An enormous Japanese cedar tree that is older than the nation of japan itself, Jomon Sugi is a remarkable natural wonder found on Yakushima Island. This ancient cedar tree is thought to be anywhere between 2,000 and 7,200 years old, making it one of the oldest living trees in the world. Its age and significance have earned it a place as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Yakushima Island, located off the coast of Kyushu in southern Japan, is known for its pristine natural beauty and rich biodiversity. The island is covered in dense forests, and Jomon Sugi is one of the most iconic and revered trees in this ancient landscape.
The name “Jomon Sugi” is a reference to the Jomon period of Japanese prehistory, which lasted from around 8000 B.C. to 300 B.C. This period is characterized by the use of pottery and a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The tree itself stands at an impressive height of 25.3 meters and has a circumference of 16.4 meters.
The age of Jomon Sugi has been determined through dendrochronology, a scientific method of dating tree rings. Japanese scientists have conducted studies on the branches of the tree, and their findings indicate that Jomon Sugi is at least 2,000 years old. However, some predictions suggest that the tree could be as old as 7,000 years.
The discovery of Jomon Sugi in 1966 sparked efforts to protect the forests of Yakushima. The importance of this ancient tree and the surrounding ecosystem led to the island’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. Today, access to Jomon Sugi is restricted to an observation deck built 15 meters away from the tree’s base. This platform ensures that the roots of the tree are protected from damage caused by the increased number of visitors following the World Heritage Site status.
Reaching Jomon Sugi is no easy feat. The hike to the tree takes approximately 10 hours, and visitors are advised to start early in the morning to ensure they return before sunset. The trail to Jomon Sugi begins at the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine and follows the Arakawa Trail, which starts at the Arakawa trailhead. To access the trailhead, visitors can take a 30-minute bus ride from the town of Anbo. From March to November, private cars are not allowed on the access road to the trailhead, so the best way to reach the area is by taking a shuttle bus from the Yakusugi Museum.
Along the trail to Jomon Sugi, there are several other famous trees worth noting. One of these is Meoto Sugi, a pair of trees that resemble a husband and wife embracing. This unique formation has become a symbol of love and devotion. Another notable tree is Daio Sugi, also known as the Great King Cedar. This massive cedar tree is one of the largest on the island and is truly awe-inspiring in its size and grandeur. Additionally, there is Wilson’s Stump, named after the English botanist Ernest Henry Wilson. This stump is the remains of a giant cedar that was felled in the 1580s. Wilson’s photographs of the stump, dating back to the early 20th century, were recently discovered in the Harvard University archives.
Visiting Jomon Sugi and exploring the forests of Yakushima offers a unique opportunity to witness the immense power and beauty of nature. The ancient cedar trees that inhabit this island have stood the test of time and serve as a reminder of the long and rich history of Japan. Walking through these prehistoric forests, visitors can’t help but feel a sense of awe and reverence for the natural world.
As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Yakushima Island and Jomon Sugi attract visitors from around the world who are eager to experience the island’s unparalleled beauty. The protection and preservation of this unique ecosystem are of utmost importance, and visitors are encouraged to follow the guidelines set forth by the authorities to ensure the continued survival of these ancient trees.
In conclusion, Jomon Sugi is a testament to the resilience and endurance of nature. This enormous Japanese cedar tree stands as a living testament to the passage of time and the rich history of Japan. Its age and significance have earned it a place as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and visiting Yakushima Island to witness this ancient wonder is an experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Address And Maps Location:
Yakushima Island, Kagoshima-ken