Yakushima (Pt.4) – The Spiritual Power of Wood and Water

Breakfast, British style!

Feeling right at home after breakfast, gear was packed up and it’s was time to get back on the road.

Today was dedicated to Yakushima’s waterfalls.

There are four really impressive natural waterfalls on the island.

The first being a huge waterfall that we were able to get really close to, called ōkonotaki Falls. At 88m high, it’s one of Yakushima’s highest falls.

Ōkonotaki Falls

Being blasted in the face with a cool mist from the raw power of this waterfall, it feels like how you would imagine a classic waterfall to be. When it rains on Yakushima, this waterfall is said to be twice as powerful.

Nakamagajumaru Tree and Man-made Waterfall

Near our campsite and the Yakushima Fruit Farm is a charming man-made waterfall with a very stringy tree hanging at its banks.

Senpiro Waterfall

The second natural falls we went to was Senpiro Waterfall, the water cascaded playfully from the natural granite cliff face. This impressive sight is at the base of Mocchomudake’s hiking course, and it has it’s own car park.

Ryuujin no Taki

Driving along the main island road across a bridge, we pass another, Ryuujin no Taki, hidden within the trees. This one is located between Senpiro and Torohki Waterfalls.

Torohki No Taki

My favourite falls however was Torohkinotaki Waterfall. As I gazed upon this graceful double waterfall, I felt a sense of calm wash over me. This fall joins the same river as Senpiro, and leads directly out to sea. A very pretty view.

Images of crystallised water after being shown the words “Love” and “Appreciation”

All this viewing of fresh Yaku-water had made us thirsty, so we stopped at a nearby water stream to fill up, and met a lady who was keeping the water stream clean for us.

There were some interesting pictures in the rest-area here and we got chatting about them. She told us that her husband usually sells his handicraft here and can talk to us more about this study that the photos showed us.

They welcomed us into their beautiful home that smelled like wood. Her husband was a wise man, with a great sense of humour. I had to turn my best Japanese listening skills on whilst we chatted about Dr Masaru Emoto’s work on water.

Here is a video explaining more:

First he exposes the water to pictures, words and music. Then, he freezes water for 3 hours at -30 degrees. After freezing, he looks at them under a microscope. Like snow flakes, every crystal is a different shape due to the different word shown or music played.

Beautiful pure words, pictures and music made very symmetrical beautiful shapes. Hateful or bad words produced sporadic shapes or no crystallisation at all.

Dr. Emoto explains that it is all down in the feeling or vibrations of these words to change and create different energies through the water. Furthermore, he links his research to how people feel when exposed to positive and negative energy, as the human body is 80% water. We were fascinated!

Travellers Tip: To read more about Masaru Emoto’s work in English, I highly recommend this book:  The Hidden Messages in Water

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We discussed this further over a beautiful lunch his wife made for us from the fresh vegetables in their garden. All their water came running down from the mountains for free.

But that wasn’t the only thing he collected from the running streams.

Large piece of raw Jōmon Sugi

Okamoto-san was a woods craftsman, and he had been collecting Jōmon Sugi for years. It is illegal to collect it from the site of the Jōmon Sugis in the mountains so he waits for pieces to be washed downstream.


The woodgrain of Jōmon Sugi is extremely tight (each ring is a year old) and these trees are thousands of years old. These trees grow in dense forest on a bed of granite rock, meaning that there is not much water in the earth for these trees to grow easily.

So they grow slowly and the wood becomes extremely tough with a high resin content, with many knots and twists in the grain displaying the stresses that the tree went through to survive.

Hand-crafted Jōmon Sugi Jewellery

This makes this wood extremely beautiful.

Okamoto-san’s Jewellery collection from different Jōmon Sugis

Okamoto-san makes jewellery from it, and from a material so old and so spiritual from a tree that has been alive since the Jōmon Period (14,000 – 300 BC), he believes that it has healing qualities.

Jōmon Sugi Magatama

Life in Yakushima had started to take a positive effect on our well-being, so we decided to choose one of these bean-shaped beads to keep as a reminder of how powerful nature can be on the soul.

This bean-shape is actually Magatama. Magatamas appeared in prehistoric Japan from the final Jōmon period through the Kofun period, (1,000 BC to the 6th century AD). Originally made from primitive earthenware materials, they were eventually exclusively made out of Jade. I felt that it was fitting for Ojiisan to make these Jōmon Sugi pieces into magatama, as the wood came from the same era that the shape was created.

The most noteworthy magatama is the Yasakani no Magatama. It is one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan, the other two being the sword Kusanagi and a mirror Yata no Kagami. Since 690, the presentation of these items to the Emperor by the priests at the shrine has been a central element of the enthronement ceremony. These regalia live in shrines and Imperial Palaces in Ise, Nagoya and Tokyo now.

Hirauchikaichu Hot Spring

As a completion to an uplifting day in the kindness of strangers, with the promise of a comfortable stay in their beautiful fragrant home tonight, we decided to test out the healing powers of water at Hirauchikaichu Hot Spring.

A glorious three rock pools of differing temperature of sea water. It was heaven. And if you wanted to go for a naked dip in the freezing sea afterwards, like a crazy greek guy I met with a snorkel was doing… you could!

Bathing in Hirauchikaichu Hot Spring

For foreign tourists deciding to come here, yes, the rules apply like any other onsen in Japan, you are naked. And it’s a mixed onsen, yippee!

You are allowed to wear a towel in the water. I was encouraged to rent a linen dress from a lady in a small shop up the road from this onsen. She hand-makes them all, and it was really quite pretty, I didn’t want to get it wet!

The BEST part about this onsen was that it was 100¥, paid into a small donations box by the sign. 100¥!!!

Travellers Tips:

Access to all waterfalls are free. A great activity on a rainy day in Yakushima as these falls become more impressive in the rain.

Hirauchikaichu Hot Spring: 100¥. Bring a Towel. Dress rental was 500¥ from the lady in the cafe/shop up the path from the onsen. Toilets up there too. The hot spring has no changing facilities so if you like you can change in the toilets.

I highly recommend visiting this south area of Yakushima island, look out for green signs with yellow writing next to a water spring for collecting fresh water. The old man we met will be selling his pieces there. He might even disappear some clouds for you if you ask nicely 😉


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