Yakushima Time

Satoshi Ichikawa / Yakushima Nature Activity Center (YNAC) Guide

Satoshi Ichikawa is active as a guide at the Yakushima Nature Activity Center (YNAC).

Born in Kyoto, Mr. Ichikawa attended junior and senior high school in Kobe, near Mt. Rokko and the Inland Sea. He then attended a university in Hokkaido, far in the north of Japan.

Mr. Ichikawa’s first visit to the island of Yakushima was in 1989, as an employee of the national government’s Environment Agency. After completing a 3-year term on the island, he returned to a desk job in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo. He missed the ocean, mountains and river – the life on Yakushima – and decided to quit his job. This decision may have been influenced by the years in his youth spent in close proximity to nature.

Back then, when a visitor stayed for more than three nights, islanders often wondered “Why are you still here when there’s nothing to do?” Tourism focused on the ancient Jomon cedar, and left out the ocean, rivers and pretty much everything else. Mr. Ichikawa decided to form a tour company that would “showcase not only the ancient Jomon cedar, but Yakushima’s other charms as well.”

While working as a guide as Yakushima has become increasingly popular with tourists, Mr. Ichikawa has also maintained a relationship with and worked on behalf of the local community. YNAC provides guides with an established reputation and given the wealth of their experience and knowledge, and their passion for the natural environment, a walk with one of these guides is sure to result in many discoveries.

In March 2017, the Mountain Environmental Conservation Donation Program was initiated by the town of Yakushima. For day hikes a donation of 1,000 yen per person is made and this money is used to help preserve and protect the environment. When a donation is made, the hiker receives a badge that can be used for discounts on guided tours, discounts at shops participating in the program, and a variety of other privileges. This program was initiated by people involved in Yakushima tourism who thought long and hard in the hopes of “becoming a model destination for eco-tourism in Japan.” They also want for people to know about their efforts to make life on Yakushima even better.