Industry and agriculture
The warm climate in Yakushima allows fruit tree cultivation such as Ponkan orange, Tankan mandarin and Passion fruits. The collection of cargo and shipments of these fruits are performed by whole household during the harvest time from November to March. In addition, the vegetable farm products such as turmeric and zedoary are raw materials of a digestive medicine that has been on the drug market for many years. The rich soil in Yakushima has also made tea industry prosperous. Finally, by utilizing the fresh water and potatoes, the productions of Shochu (distilled clear liquor) thrives in Yakushima.
The fishery of mackerel in Issou (village at the north end of the island) and flying fish in Anbo (southeast village) are prosperous. The Yakushima fishermen’s cooperative association is proud to be the best in Japan for the quantity of flying fish they catch each year. “Kubiore mackerel” (literally means broken-neck mackerel) is famous and can be eaten as sashimi. Their name comes from the fact that their necks are snapped immediately after they have been caught in order to drain blood and maintain freshness. Dried and smoked mackerels called “Saba-bushi” are also popular. They are produced in Issou and Yoshida area and it is a special product that represents Yakushima. “Tsuki-age (Satsuma-age)” is also a renown dish which is the deep fried flying fish after it has been mashed into a paste.
In Yakushima, there are three hydroelectric power stations run by Yakushima-Denko that supplies nearly 100% of the electricity required on the island. This is possible because of the abundance of water resources. The company also produces silicon carbide for abrasives, fireproof products, fine ceramics and engineering semiconductors.
Various “eco-tourism” is carried out at the mountains, sea and villages. It is based on the concept of establishing sustainable sightseeing grounds under the maintenance and appropriate management of local resources and nature. Thanks to the contribution of local promotion, there are approximately 200 guides that have been enrolled in the Yakushima Guide Association that promotes eco-tourism. Tourism is an important industry that supports the employment of islanders.
Arts and Crafts
The Yakusugi cedar crafts are made from “domaiboku” (stumps or naturally fallen trees of Yakusugi cedar). Direct sun rays are shut out for most of the domaiboku and they are kept in a natural environment of untouched forests that has a high humidity level. Therefore, even if the surface has decayed, the rich resin inside does not perish. Much to the contrary, the hue of the cedar becomes beautiful over time, allowing skilled craftsmanship to be performed. There are many masterpieces that won prizes. Yakusugi crafts range from tables and vases to chopstick rests and small accessories. Finally, accessories that utilizes sea shells, such as “turbo” or “black lips, ” are handcrafted according to craftsman’s original technique and are sold as products for souvenirs.