A small island off the coast of Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Japan that became Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yakushima has mountain peaks 1,000 meters or higher and is thus nicknamed “the Alps of the Ocean.” About 90% of the island is covered by virgin forests, which emit an air of sacredness and are known to have inspired the creation of the internationally successful animated film “Princess Mononoke” by Studio Ghibli. The most popular activity in Yakushima is a 22-kilometer 10-hour round trekking trip to the Jomonsugi, a giant cedar tree estimated to be at least a few thousand years old. After a long walk on the trail, we finally reached the Jomonsugi site. It took more than a dozen of us holding hands to surround its massive trunk – so awestriking that it’s well worth the muscle ache afterwards.