Hegurajima IslandPortfolio Travel Japan

The Island That Is not There
Photography and Text Luca Gabino

When I arrived at Hegurajima, the island was almost a desert; later, I discovered that the few people living there were all out fishing. While wandering around the small village of little wooden houses, I stopped on the beach at the southern end of the port, and there I saw, in the distance, a figure emerging from the sea and swimming towards the shore. I started running towards the spot where the figure swimming to; and I got to where a little concrete tongue enters the water, just in time to see a very old Ama arising from the sea and climbing up the bank with extreme fatigue. I helped her to transport the spoils of the day— 3 big abalones, a dozen shells, that here in Japan are called Sazae, and some sea urchins— until the three-wheel bicycle, which was her only mean of transport as well as the only mean of the Island, where there were neither cars nor any other motor vehicle, except boats.
It was incredible to see how old that lady was, who told me that she had just spent three hours diving into the sea to look for shells. A tiny lady, older than 80, who was almost deaf and blind in one eye and who could barely walk, aided by a small trolley on which she leaned.


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