Golden Week Travels

The week after next is Golden Week here in Japan and constitutes a series of national holidays in close proximity to each other. For many, this is the longest vacation period of the year and a very popular time to travel.

Last year, I spent two weeks backpacking Vietnam from south to north solo. This year I am spending 5 days hiking and camping on Yakushima, an island off the southern coast of Kyushu. After that, I am going to a “hippy festival” called Niji no Misaki Matsuri on the side of Mt. Aso and camp out some more.

Yakushima was one of Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 and contains pristine sub-tropical giant cedar (yaku-sugi) tree forests. The oldest of these is Jomon-sugi with a girth of 28 meters (first pic below). It is estimated by some to be 7,200 years old. If you are a Creationist, that tree is older than the earth.

The weather is quite fickle and known for the constant rain. The high peaks are snow-capped and the coast is sub-tropical with some great outside onsen (rotemburo) that you can only use at certain times of the day when the tide is just right.

My hike will take three days and cross from south to north over the Kyushu region’s highest peak, Mt. Miyanoura at 1935 meters. The natural scenery, waterfalls, giant trees, and roaming monkeys make this one of the most beautiful places on earth and I am really excited to see it.

I am using my last paid time of the year for this trip! I’ll have to return home for one day of work on Friday, May 2nd, but then I’m right back out to Aso-san in Kumamoto for 5 days. Every year, the little known music festival is held that attracts the more eccentric of Japanese and their dogs.

This should be a relaxing and laid back few days mingling with the crowds and dancing like you just don’t care.

The above shots are courtesy of flickr users ippei + janine, Mil, and Pokeron Polaroid by ippei + janine too.

I’d also like to point out that in this picture of the festival there is a man without his pants acting nonchalant.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Marilyn Terrell on 04.27.08 at 12:08 PM

Wow, from mossy forests to subtropical rotemburo to high mountains to roaming monkeys to music-loving hippies: sounds like a great trip! Hope you take pictures!

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