I captured Shiratani Unsuikyo in Yakushima, Japan. Yakushima is a subtropical island off the southern coast of Kyushu and part of Kagoshima Prefecture. It is covered by an extensive cedar forest that contains some of Japan’s oldest living trees. Trees that are more than 1000 years old are affectionately called yakusugi (a combination of Yakushima and sugi, the Japanese word for cedar), the most ancient of which may be over 7000 years old.
The island’s cedar forests were logged extensively in the past, particularly during the Edo Period for the production of cedar shingles. Today the forests have well recovered from past logging and are a national park, while some areas were declared a Natural World Heritage Site in 1993. Most tourists come to the island to hike through the forests and see the ancient cedar trees.
Shiratani Unsuikyo is the motif of “Princess Mononoke”. Princess Mononoke is a 1997 Japanese epic historical fantasy anime film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, produced by Studio Ghibli.