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travel guide of Kuchino-erabu island

      Email:erabu.info@gmail.com

891-4208 Kuchi-Erabu Island, Yakushima-cho

 Landscape 

Mountain Area

Kuchunoerabu-jima Island currently has an active volcano. Two composite volcanoes, Mt. Furu-dake and Mt. Shin-dake in the eastern part of the island have fumarolic activity. Visitors can see the dynamic landscapes of volcano that are not seen on Yakushima Island.


The highest point on the island is Mt. Shin-dake with a height of 657 meters, and only the low-land is a slight indentation of the coastline.









From the top of the mountain, you can find a bay in the center of the island.
In the days of sailing, the bay was a good, natural harbor to avoid the storm, or to wait for good winds. It was built into the important route that connected between China,Ryukyu Kingdom and the Satsuma clan (Kagoshima).
Because of the Japanese Current (Kuroshio stream), the waters around the Tokara archipelago were difficult for sailing boats to cross.



When you go around the Kuchinoerabu-jima, you can meet cattle that have been grazing and wild deer here and there along the way.

Also, when you drive, you can appreciate the forest's depth. You will find a laurel forest consisting of trees, Sudajii (Castanopsis sieboldii Hats.) , Tabunoki (Persea thunbergii Kosterm.), Hisakaki (Eurya japonica Tunb.) , Gajumaru (Chinese Banyan, Ficus microcarpa L.f.), Akou (Banyan tree, Ficus superba Miq. var. japonica Corner) and Moku-tachibana (Ardijia sieboldii Miq.). Many of the cultivated land has been abandoned and is covered with bamboo mainly.

There are also unique landscapes with cliffs and huge rocks spread along the coast where most of the regions remain natural. You can see fierce waves striking the towering rock, which was generated by the lava flow years ago.




To the north, you can see three islands: the Ioh-jima, Kuro-shima and Take-shima. On clear days, Mt Kaimon in the southern tip of Kyushu is in the distant view.



Pointing your eyes to the south, you can see the Tokara Islands in the folds.
Anywhere from the round road gives a first-rate view.

 Volcano (Mt.Shin-dake)

The oldest eruption on record occurred in 1841 at Mt. Shin-dake. Several villages were burned, and many lives were lost.
From 1930-1970, the island sustained further damage due to eruption.
The volcano, which had last erupted in 1980, had eruption on August 3, 2014.
On May 29, 2015, the volcano had erupted again. All residents were evacuated to the Yakushima Island for 7 months. Now, we islanders lead a life safely. Guest houses(minshuku) are open. You can not enter within 2km from the volcano.


 Sea 
The sea around the Kuchinoerabu-jima is known as one of the richest locations of fish species of Japan.
The rich fauna is a result of multiple environments of the sea including deep and shallow seas. The transparency of the sea water is high, and the color is a deep blue. Many kinds of coral and fish inhabit it. The entire island is designated as a National Park with scattered coral colonies or sand beaches where sea turtles lay their eggs.


       


 Sight-Seeing

Tachi-gami(Big rock)

In the vicinity of Nemachi hot spring, the coast is the scenic spot of choice on the island.
Be overwhelmed by the majestic figure of Tachi-gami (Big Rock) soaring into the sky. Tachi-gami means "standing God". It has been the subject of faith. According to the tradition, there is a small shrine at the top portion.
In the same area, a hot spring has sprung out from the sea. Tucked between the coast and Tachi-gami, the hot spring can be enjoyed at low tide.  

A cape called "Sensuiga-hana" is near the Nemachi hot spring. The cap has an eagle-shaped rock, and if you dive into the sea near the rock, bubbles of a hot spring well up like a shower from 10 meters under. These waters are one of the best diving spots in Kuchinoerabu-jima.


Volcano (Mt.Shin-dake) and Dormant volcano (Mt.Furu-dake)


Now the climbing is prohibited after eruption on 2015, Mt.Furu-dake while the volcanic activity of Mt.Shin-dake is dormant. F

Be careful. Now the climbing is prohibited after eruption on 2015.

Mt. Shin-dake is currently an active volcano. It is off limits from the nearby crater. Depending on the situation of the volcanic activity, the entry point changes.
If you are planning a mountain hike, please check the volcano information.



 Wild Life

Plants

Most of the island is covered with evergreen forests.







When the islanders left for the city
, many cedars were planted in the abandoned farmland.
Lords bamboo is grown thick in the abandoned farm land
. Because the bamboo shoot is delicious, the islanders harvest by competing in every rainy season.


Maruba-satsuki

The colony of Maruba-satsuki (plant species of azalea) can only be seen around the peaks of mountains affected by volcanic gasses.

Maruba-satsuki


20-30 strains of Takaturu-Ran (a mycoheterotrophic orchid, Erythrorchis altissima) were found at the forest in Kuchino-Erabu Island, the northern limit of its habitat. Although they were found in Tanegashima and Yakushima, their numbers are less than in Kuchino-Erabu.




National monument designated

The Erabu flying fox is National monument designation granted to Kuchino-Erabu Island.
Mishima freshwater crabs (Photo*) were given status as natural monument of Kagoshima Prefecture on April 2013.
Natural monuments from the regions of India Ohishisou and Okichi-mozuku grow on Kuchinoerabu-jima Island.

*The following photo of Mishima freshwater crabs was reprinted from the website of the Board of Education of Kagoshima Prefecture.


Erabu Frying Fox

When you come to the island, please look up into the night sky. Forty to fifty minutes after sunset, you may be able to see the huge Erabu flying fox. They are often in the banyan, Washington palm, and mulberry trees.
The Erabu flying fox only inhabits Tokara and Kuchinoerabu-jima Island. In February 1975, the flying fox was designated as a national monument. In addition, it was designated as an endangered species in IA (CR), and was entered in the Red Data Book of the Ministry of the Environment.


Photo by Mr. Takeshi Noda (Mainichi News Paper, on May,2017)




The length of the body, including the head is about 25 centimeters. It is about the same size as the crow when the wings are spread.
The body color is dark brown. There is a yellow band on the neck of males and a band of white on the females.
They are nocturnal and rest, hanging in trees in the forest during the day. They use sight to fly rather than sonar.
They fly to the feeding grounds a while after sunset, and eat fruit and leaves of the banyan tree. They sometimes eat insects.
After drinking and squeezing the juice, they spit out the dregs (Pellet).
They swallow some extent soft things, such as bananas, they eat whole.
They live in the Tokara Islands (Nakano-shima and Takara-jima Island) .The Kuchino-Erabu Island is the northern most location of the Erabu flying fox in the world.

Sea Turtle

If you take a walk on the Mukae-hama beach in the May-July, you will see the footprints of sea turtles. If you walk in the early morning,you might be lucky and come across spawning sea turtles.
In order to protect sea turtles, a volunteer group, Erabu Senior Group, is engaged in research and protection activities.
If you visit the island in July-September, you can see the footprints of baby turtles headed to the sea.  

1) If you find the footprints of sea turtles,
Please do not step on them.
We use the footprints to calculate the population of sea turtles.

2) When you want to observe the sea turtles at night,
Please do not turn on the light.
When the turtles have noticed light, they stop landing and spawning.

Green Sea Turtle inhabiting


If you visit the island during the summer, you may see 3 or 4 green turtles that inhabit with offshore area of the Miura fishing port. You may swim and touch them if you'd like. One turtle you'll find is missing a front, left flipper.









 Volunteer


In order to protect the creatures such as the Erabu flying fox, sea turtles, and forest, plants, volunteers of the island created a protection activities.
Please feel free the volunteer!

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