Ashitaka by huitse Games hiking in Japan Port Miyanoura Princess Mononoke Senpiro-no-Taki and Ohko-no-taki Senvus Village Shiratani Unsuikyo Studio Ghibli travel travel to Japan volunteer in Japan YAKUSHIMA ISLAND Yudomari Onsen

Gain an Insider’s View of Yakushima through Volunteering in Japan

yaku_01

Yakul dashing by means of a lush historic forest with Ashitaka on his again. Kodamas watch surreptitiously from mossy rocks as Moro approaches, with San, the Princess Mononoke, driving tall and able to shield her forest. These pictures got here simply to thoughts as my ferry, Yaku 2, pulled into Port Miyanoura one misty morning.

I’d been dreaming of visiting Yakushima and strolling in Yakul’s and Moro’s footsteps ever since I came upon that Yakushima had been a key inspiration for Princess Mononoke, considered one of Studio Ghibli’s greatest and one which sends a robust message about environmental safety. So when I discovered a volunteering alternative in Yakushima on Workaway, it was a no brainer that I enroll instantly.

yaku_01

Writer’s photograph

I’m very grateful to my host for accepting me though I had solely a few week. But, in that brief time, I had probably the most fantastic expertise in Japan, being so near the group, tradition and nature.

Volunteering at Senvus Village and Ohzora Excessive Faculty

yaku_02

yaku_02

Writer’s photograph

They are saying it rains 35 days a month in Yakushima. Certainly, it was raining closely by the point I arrived on the pick-up level that was pre-arranged with my host, Harada-san. The volunteer program was his brainchild and he solely had a few different volunteers earlier than us.

My fellow volunteers this time got here from Poland, Switzerland and China. He introduced us to Senvus Village first, and launched us to the scent cafe and museum at Senvus Home, in addition to the natural backyard and farm the place most of our duties can be based mostly.

He then introduced us to Ohzora Excessive Faculty(*Japanese Solely), the place we might work together with college students from all throughout Japan who come right here for a one-week bootcamp earlier than their commencement.

We might additionally keep on the academics’ dormitory right here throughout our volunteering interval. Because the volunteering program was simply getting began, we had a extra fluid schedule. As we speak, this system is much more enriching for volunteers with a well-designed program for volunteer interplay with highschool college students and actions at Senvus Village.

On sunny days, the 4 of us would start our days on the verandah of Senvus Home overlooking the backyard and past, with espresso, snacks and typically ice cream. The cafe wasn’t receiving visitors but, so the cleansing was straightforward and shortly completed. As all of us spoke overseas languages, we might spend a few hours within the morning translating a Yakushima promotional video into our native languages – Polish, German, Malay and Chinese language – particularly when it rains … once more.

yaku_3

yaku_3

Writer’s photograph

We might make use of the kitchen on the café or on the employees quarters to organize lunch. Two of the feminine employees, Megumi-san and Kazu-san, would information us within the preparation of Japanese meals like ramen, chirashi sushi and onigiri, in addition to sweets like kakara dango. Merely heavenly!

We might additionally make juice from tankan and mandarin oranges picked straight from the farm, and make tea with peppermint and different leaves from the scent (herb) backyard. It merely doesn’t get any brisker than this – they have been probably the most scrumptious drinks I ever had.

Image-from-iOS-77

Image-from-iOS-77

Writer’s photograph

We might be a part of the highschool college students at Ohzora’s canteen for dinner. Throughout this time, we might attempt to work together with them in English, as this system was meant to assist Japanese scholar turn into extra assured talking in English with foreigners. The girls and boys have been very shy initially, and we didn’t handle to speak a lot to them for the primary two days.

However after we had some fieldwork collectively, they turned extra snug with us on the dinner desk and we might adjourn to a recreation of basketball after that. It was actually enjoyable to share our experiences with one another, albeit in our restricted Japanese and English. This type of interplay is certainly beneficial, particularly for these of us who need to enhance our nihongo!

A lesson in sustainability on the natural farm and paddy fields

yaku_09

yaku_09

Writer’s photograph

Outside classes have been an necessary a part of the scholars’ time in Yakushima. We had the prospect to work with them within the paddy fields, tilling the soil in mud as much as our shins, to organize for the upcoming planting season. It was enjoyable squealing with the youngsters as our ft sank into the smooth soil – for many of us, this was our first expertise working in a paddy area.

