Please check out my photo essay in Wingspan if you happen to ride an International flight with Japanese carrier All Nippon Airlines (ANA) this month.
The text below is the first original caption draft for this essay, if you read the printed version you'll see that things have been trimmed and with a slight beauty polish. Click HERE for the story behind the essay. This being one of my favorite as a freelance photographer.
--- MIKURAJIMA, Ocean and Forest ---
On June 4, 1863, the American ship Viking ran up on the rocky beach of Mikura Is. All 500 lives were saved and the island got a name in the history books. It’s easy to imagine how the small island with it’s steep cliffs and deep forests were like 146 years ago. Even though, the island still remains hidden from the world and except for the small village of about 300 permanent residents, the island is untouched and as wild as ever. With only one exposed sea port, the elements dictate and shape the way of life out here. Only the most persistent visitor will go that extra step to be able to reach this true green oasis in the deep blue.
Mikura Island means dolphins for most. But the contrast between the almost rainforest deep woods couldn’t be further away. An untouched and protected forest of giant Sudajii trees (Japanese Chinquapin) covers the island. The biggest refers to “Mikurashima-no-ojii”, 13.8 meters around it’s trunk makes it the largest in Japan, a true jewel in the eco world of the islands. Half hidden burrows dots the densely vegetated forest floor, home to the spectacular Streaked Shearwater seabird. This is the largest nesting site in the world. Spending all day at sea but always finding it’s way back to it’s hidden nest among the vegetation just after sunset.
Approaching Mikura Is and to see the Streaked Shearwater speeding between the waves as the Island comes into view on the horizon gives you a feeling that you are far from anything, a forgotten green rock in the middle of nowhere. But it’s only a couple of hours by ferry to the closest neighbor, Mijake Island or Hajioji Island and not more than 200km from Tokyo, the biggest city on the planet. The never ending Pacific Ocean is overwhelming, it shapes the Island into a lush cloud clad oasis with an unique flora and fauna. People come from the mainland to swim with the famous bottle nosed dolphins during the last summer months. An almost complete absence in contact between the local islanders and the dolphins has made it a safehaven for these curious neighbors. Constantly patrolling the rocky coast, the true locals of Mikura Jima.