The Light Fantastic

Posted by on Dec 11, 2011 in Shimane, Travel Volunteer Journey | 7 Comments
The Light Fantastic

Light is a funny old thing. For around 25 years, I stumbled around with only a cursory concept of it: sometimes it was there, sometimes it was not; sometimes there was too much of it, sometimes not enough. I think this is how a lot of people are with light: they are aware of it, but they give it little attention.

When I met Katy, my understanding of light changed completely, because without light there can be no photography. And without good light, it is very, very hard to take good photographs. When I started listening to her, and watching the results of what happens when you play around with light, well it’s not exaggeration to say that my entire perception of the world changed.

Once you start paying attention to it, it can be very hard to stop. Suddenly, you start doing things like dangerously crossing the street because you’ve seen an interesting shadow; or nearly crashing a car because a sunset has turned a tree golden. If you’re not careful it can start to take over your life, but if you really look hard, and for a long time, you can see extraordinary light. In the last year, we’ve witnessed mad things, like the fabled green flash, and the equally scarce moonbow. In the past we’ve watched the aurora borealis (though never together, not yet).

 

Today, as we fought the bitter cold winds coming off the Japan Sea, we witnessed another of nature’s fantastic lights. We are on Nishinoshima, one of the distant Oki Islands that used to be visited en route to Korea. It’s a beautiful place that, as soon as I mentioned my nationality, people said has drawn comparison with Scotland’s west coast. And they’re right – the back side of this volcanic outcrop, along one of “the most scenic walks in Japan”, does indeed have beautifully haggard cliffs similar to those of my home land.

Unlike Scotland, though, the water here is superbly clear, and warm enough for swimming in the summer. That wasn’t possible today, not with a wind jetting from Siberia directly onto our numb faces. But the leaden sky wasn’t without merit. No, with a low winter sun, and the wind periodically breaking up the occlusion, we were treated to something quite unforgettable.

Our time in Shimane prefecture was made possible by:

Nicola Jones, everyone at the Nishinoshima tourism office for looking after us for two days and giving us the most unforgettable send-off we’ve ever have, featuring ticker-tape dangling over the side of our ferry. Felt like we were on a maiden voyage off to somewhere exotic. Not that Tottori isn’t exotic… Anyway, thank you one and all!

The Tsurumaru hotel and restaurant which very kindly put us up out of season. With tonnes of straight-from-the-sea fresh fish, beautiful wood cabins and gorgeous views across the bay, it was a real treat to spend a night there.

 

 

光とは不思議なものだ。25歳の頃の私は、光について基本的な概念しか持ち合わせていなかった。光とは射す時もあれば射さない時もある。あふれんばかりの光を受ける時もあれば、十分な光を得られない時もある。これはきわめて一般的な印象ではないだろうか。誰もがその存在を認識しているけれど、かといって特別注意を払う事もない。それが多くの人にとっての“光”なのだ。

だがケイティに出会って、私の光に対する考え方は180度変わった。なぜなら光がなければ写真は撮れないし、よい光がなければよい写真も撮れない。彼女の説に耳を傾け、そしてその“結果”を目にし、大げさではなく世界観が変わった。

そして一度光に固執すると、他のものが目に入らなくなってしまうのだ。興味深い影を撮ろうと突然道路に飛び出そうとしたり、夕陽に輝く木々を撮ろうとして車にぶつかりそうになったりなど、気をつけなければ命と引き換えることになりかねない。だが同時に注意深く見ていると、とてつもなく美しい光に出会える事がある。去年私達がグリーンフラッシュや月の虹、そしてオーロラに出会うという幸運に恵まれたように。

今日私達は日本海に吹く冷たい風と闘いながら、ここ島根県隠岐諸島に浮かぶ美しい西ノ島で、奇跡的に美しい自然の光に出会う事ができた。西ノ島の人々に私がスコットランドから来たと言うと、みなこぞって西ノ島とスコットランドの西海岸を比べ始める。確かに火山に近く、美しい岩壁があるところなどは、私の故郷のそれと非常に似ているものがある。ただここの海はスコットランドと違って澄んでおり、夏場であれば海水浴にはもってこいらしい。もちろんシベリアからの冷気が顔を刺す今日は泳ぐことなんて不可能だが・・・。

だが灰色の空はそんなに悪いものでもなかった。むしろ強い風が雲を押しのけた空は、低い位置にある冬の太陽が照らし出す、まさに息をのむような美しい光に包まれていた。

島根県の滞在でお世話になった皆様

ニコラ・ジョーンズさんはじめ西ノ島観光協会の皆様、2日間お世話になり本当にありがとうございました。そして出発の時には忘れられないお見送りを頂き心より御礼申し上げます。船からテープを垂らして見送ってもらうなんて、どこかエキゾチックな場所に旅に出るかのような気持ちになりました。(鳥取県がエキゾチックではないという意味ではありません、苦笑)本当にお世話になりありがとうございました。

隠岐シーサイドホテル鶴丸さんとレストランの皆様、本当にお世話になりました。獲れたてのおいしい海の幸と快適なお部屋、そして美しい眺め。素晴らしい滞在を堪能させていただきました。本当にありがとうございました。

7 Comments

  1. Nicola Jones
    December 11, 2011

    Thank you for allowing me to show you around Nishinoshima…and to re-discover the wonders of light, winter sun, cold wind and delicious Oki food. May the light always shine on both of you!

  2. Yukako Kawai
    December 12, 2011

    I was happy to spend a short time with you.
    Enjoy the last 2 weeks and christmas in Japan !

  3. Eric
    December 12, 2011

    That last picture is now on my desktop wallpaper!

    Very relaxing sight…

    Cheers Katy for the great pictures and Jamie for the intersting insight in to your past & present “perception of light”!

  4. mic_home
    December 12, 2011

    The photos are very beautiful, I like the 2nd from the top, it’s a little bit scary.

  5. だるまや
    December 12, 2011

    ありがとう!

  6. Izumi in NYC
    December 12, 2011

    I accidentally fund this site, and I was amazed by the places you two have visited. I was in Japan right before the earthquake hit early this year, and I have not chance to go back there. I am planning to go back sometime next week and your blog will inspire the places we will visit. Thanks and great works.

  7. Mikari
    December 12, 2011

    Wow, you make me feel so bad because I’m reading this with envy!
    (Sorry, I’m always like that when reading your blog.)

    Katy’s pictures and Jamie’s stories definitely enchant the Japanese readers, too.