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only when it’s pretty
1: mount miyanoura, japan

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1: mount miyanoura, japan - the auroran sunset

Here at abelard.org, we take a lot of photographs. Many of them are pretty. This is the first of what I hope will become a regular “photograph with little or no explanation or comment” feature. As you can see below, we aren’t very good at stopping ourselves from explaining. We’ll try harder next time!

Sea view from Yakushima Island, Japan. Image credit: the auroran sunset

Three photos from an autumn walk [12 Nov. 2005] up Yakushima Island’s [1] Mount Miyanoura. At 1935 metres high, this makes it the highest mountain in Kyushu [area marked in blue on the map], and 70th highest in Japan. Yakushima Island is a two-hour catamaran ride away from Kagoshima port.

Forest clearing on Yakushima Island. Image credit: the auroran sunset.

Sitting on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the island is almost perfectly circular and covered in mountains, waterfalls and Japanese cedar (sugi) forests. The forests are full of monkeys and deer, outnumbering the people on the island. The climate is semi-tropical and the people are friendly and kind even by Japanese standards. A lovely place for a holiday.

Autumn on Yakushima Island. Image credit: the auroran sunset.

end notes

  1. Shima, sometimes jima, is the Japanese word for “island”, so saying Yakushima Island is somewhat tautologous.

    Yukushima is 130 km around, and has an area of about 500 square km. It has a population of about 14,000. Yukushima has 45 mountains over 1,000 metres and 20 over 1,500 metres. Japan’s tallest mountain is Mount Fuji at 3776 metres, called Fuji-san by the natives. This is a kind of Japanese pun: san is a polite suffix to put on someone else’s name, like Mr or Miss in English. It is also one way to read the kanji character for mountain Japanese kanji for mountain: yama; san, zan. It is very easy to pun in Japanese, so this sort of word-play is common.

  2. Just as with Britain and Hawaii, “Kyushu” is usually used to refer to only the large island, but sometimes to refer to the archipelego. Yakushima is part of the Kyushu archipelego.

    Kyushu Hokkaido Honshu Shikoku Okinawa
    hover for names of coloured regions

  3. Sugi trees (cryptomeria japonica) are not true cedars. Sugi are huge hardwood trees with amazingly smooth bark. Some of them are apparently thousands of years old. One tree on the island (called the Jomon Sugi) is estimated at 2,700 years old, although locals claim 7,000 plus years. This latter claim is seriously implausible, given that the oldest known tree was only 4,862 years old when a researcher chopped it down by misadventure in 1954. Both that tree and the current oldest known tree are bristlecone pines, pinus longaeva. The unlucky tree was found in Wheeler Peak in Nevada. The current title-holder resides in the White Mountains of California, where the original longevity research on this species was done.

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