Yakushima/Miyanoura – Broken promise

I didn’t sleep much last night. The dream was a call to my guilt. A watchtower stood at the entrance to the Yodogawa tozanguchi, and was manned by two fierce sentries. They were not going to let me pass with a dog. I had read of a Japanese taking his Papillon dog into the park through the exit, which was unmanned. But here, the sentries were keeping watch of both the entrance and the exit. I chose not to reveal my fears to Kin, but thought long and hard about whether I should take Hana up the hill.

Once on the trail, the concentration required to navigate the tree roots dispelled any worries about being in a World Heritage Site with a dog. But under the law, it is *not* illegal. Releasing or capturing fauna and flora is.

I heard them long before I saw them. Nothing to do with natural heritage, approximately 30 pensioners were chattering loudly as they picnicked in the sunshine amid the swaying sasa grass. The first guide said nothing. The second, “No dogs. No no.” “So which is worse, I bring 1 animal, or you bring 30?” was on the tip of my tongue, but all that emerged was “Sumimasen”. The dog doesn’t talk, doesn’t litter, doesn’t drop food. And, unlike the third guide, does not smoke. Having come this far, it was a relief not to be defeated and to reach the top without physical deterrence.

Driving slowly back down the mountain road, Yakushima deer and monkeys were stationed where cars could pull over, surely only because people have fed them in the past. Yes, if you really want to protect this heritage, please do not build a massive road across the mountainside, and do not allow people into the park.

And the broken promise? Nothing to do with dogs. After a successful climb, we stocked up in the supermarket for a feast, where cans of beer were glistening with sweat in the moist air and positively calling out “Buy me, buy me!”. We had promised not to drink during this week of climbing.

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