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Yakushima – Expo 2025: Live to Travel, Travel to Live


Yakushima is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and is best represented through Yakusugi, which are over 1,000-year old cedar trees that grow at altitudes ranging from 500 meters above sea level to mountaintops. With this precious wood, artisans craft Yakusugi chopsticks, and visitors can do so as well. Under the guidance of these artisans, guests select, carve, and polish wood to create their very own chopsticks while engaging in wordless dialogue with the Yakusugi. This experience offers visitors a valuable opportunity to feel the essence of both Yakushima’s nature and culture.

Local Insights

I, Shigeru Watanabe, was born in Tokyo, Japan. By chance, I became an apprentice to a Yakusugi cedar craftsman in 2001 and have inherited my master's passion in running my business. His main products are those that showcase the natural form of Yakusugi cedar, those crafted with a potter’s wheel, and accessories. We make a wide variety of products, from souvenirs to crafts, that cannot be found in other stores.

Yakushima and Expo 2025

This experience showcases the importance of protecting and preserving Yakushima’s nature, which provides people with abundant blessings, and thus, leads to the Expo theme, “Saving Lives.”

Q1: How does this attraction bring tourists and locals together?

A: We, as artisans, can introduce the history and stories of Yakushima and Yakusugi from our perspective, having moved to Yakushima and discovered its charm for ourselves. We are capable of conducting the experience in English and prepared an English instruction manual to eliminate communication barriers during our interactions. However, we believe that actions speak louder than words, and we hope that through hands-on experiences, visitors can make their own discoveries and share their thoughts. We encourage you to feel the warmth and uniqueness of Yakusugi through the experience of making chopsticks.

Q2: What kind of impressions have you got from visitors?

A: Visitors have found the chopstick-making process enjoyable and were able to carve effectively through mindful concentration. We've also received feedback about the calming scent of Yakusugi cedar, and many have shared their joy in creating original chopsticks and expressed how carving the Yakusugi cedar themselves deepened their understanding of Yakushima.

Q3: Any message for visitors planning to see Expo 2025?

A: Please visit Japan and fully enjoy the charm of Yakushima. Through local experiences and interactions with locals, you can create wonderful memories, encounter new people, and deepen your understanding of the area. We sincerely await your visit.

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