Urban Camping Japan - Week 4
~ Adventure by Ahslynn and Val ~
Waking up in the Dinosaur Park and looking out over the bay, I noticed the same submarine was still there after showing up the previous day. I was happy to see it finally moving, because then hopefully I would be able to watch it submerge. I got out my camera to video it, after almost 5 minutes of film I gave up. Then, just as I stopped filming and turned my back, it went under! It was a little frustrating, but still cool to see! We packed up quick so we could make it to the ferry in time to head off to Yakushima and the Onaida forest that Hayao Miyazaki used as inspiration for Princess Mononoke, one of the films that inspired me to visit Japan in the first place.
There are homeless cats everywhere in Japan, some more comfortable around people than others, but many of them are taken care of by locals that bring water and food for them. The cats on Sakurajima that we fed with some leftover lunch were very friendly. One of them even snuggled up with me after eating and drank some water that I put into the plastic base that my ice cream cone had come in – yum yum ice cream by the way.
The portion of Onaida Nature Trail we went on was under the forest canopy the entire way except at the very end where I was surrounded by misty clouds and amazing ancient trees! Although Lonely Planet and the Yakushima tourist center both quoted that the Onaida Nature Trail would only take 7-8 hours it took us a total of two and a half days. It was ridiculous how crazy the trail was; the people seriously marked trees in the complete wilderness with pink plastic tape and then called it a trail. The trail was full of obstacles, large boulders, streams, mountains after mountains to climb, river, and two groups of monkeys. It was so rigorous. I camped out in nature two nights and filtered water for drinking and cooking. The first night I slept under a wonderfully placed rest hut that was stuck to the side of a very steep section of the trail; luckily the huts pillars were far enough apart for me to hang my Nubé and hammocks because there were benches right in the center, but not big enough to do anything except cook or sit.
After emerging from this beautiful but exhausting hike we were then off to see the sea turtles at the beach of Yakushima. We got to the beach earlier in the day and went across the highway into some trees and hung the Nubé (our home). We watched a long video of what type of turtles we may be seeing (all in Japanese of course). During this video all the non-Japanese speaking tourists’ followed two gecko's as they searched for their next meal near the lights on the hut we were all huddled under, trying to avoid the torrential down pour. We also watched one very large spider that just stayed halfway hidden (don't think his whole body could fit in the crack he called home). Around 10:00pm, when some people had decided to go home, we were suddenly ushered single file, in complete darkness across the uneven terrain of Inakahama Beach. Each of us holding onto the shoulder of the person in front of us. There were about 30 of us in all, a few British, and the rest Japanese. Finally they led us to a secluded spot, deep in the sand, where they allowed us to experience a female Loggerhead Sea Turtle laying her eggs. Standing in a torrential downpour we watched as the beautiful majestic creature, approximately 5 foot in length, 4 foot wide with a neck of about 8 inches in diameter, birthed her ever so fragile eggs. As she began burring the eggs, wildlife officials took blood samples, tagged her back fin and replaced a GPS tag in her front fin. They dug up her eggs to count and protect them; (in July you can watch the babies scurry back to the sea, from human dug nests). When she was done burying her eggs she was off to the ocean as yet another sea turtle scoured the beach for her location to dig. Meanwhile, I was making a bit of a gutter at the bottom of my jacket to keep all the rain from filling my shoes! We loved this experience! It was on my bucket list and was so special to me. We had hung our Nubé before it had gotten dark across the street from the beach, and as a tour bus passed with our fellow Sea Turtle viewers aboard, we disappeared into the tree's. Though it was a blistering, windy, rainy, night we pulled off our wet clothing and slept dry and peacefully.
After leaving the southern island of Yakushima, we took the four-hour ferry ride to Kagoshima and some of our beloved 7-eleven food, and then slept in our fantastic hammocks. Luckily, we had grown accustomed to hanging the Nubé no matter what the weather, so when it rained that night we were nice and dry. The puddle that was similar to a lake under our Nubé was something else. It made it a little interesting when getting out and breaking down camp in the morning.