Guest Author - Joy Alari
The Jomon Sugi is a specie of the Cryptomeria Japonica, though there are varied estimates to its actual age, with some experts tagging the Jomon Sugi, to be between 2,000 or 5,000 years old, others insists that the Jomon Sugi is at most 7,000 years old but all this estimates, still makes the Jomon Sugi to be the oldest tree in Japan.
As you may have guessed, the Jomon Sugi derives its name from the Jomon period, which is the pre-historic era of Japan.
Today the Jomon Sugi still grows, on the North side of Miyanoura dake, which is the highest peak in Yakushima, it stands tall at 83 feet and though the Jomon Sugi is not the tallest tree in Japan but with a volume of 300 meter square and a trunk circumference of 53 feet, obviously sets the Jomon Sugi in the leading position, as the largest tree in Japan.
The Jomon Sugi was first discovered in 1968 and almost immediately, moves were made by both the Japanese Government as well as conservationists, to protect this Japanese National treasure, its natural habitat included so all the forests of Yakushima, was placed under Government protection, Yakushima was also later made a World Heritage Site in 1993.
The bid to protect the Jomon Sugi had its advantages, as it led to a rise in tourism in Yakushima because every Japanese, as well as foreigners wanted to see, touch as well as marvel at this prehistoric work of nature.
Being this old, you can bet that the Jomon Sugi, would have its own tales to tell, especially with issues of vandalism. In 2005 some Jomon Sugi enthusiasts successfully took chunks of bark from each side of the Jomon Sugi but now the Jomon Sugi is so well protected, that you can see this tree, only on an observation deck, which is about 15 meters away from the Jomon Sugi, so itís now a case of seeing and certainly no touching.
If you are interested, in viewing this wonder of nature up close, then a trip to Japan should be in the works.
Once in Yakushima, itís at least a five hour hike from the nearest road, through the Husugawa hiking path [which is east of the Miyanoura dake] and the Arakawa trail [starting from the Arakawa dam] it is after all these that you would finally set your sights, on the Jomon Sugi the oldest tree in Japan.