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Located in the interior of Yaku Island, at the meeting-point of the palaearctic and oriental biotic regions, Yakushima exhibits a rich flora, with some 1,900 species and subspecies, including ancient specimens of the sugi (Japanese cedar). It also contains a remnant of a warm-temperate ancient forest that is unique in this region.
Yaku-shima Island, lying on the sea to the south of Sata-misaki Point in the southern part of Kagoshima, is, because of its abundant nature, designated as a world heritage natural property, together with Shirakami-sanchi in Aomori.
Seventy-five percent of the whole area of the island is mountainous. With Mt. Miyano-ura-dake, the tallest in Kyushu, in the middle surrounded by lots of mountains more than 1,500 meters high, the island is also called the Alps on the ocean.
Going up from around the coast to the mountaintop, with the height increases, the climate changes from that of a subtropical zone to that of a sub-arctic zone, and the plant systems change in the same way, as if nature in the Japanese Archipelago were condensed.
| With much rainfall throughout the year, the island
is covered with deep green forests, including more than 1,000-year-old Yaku
cedars, and produces a mysterious atmosphere.
There are lots of points worthy of note, such as Shiratani-unsui-kyo Gorge with beautiful gorges and primeval forests, Yaku Cedar Land with magnificent woods, and Inaka-hama Beach with turtles coming for laying their eggs.
Yaku-shima-Goshinzan-matsuri Festival, held at the stage of the Miyano-ura-gawa River, is particular to the land with its mountain god cult. It is a joint summer festival of a solemn shrine ritual and an enjoyable event in which even tourists can take part. You should not miss seeing the fantastic ceremony of building a fire on a turret constructed in the middle of the river.
Sources and links:
Other World Heritage Sites in Japan (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section Japan for further information about the individual properties.
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Revised 21 jul 2006