On the last day of my visit to Yakushima I attended a trekking tour to the forest of Shiratani-Unsuikyo. Most often associated with the origin of the inspiration for Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, the forest is a magnificent castle of nature full of tress, rocks, rivers, and moss.
The nature elements form an incredible atmosphere, and even the not-so-easy 2 hour uphill climb felt pretty good. The nature and scenery trump the effort.
Our guide was wonderful in terms of being able to navigate and introduce the significant parts of the forest. Here are some of the highlights from the forest walk.
This fallen tree trunk looks like some animal – possibly an elephant?
This little guy looks like the mid-sized creature in Totoro.
As we walked into the forest of Princess Mononoke, the spirit of the forest greeted us!
Miyazaki got his inspiration of the “Okkotonushi” (the giant god of boars in Mononoke) from this fallen tree trunk. Look carefully at it, and you will see the head of the creature.
This is the rock cave that Sun and Moro live in the movie. The cave is naturally made.
And this is the view which Ashitaka saw from the cave of Sun and Moro. This is the highest point in which the tour marks its half-way point. The rock I was standing on is called “Taiko-iwa” which means “drum rock” because of the sound it makes when one hits it at certain spots (you guessed right – it sounds like a drum).
This resembles the “Oumu” (the giant bug) in Naussica of the Valley of the Wind. Our guide told us that Miyazaki got his inspiration of the dead “Oumu” becoming the seed for the venomous forest in Naussica, but we don’t know for sure.
This is another photo point, where you can walk between the roots of the Cedar tree.
A photo of new trees growing from fallen trees. Cycle of nature and life is amazing in this forest. So beautiful.
On our way down, we were fortunate to spot a Monkey taking a walk in the woods.
The forest of Yakushima is beautiful. If you ever have a chance to visit Japan, do consider extending your trip to this island. You will see nature and scenery that you cannot see elsewhere in the country nor anywhere in the world.