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  • PAPERSKY #08 OGASAWARAPHOTOGRAPHY: PAPERSKY

The Ogasawara Islands are Tokyo’s Paradise

, 2004/01/25

To get to the islands of Ogasawara we departed on a 25 hour trip by boat from Tokyo proper. The journey had the undertones of something old world: long, arduous, and sea-oriented. As we cut through the enormous swells of the open ocean, I imagined that our boat was a time capsule in which we were traveling further and further away from the screaming modernity that is 21st century Tokyo, towards some previous place.

After a full day of travel we awoke in the early morning to find on the horizon the silhouettes of little gray mountains jutting above the surface of the ocean ‘ It was strange to see land so suddenly. And as the topography came into focus, it too was strange: sharp, rocky gradations covered in lush vegetation pushing straight up out of the water. I felt that we had arrived somewhere completely new, far removed from our quotidian realities.

On our first day, at our first location on Hahajima, our camera failed after one shot. “Too much salt in the air,” we were later told. A bit discouraged but at the mercy of the island’s complete geographic isolation, we continued to shoot on a digital backup until dark. The tourist office placed a few phone calls the next morning, and in a matter of hours a friendly resident photographer appeared with a camera for us to use:  a camera that our photographer uses quite often as a matter of fact. It was an odd coincidence, but one befitting a place that often ran contrary to our notions of the norm.

On Chichijima, we met surfers who had lived on the island during the occupation and shopped from Sears catalogs. In the jungles of Hahajima we stumbled upon forts, canons and tanks from the war, and later found a police station where you can borrow videos and books. “In case you don’t feel like diving,” said the officer with a smile. Island life was beginning to feel a bit cinematic. On our final day, as we pulled away from the lush islands on our way back to the mainland, I wondered if Ogasawara was not a close approximation of my ideals. Some modern place, from a long time ago.

PAPERSKY #08: OGASAWARA | paradise

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