Do you see it, hiding the rocks? What does it look like? Is it an alien face, peering out? *cue spooky music*
How about this one? A shaggy camel perhaps?
And this lovely is most definitely a big crocodile! Can you see its mouth?
Look closely up to the top of the hill – can you spot the sleeping cat?
And what a cute lizard! Perfectly formed.
These are just some of the amazing rock formations that happen to look like animals at the Daisekirinzan National Park. The name, 大石林山、literally means Big Stone Woods Mountain, and is a fantastic natural wonder of limestones carved away by what scientists believe was 200 million years – yes you read that right, creationists! – of rain.
Considered a sacred spot by the original settlers of Okinawa, I can only imagine how it must have been thousands of years ago, walking through the dense jungles, and seeing the strange formations all around you. Today it is part of a national park and has well laid out trails and walk ways. However, it still remains a spiritual place where people come to pray at the ‘power spots’. I myself made sure to walk through Reincarnation Rock which, if you walk through three times, you receive ‘another life’.
Daisekirinzan is also home to a forest of giant gajumaru, which is the Okinawa word for banyan trees. This one is the biggest in Japan. The locals believe that a forest spirit called a Kijimuna lives in the gajumaru trees.
These were the views from the Ocean View Trail. You could see some islands that belong to Kagoshima prefecture, some 25 kilometres away.
There are three walking trails, and each one takes about 30 minutes. We first did the Wonder of Rocks Trail, and then the Ocean View Trail. After that you can take the shuttle bus back down to the parking lot, or walk through the Subtropical Forest Trail. I highly recommend you do all three because it is an easy walk downhill on the forest trail, and that is where all the big gajumaru are. It is incredibly beautiful and the views are very rewarding. Be sure to wear good shoes because those limestone rocks can be very hard on the feet!