Subsequent to the sector was an enormous water mill, measuring eight meters in diameter, that was created by grasp water mill craftsman Hidehiro Nostril for threshing, rice sprucing and flour milling.

yaku_10

yaku_10

Writer’s photograph

We have been fortunate to have a “candy potato professor” visiting from a college in Kagoshima throughout our keep. He taught us the fitting approach to plant and farm, and labored with us for a couple of hours within the subject.

yaku_11

yaku_11

Writer’s photograph

I’m impressed at how farming is so necessary and revered right here that they’ve professors who dedicate their careers to learning candy potatoes. Come to think about it, that’s the best way it should be, isn’t it? As a result of we’re rising meals!

yaku_12

yaku_12

Writer’s photograph

The natural farm at Senvus Village conveys the message of protected and sustainable farming by means of three No’s – No agricultural chemical compounds, No weed killer, No chemical fertilizer.

The arrival of the “candy potato professor” is a part of a dedication to seek out unique and progressive farming strategies based mostly on the wealthy pure surroundings in Yakushima, similar to utilizing microbes and creating permaculture. So far as I might style throughout my one week there, the meals grown in Yakushima is certainly very particular, and I hope to return for extra.

The locations we went outdoors volunteering hours

yaku_13

yaku_13

Writer’s photograph

Volunteering on this program was extra enjoyable than work. Volunteers are required to decide to Four-5 hours per day with the weekend off to discover Yakushima all on our personal. Even throughout week days, our host would take us out in his automotive to main factors of curiosity within the southern a part of Yakushima, since these have been the closest to Senvus Village and the varsity.

One time, we packed lunch and had a fantastic afternoon lounging round by the seaside and searching deer and macaques throughout our drive. Having private transportation is nice, since public transport is uncommon and costly, as is the case in most Japanese countryside. Alternatively, hitch-hiking can be an choice however giant teams (like ours) would make drivers assume twice about stopping.

Yakusugi Land

yaku_14

yaku_14

Writer’s photograph

The forests of Yakushima turned Japan’s first UNESCO Pure World Heritage website in 1993, together with Shirakami Sanchi in Aomori/Akita, which additionally impressed the artwork of Princess Mononoke with its mystical mountains.

As Shiratani Unsuikyo – the “Princess Mononoke Forest” – was within the north of the island, we determined to skip it this time, and went climbing on the smaller however nonetheless worthy Yakusugi Land. The cedar timber listed here are significantly youthful – not but three,000 years previous – in comparison with the Jomon Sugi that’s stated to be 7,500 years previous!
yaku_15

yaku_15

Writer’s photograph

The hike was lower than three hours out and in, and doable even for a novice hiker. We bumped right into a seasoned hiker who was rising from the forests after a five-day hike. He advised us he’d been to many forests and mountains, however there’s nothing fairly like these in Yakushima. All of us nodded in settlement, even once we had solely seen a small a part of the island. In every of our little hearts, we vowed to return to this magical place to discover extra.

The Waterfalls: Senpiro-no-Taki and Ohko-no-taki

yaku_16

yaku_16

Writer’s photograph

There are two waterfalls in Yakushima, they usually occur to be situated within the southern a part of the island. Though it was just the start of spring, the quantity of water that got here tumbling down on the falls was spectacular. In any case, Yakushima data by far probably the most rainfall in all of Japan, with its central mountainous space receiving greater than ten occasions the nationwide common annually. The quantity of rain is the rationale why Yakushima is famed for its misty mountains and mysterious environment.

The “hidden” ocean onsen underneath a full moon at Yudomari Onsen

Nighttime Yakushima is a special type of magic, and undoubtedly my most memorable expertise right here. The island is understood for its ocean onsen, two of that are very near the Ohzora Excessive Faculty. The Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen is just accessible throughout low tide that occurs twice a day, whereas the Yudomari Onsen is accessible anytime. When our host introduced us for a recce through the day, we unanimously settled on Yudomari Onsen.

yaku_17

yaku_17

Writer’s photograph

You see, there’s a “hidden” onsen right here and that was the place we went to dip for three hours underneath the complete moon. If you arrive on the onsen, stroll previous the primary onsen space in the direction of the rocky seaside. You’ll need to climb a little bit of the treacherous-looking rocks, however it’s usually protected. You will notice a small oval-shaped rockpool on the verge of the ocean. Undress and go into the recent water for an out-of-this-world onsen expertise.

