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Number 1 Shimbun

Ufuagari — The Daito Islands — A Monologue of North and South

No1-2018-03 7


Ufuagari — The Daito Islands — A Monologue of North and South

Photo exhibition by Masanori Ishibiki

Ufuagari means “The Great East” in the Okinawan dialect.

The Daito Islands are an archipelago consisting of three isolated islands: Minamidaito, Kitadaito and Okidaito. Situated 360 kilometers east of Naha, they remained uninhabited until 1900. They stand out from the other islands in the region in that they combine Okinawan nature with mainland Japanese culture. They offer wonderful scenes of untouched nature. The beauty of the ocean is indescribable. Moreover, they are strange islands, moving towards Okinawa Main Island at a rate of approximately 10 centimeters per year.

It was the summer of 2006 when I first visited the Daito Islands. They aroused in me a strange feeling of nostalgia, as if I had wandered into a world of déjà vu. Their natural beauty aside, what makes them truly stunning is the indomitable spirit of the people who live there.

I believe it is the role of photography to create a record of the times. Over the last 11 years, the natural features of the islands have remained unchanged but the lives of the people have become unrecognizable and I feel it is my destiny to capture this transformation through my photographs.

Watching the island’s sun as it sets, for some reason I am reminded of a scene from a person’s life. The sign for a small bar in the middle of the sugar cane fields can be seen vaguely through the gathering darkness as the island folk gather there to drink awamori, the local rice liquor, and recover from the day’s rigors. This is the scene that I wanted to see, it is the place where I wanted to be, and so I picked up my camera as I set out.

The Daito Islands. A Monologue of North and South

• Born 1954 in Toride City, Ibaraki Prefecture
• Graduated 1977 from the Department of Photography, Nihon University College of Art
• Subsequently studied under the photographer Shibuya Ryukichi
• Worked at Ishibiki Photo Studio from 1980
• “Isolated Islands Ufuagari” Exhibition, Naha Civic Gallery, 2011
• “Ufuagari Islands III” Exhibition, Yotsuya Portrait Gallery, 2015
• Retired from Ishibiki studio 2017 to become freelance: Ishibiki Masanori Photo Agency


Published in: March 2018

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