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Into the Less Mild

Yakushima: a hard rain's gonna fall

It’s raining hard by the time I manage to find the start of the trail, tantalisingly located next to the local onsen. Two old dears, cooling off on a wooden bench after a morning’s bathe stare, and once eye contact is confirmed they look up to the skies and back at me with the body language that asks the Japanese equivilent of ‘you’re sure you know what you’re doing?’ I wave. They wave back. Our mutual acknowledge of each other’s presence, my heavy pack and the fact that I’m dressed head to toe in full rain gear is an outward affirmative. They are still staring in my direction as I turn away to start climbing the narrow trail. The rain kick it up a notch and the thunder rolls in.

A country where the population is largely squashed onto whatever flat land exists – take two steps off the beaten track and it’s just you, the mountain and whatever hopes and fears you start out with.

And so it is for the day.