people is that they have no natural predators and are pretty used to seeing people. This is especially true in popular hiking areas away from the lower forests where they are hunted.

9. Logging stopped when Jomon Sugi was discovered.
Points for positive thinking, but wrong on several accounts:

First, people in the Edo period knew about Jomon Sugi. They even logged its neighbors. And then Jomon Sugi was relegated to the status of legend until 1966 when it was rediscovered.

Replanted sugi forests
must be thinned.
Until around that time, the idea of hiking for recreation didn't exist, but the 1970's were a decade strewn with changes in ideology. Environmentalism. . . Preservation of traditions such as mountain pilgrimages. . . . Even so, logging was the means of life for many of Yakushima's residents, and it continued through the decade. It took the persistent voices of youth returning home from the mainland and leading officials by the hand into the forest, as well as a big typhoon that washed out an area cleared by logging, devastating the town below, before logging came to an end.

That said, certain kinds of logging still continue in Yakushima, which leads me to. . .

8. There is no logging on Yakushima.