Yakushima Time

Shinya Itoh / Physical Therapist

Shinya Itoh, who loved to play out in nature even as a child, works as a physical therapist in a hospital in Miyanoura, the biggest town on Yakushima. Mr. Itoh was born in Kagoshima prefecture (where Yakushima is located) and grew up in Mie prefecture (on the island of Honshu). Mr. Itoh moved to Yakushima when he was 28 years old.

Mr. Itoh came to Yakushima thinking “I won’t know what this place is like until I live here.” As a traveler visiting the island, he had only been to the places he found in guidebooks and played in the ocean. Now that he is living on Yakushima, he has found a new way to look at this world and even the places that are in the guidebooks. As a year-round resident, Mr. Itoh is pleased to be able to visit the unusual, little-known and stunningly beautiful places he learns about from his fellow islanders.

“At such moments I feel true happiness to be living here.”

“Yakushima is crammed full of things I want to do.”

As a physical therapist, Mr. Itoh has often come across physically challenged people who are not comfortable out in public. This past year, he has been working to remove impediments that make places inaccessible to the physically challenged. When he hears people say “I want to go to Yakushima, but it’s impossible because I can’t walk”, he hopes that they will be able to visit the island more easily and enjoy its nature. With such people in mind, he is now sharing information on the Internet with regard to wheelchair-friendly restrooms and beautiful locations that are accessible without hiking.

“I hope everyone can visit Yakushima.”

As a physical therapist and an islander who fully enjoys his life here, this is a sentiment that comes naturally to Mr. Itoh.