The “Blair Witch” expertise beneath a sky filled with (capturing) stars

When our host needed to go to Tokyo for enterprise, he invited us to make use of his home – a picket, resort-like villa that overlooks the ocean from the hill aspect the place it stood. Megumi-san and Kazu-san came to visit to assist us make sushi rolls for dinner and a few onigiri for our hike at Yakusugi Land the subsequent day. We made plans to enterprise out to the ocean at night time. After dinner, we made our method down the hill and thru a forested space, guided by the GPS and flashlight on our telephones.

We stored speaking and laughing to calm our nerves as we heard canine howl within the distance. We have been additionally a bit apprehensive as we weren’t positive if the GPS was proper and the place the darkish path earlier than us would lead us.

Fortunately we had one another, and we ultimately got here to slightly stony pier jutting out into the darkish ocean. We lay down in silence for an hour or two, underneath a blanket of stars. We could be imagining it, however we have been positive at the moment that we noticed fairly a couple of capturing stars.

The valuable friendship

44d29d2792be3bad9a9ed98c7bbb20d6

44d29d2792be3bad9a9ed98c7bbb20d6

Writer’s photograph

Fairly often, we meet fascinating vacationers throughout our journeys, solely to should say goodbye the subsequent day. With volunteering, we get to spend each waking second collectively. We speak, we snigger, we share our experiences and uncover we now have a lot to study from one another.

The Polish volunteer had been in Japan for fairly a while already touring and dealing in Hokkaido, and can be headed to Okinawa after Yakushima. The Swiss volunteer had simply gained a scholarship from the Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce and would quickly transfer to Tokyo.

The Chinese language volunteer had taught youngsters for a yr in Kenya and was to additional her research in Canada. I had simply returned from a 6-year stint in China and taking a niche yr to rejuvenate and re-evaluate my passions.

Volunteering brings like-minded individuals collectively. The 4 of us had all come from totally different nations and backgrounds, however we had chosen this place for a selected cause – maybe a ardour for the place, the life-style or the group and tradition. We think about ourselves as a part of Yakushima’s magical biodiversity; for all our variations, a standard ardour for journey has paved the best way for a a lot treasured, lifelong friendship.

The Yakushima Workaway Program

Workaway is a platform that connects hosts who need assistance with volunteers who can render the help. It’s a good way to journey because the hosts will present lodging and meals, in addition to interplay and insights into native communities, in trade for volunteering hours.

There are various forms of jobs out there, so be happy to decide on those that meet your personal pursuits and journey wants. It’s free to lookup info on potential hosts, however it’s worthwhile to pay an annual payment to contact them – USD42 for one individual or USD54 for couple/two associates – so do consider should you’re critical about volunteering earlier than signing up.

The Yakushima Workaway Program could be very in style, so be sure to ebook your spot method prematurely!
Senvus Village is situated right here, whereas Ohzora Excessive Faculty is situated right here.

Aside from Workaway, there are additionally various different web sites the place one can register to volunteer for various causes, akin to WWOOF that’s targeted on natural farming and sustainability. Most of those platforms cost a payment, however on boards like Couchsurfing, we will additionally discover hosts who publish openings, or we will inquire about volunteering alternatives at our journey locations.

Entry to Yakushima

Yakushima is accessible by air and sea. JAL operates flights to and from Osaka, Fukuoka and Kagoshima.

The extra widespread method is by sea from Kagoshima. There are three forms of ferry decisions, relying in your time and finances. For an in depth schedule, please examine right here.
66c19942ab4ba346fdb64ccc04cde3731

66c19942ab4ba346fdb64ccc04cde3731

Further Info on Yakushima

The web site Yakumonkey Web site and the Instagram account @yakushimalife present good info and photographs to encourage your journey to Yakushima!

(perform()
var fbds = doc.createElement(‘script’);
fbds.async = true;
fbds.src = ‘//join.fb.internet/en_US/fbds.js’;
var s = doc.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(fbds, s);
_fbq.loaded = true;

_fbq.push([‘addPixelId’, ‘1506564356284649’]);
)();
window._fbq = window._fbq || [];
window._fbq.push([‘track’, ‘PixelInitialized’, ]);
(perform()
var fbds = doc.createElement(‘script’);
fbds.async = true;
fbds.src = ‘//join.fb.internet/en_US/fbds.js’;
var s = doc.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(fbds, s);
_fbq.loaded = true;

)();
window._fbq = window._fbq || [];
window._fbq.push([‘track’, ‘6025566316801’, ‘value’:’0.00′,’currency’:’JPY’]);