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Hiking mysterious Yakushima Island for Street View (pictures)

Home to giant cedar trees and massive annual rainfall, this island in southern Japan inspired Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke."

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Tim Hornyak
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1 of 5 Google Japan

Cedar country

Google Street View hikers recently climbed into the interior of Yakushima Island off southern Japan to photograph its famed cedar trees.
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2 of 5 Google Japan

Into the interior

The hiking trail leading into the heart of Yakushima Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features an abandoned logging railroad track. It's a flat, easygoing walk until the path heads up the mountainside.
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3 of 5 Google Japan

Wilson's Stump

A Google Street View hiker pauses by Wilson's Stump, a cedar that was felled in the 1500s and named for English plant collector E.H. Wilson in the 1900s. It is believed to have been some 3,000 years old and had a base circumference of over 100 feet. The wood was apparently used in the construction of Hoko-ji temple in Kyoto.
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4 of 5 Google Japan

Yakusugi

Yakushima's interior is known for its yakusugi, a type of cryptomeria (Japanese cedar) that is more than a thousand years old. The high rainfall on the island allows these cedars to live longer than others in Japan.
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5 of 5 Google Japan

The granddaddy of them all

In the background is Yakushima's Jomon Sugi, an 83-foot-tall cedar with a trunk measuring 53 feet around.

Estimated to be anywhere from 2,000 to 7,000 years old, Jomon Sugi is the oldest tree on Yakushima, the oldest conifer in Japan, and a destination for thousands of hikers who visit Yakushima every year.

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