A few pictures of really old trees and Why I love Rotary International.

If you put it all together, yesterday and today I spent about nine hours preparing for my speech in front of the Iki Central Rotary Club.  The speech (3 pages) took four hours to write and one hour to edit.  The visual aids (5 boards) took three hours to create.  The envelopes for donations took another hour.

But it was SO WORTH IT.

I’ve been a big fan of Rotary International ever since the Gig Harbor Rotary Club started giving me scholarships for college (to a total of $16,000 for four years).  I’m from Gig Harbor, Washington, originally.  Best town in the states!

Well, now I have another awesome-tastic reason for loving the Rotary, and that’s because Iki Central Rotary donated, all together, about $670 for charity: water!!!

That puts my total over $2000!

Which, in case you were wondering, means that Iki and I have given over 100 people clean, safe water for two decades.

Can I get a HELL YEAH?

Hell Yeah!

(Disclaimer: As of today, this amount is not yet reflected on my charity: water campaign page because I don’t have the money available on my credit card.  Yeah, big sweatdrop.  However, I’ll be wiring home everything on Friday, and so I should be able to donate with my debit on Saturday.  Win!)

Only one big speech left–in front of all my students at my largest Middle School.  Here’s hoping they don’t fall asleep!

So continuing with my pictures of my adventures through Kagoshima Prefecture, here are a few of the beautiful island of Yakushima.  As I’ve mentioned before, the primordial forests on this island were used as inspiration for the forest in Princess Mononoke (and in fact I walked through the “Mononoke-hime Forest”).  Some of the trees are over 1500 years old–the oldest top 2000+ years.  Almost all the island is designated as a National Park, and it’s also a UNESCO world heritage site.

It is amazing.  If you ever make it to Japan and you at all enjoy hiking, I would highly recommend it.  I know that part of what made it so gorgeous was my phenomenal weather + the autumn leaves, but I bet it’s pretty knock-your-socks off in the summer, too.  And it’s probably better for camping then.  (Which I did not do, as I had neither the gear nor the money to rent the gear nor the time to do said camping.)

So here you go:


During the Edo period Yakushima was heavily logged. The cedar trees made great roof shingles, apparently.

A short hike for the first half-day I spent there. Oh, Katakana. Why they can't just write "Yakusugi Land" instead of "Yakusugirando..." I will never understand.

The unfortunate fact of traveling alone is that getting people in photos for perspective becomes difficult.

So I used my rental car instead. Yes, the tree behind my car is almost as wide as the car is long.

This tree is... uhm... over 1000 years old... I don't remember, really.

These rocks were actually laid 300-400 years ago by Edo loggers to make the movement of logs easier.

This tree is in Princess Mononoke forest.

I’ll add some more later!  Especially ones that showcase the beautiful autumn foliage.  You also should see “Wilson’s Stump,” as the size is just mind-boggling.

I’d say the closest thing to this forest that I’ve experienced in America would be the Olympic National Forest in Western Washington, but even there I don’t think they have trees this old.  I couldn’t say for sure though.  My memory of when my family visited there is hazy.

Okay, that’s all for now.

I should go to sleep.