Photographer Peter Skov hikes up to the snow-capped summit of Mt. Miyanoura (1,936 meters), the highest peak in Yaksuhima—and even Kyushu—enjoying magnificent nature along the way. He also meets with people who are behind protecting the island's precious habitat. As Peter treks through deep snow, and primeval forest, he feels the magic of Yakushima.
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There are also ferry services from Kagoshima Port to Miyanoura Port. It takes two hours by high-speed jet foil and four hours by regular ferry.
Traveler: Peter Scov > More Info
Occupation:English teacher / photographer / writer
Length of residence in Japan:15 years
Reason of coming to Japan:To learn about the Japanese approach to landscape and nature photography
During my initial visit to Yakushima in the summer of 2013, I was introduced to many of the island's remarkable natural wonders. However, the photo books of Yakushima in the museum told me there was so much more, especially in winter. Inspired by the icy mountain scenes of this southern island, I wanted to return to climb Mt. Miyanoura in its winter glory. There were also some famous sights that I had missed, such as the Shiratani Unsui Valley and Senpiro Falls.
I knew not to expect the same unusually sunny weather as the last time, but I could not have anticipated that it was going to work out so perfectly. It was as though the weather was part of my schedule, bringing rain to the lush forests before I arrived but stopping once I got there, and preparing the mountaintops with thick frost and snow prior to my ascent but having the clouds clear away as I approached the summit. Seeing the Yakusugi in this frosty and mysterious winter world was spellbinding. Other trees such as the himeshara, a type of camillia, looked even more beautiful as their red trunks stood out from the white landscape and muted green of frozen rhododendron leaves. The ancient Jomon Sugi looked as regal and magnificent as ever.
Just traveling on my own would have brought me some wonderful experiences. However, the people I met on the island gave me an in depth human perspective of the goings on of Yakushima. Mr. Koga guided me through the frozen landscape of the mountains. Mr. Tezuka introduced me to the worrying plight of the Yakushima white pine. And it was great to see Mr. Kikuchi again, who had guided me up the mountains on my previous journey. He was as before a fount of facts about the nature of Yakushima. How many things I would have missed if not for his sharp eye and keen knowledge.
I had the great privilege to enjoy delicious food, breathtaking scenery, and even a dip in a seaside onsen hot spring. And thanks to the island's unique climate, I experienced autumn on the northern part, winter in the mountains, and spring in the southern reaches. By the time I had to leave I felt that I had never enjoyed a more fulfilling trip in my life. Many thanks to all the special people who contributed to my wonderful winter stay on Yakushima!