Located in the interior of Yaku Island, at the meeting-point of the palaearctic and oriental biotic regions, Yakushima exhibits a rich flora, with some 1,900 species and subspecies, including ancient specimens of the sugi (Japanese cedar). It also contains a remnant of a warm-temperate ancient forest that is unique in this region.
Yakushima is a primeval temperate rainforest extending from the centre of the almost round-shaped, mountainous Yakushima Island. Situated 60 km off the southernmost tip of Kyushu Island in the southwestern end of Japanese archipelago, the island is located at the interface of the palearctic and oriental biotic regions. Mountains reaching almost 2,000 m high dominate the island, and the property lies in the centre of the island, with arms stretching south, east and west to the coast.
The island ecosystem of Yakushima is unique in the Northern Hemisphere’s temperate area with successive vertical plant distributions extending from coastal vegetation with subtropical elements, up through a montane temperate rainforest to a high moor and a cold-temperate bamboo grassland at the central peaks.
The montane temperate rainforest of Yakushima is globally distinct, due to its peculiar ecosystem with abundant rheophytes and epiphytes that have adapted to the high rainfall, in excess of 8,000 mm annually, and resulting humid environment. Home to some 1,900 species and subspecies of flora, 16 mammal species and 150 bird species, it exhibits a rich biodiversity including the landscape of the Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica), a primeval forest composed of trees called “Yakusugi”, which are over 1,000 years in age.
Criterion (vii): Yakushima, despite being a small island, boasts several key features including impressive mountains which rise to nearly 2,000 m, and an outstanding gradient from the high peaks of the central core down to the seacoast. The property is home to a number of extremely large diameter Japanese cedar trees, thousands of years old with the oldest and most spectacular individuals of the species found on Yakushima Island. It contains the last, best example of an ecosystem dominated by the Japanese cedar in a superb scenic setting. Thus, Yakushima is a valuable property having natural areas of biological, scientific and aesthetic significance on a small island.
Criterion (ix): Yakushima is an island ecosystem with high mountains––a characteristic rare in the region at around 30 degrees north latitude. It contains a unique remnant of a warm-temperate primeval forest which has been much reduced elsewhere in the region. These forests extend through an altitudinal sequence from the coast up to the central peaks. The property is very important for scientific studies on evolutionary biology, biogeography, vegetation succession, interaction of lowland and upland systems, hydrology, and warm-temperate ecosystem processes.
Nishinoomote is a city located on the island of Tanegashima, in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. As of June 2013, the city has an estimated population of 16,418 and a population density of 79.8 persons per km². The total area is 205.75 km². Nishinoomote, located on the northern portion of Tanegashima, is bordered by the East China Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east, and by the Osumi Strait separating Tanegashima from the Kyushu mainland. The city also includes the offshore island of Mageshima within its borders. Nishinoomote has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with long, hot, humid summers and mild winters. Precipitation is abundant throughout the year, with particularly heavy rainfall in May, June, August and September. The area is subject to frequent typhoons. Kitatane Village was established on April 1, 1889. It was elevated to town status on April 1, 1926 and renamed Nishinoomote. Towards the end of World War II, the town was garrisoned by a 12,000-man force from the Imperial Japanese Army and was thus subjected to bombing by the United States Navy in 1945 [read more].
Ibusuki is a city in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, at the southeastern tip of the Satsuma Peninsula. It styles itself as a sort of “Hawaii of Japan,” and does exude a peaceful atmosphere. It is famous for its flowery botanical garden, proximity to the tranquil Lake Ikeda and the green conical Mount Kaimon, and a small island with a disappearing sand walkway called Chiringashima. Yet it’s the natural hot springs beneath the beach called sunamushi, roughly translated as a sand bath, that is the town’s biggest claim to fame. If you’re daring or curious enough to try being buried in steaming hot sand as a kind of luxury spa experience, you’ll find a most interesting chance here. Getting to Ibusuki will almost certainly involve going through Kagoshima. See: Chiringashima is a small, uninhabited island with a sand walkway that appears at low tide. From March to October, a sandbar of about 800 m allows you to walk across part of Kinko Bay to the island in about 20 minutes [read more].
Kagoshima is the capital of Kagoshima prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan. Kagoshima is a historical city watched over by the looming bulk of Sakurajima, an active volcano that regularly dumps ash over the city and erupts a bit every now and then to remind people it’s still there. The home of near-mythical samurai hero Saigo Takamori, it’s full of sites related to the Satsuma Rebellion. See Sakurajima. Kagoshima’s temperamental (and active) volcano can be reached by ferry in a matter of minutes. Face your fear and get up close and personal – just don’t wear too much white, as the ash will leave you looking slightly grey. Yunohira Lookout is a two-hour hike or 15-minute drive from Sakurajima harbor and gives you a good view both to Kagoshima harbor and Sakurajima volcano. There are also a couple of other lookout points, where you can take a closer look at the volcano [read more].