Trail at Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine.

Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine: The Magical Forest of Princess Mononoke

Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine.

Princess Mononoke, or “Spirit/Monster Princess” is an epic anime historical fantasy from 1997. It was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine. | JoshBerglund19

It was produced by Toshio Suzuki and Studio Ghibli was responsible for bringing the film to life. Released in the U.S. in 1999, the film was a critical and commercial hit and was the highest-grossing film in Japan of 1997, and the highest-grossing in Japan of all time until the film Titanic was released later that same year.

View from the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine.The setting of “Princess Mononoke” was during the late Muromachi period (about 1336 to 1573) of Japan combined with some elements of fantasy. The story follows the adventures of the young Emishi  prince Ashitaka as he gets entangled in the struggle between the gods of a forest and humans who squander its resources.

The Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine (白谷雲水峡, Shiratani Unsuikyō) was the inspiration for the magical forest of “Princess Mononoke.”

At the ravine. | JoshBerglund19

The  forest is in Yakushima (one of the Ōsumi Islands in Kagoshima Prefecture), a green, lush nature park with a number of islands growing with ancient cedar trees like Kugurisugi, Yayoisugi, and Nidaiosugi.

Trail at the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine.A network of hiking trails runs along the forest’s ravine. Several recommended paths vary in length, from a short one hour to a five-hour trek. You can also wander off  and explore on your own, choosing your own trail. There are different trekking trails for everyone to try, from beginners to avid trekkers. There is a historic footpath from the Edo Period; English signs are also posted all throughout the paths.

Trail at the ravine. | JoshBerglund19

The Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine is a wonderful place to explore, not just for Princess Mononoke fans, but for all who wish to enter a magical forest. This is just one of the many wonders to experience when in Japan!