I recently went on a trip to Yakushima, an island off of southern Japan. This is a trip I have long wanted to make.

I first became enthralled with this island when a documentary showed that the Japanese macaques that live there feed the deer by throwing nuts down for them to eat from the top of the trees and showed films of these monkeys RIDING ON THE BACKS OF THE DEER.

The Jomonsugi is another main attraction. It is a giant cedar tree which scientists estimate to be at least 2000 years old and possibly as old as 7200 years, the oldest on the mountain. It is not very tall, standing around 25 meters high, yet it has a massive trunk about 5 meters in diameter. Traditionally, these ancient cedar trees are revered as sacred. This is one of the last old-growth forests of Japan and 95% of the island is designated national forest.

To get to the Jomonsugi, the trail is partly on an old railway track but when it starts climbing it is a tough climb, with gnarled roots, small boulders and some stairs here and there built for climbers. The deer and the macaques have not been fed by humans so do not bother you. They just go about their business, but I imagined, looking into their faces, that they were a bit skeptical of me laboring through on unpracticed feet. The forest seemed to want to prevent me from getting there (this is the forest that inspired Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke’s forest). I was glad to FINALLY reach the tree and be in the presence of such a magnificent being. I sensed its patience and took a lesson from that.

Here is a quote for today:

“Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing speed. Let me look into the towering oak and know that it grew straight and strong because it grew slowly and well.”  Orin L. Crain


Here we are in front of the old Jomon Tree.