Natural Diversity and Butterflies
Yakushima, the island located in the south of Japan was designated a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 1993. And also its virgin forest is famous for where the movie “Princess Mononoke” took place. Every year, many travelers from all over the world are coming to enjoy its great nature. We focus on the culture and people living on this wonderful island and deliver it by videos.
―”Our human brains internalize various messages but going into the forest and seeing the wonderfulness of creatures doing their utmost to live their lives is special, and this energy of life is something that you will definitely take away with you.” -Kenichiro Mogi
Neuroscientist Kenichiro Mogi talks about the enchantment of Yakushima
Presented by Yakushima Broadcasting Station
Butterflies in Yakushima
I actually became a neuroscientist when I was about 30.
Until then I studied physics and before I did physics, back when I was in elementary school, I was always researching butterflies.
I joined and did research with the Butterfly Society of Japan, which studies butterflies and moths, while in elementary school.
My mother was born in Kyushu, and I always travelled around many places from Hokkaido to Kyushu on fieldwork to pursue butterflies. Therefore, even when I come to Yakushima, I want to see butterflies first. You’re all probably familiar with the great orange tip butterfly. Are you familiar with the common map butterfly?
Surprisingly there are not so many species of insects in the mountains. Places like this, where people and nature meet, are a rich environment with lots of species of insects.
Here’s one. This is an adult insect which hibernates to get through the winter. This is an angled sunbeam butterfly. Novices may not notice it. We know at once, it’s a butterfly.
Look! I wonder if it will move. Look! It flew away!
Ha ha (Laughs). Sorry, I woke you up from your sleep. Its reactions were fast just now, weren’t they?
Depth of the biodiversity
Yakushima is registered as a natural world heritage site.
That’s to say, it is truly a wonderful island full of great natural diversity. If you are going about your regular life on the island, I don’t think you would realize the extent of the rich diversity of species here.
For example, suppose we wanted to find out the extent of the diversity here. For insects, where do they live and in which season? What plant species there are?
What types of birds are flying around the island, and what mammal species are there? There may be monkeys or deer. Just gathering the basic data would be difficult. In short, the biodiversity here, the greatest treasure of Yakushima, is so numerous and varied to the extent it’s difficult to measure.
I don’t mean that I dislike walking to the Jomonsugi (ancient cedar trees). However, as I’ve been saying from the start, from a point of view of experiencing the natural diversity here, this area is more than interesting enough.
When I came here I was asked, “Mr. Mogi, would you like to go and see the Yakusugi (giant cedar trees)?” I answered, “No thanks, I’m OK.” By Yakusugi I mean…
A little earlier I went missing. I was asked, “Where did you go?”
Just at the back over there, I walked about 20m from here into the forest. I was just looking around at the forest. It was great.
Various messages from the forest
As I just said, maybe a common map butterfly is flying about or maybe a common bluebottle butterfly is flying about. All the creatures are frantically going about their lives. All the creatures, each going about their lives for all they’re worth, is the most important message to take away from coming to the forest.
There are people here who have been alive for a number of years, right? Butterflies are really busy doing their utmost to suck nectar, find a male or female, lay eggs, and to try to avoid being eaten by birds, all in the week or so after they are born.
Our human brains internalize various messages but going into the forest and seeing the wonderfulness of creatures doing their utmost to live their lives is special, and this energy of life is something that you will definitely take away with you.