Home  >  Magazine  >  Issue 17 : July/Aug 2007  > Columns  >  High Tide  >  Space from the Sea


High Tide

By Mitsuharu Kume

Space from the Sea


Space is represented below the water’s surface in many ways. When you strap on your air tank and dive in, there’s a feeling in the endless blue of “zero gravity” similar to space. The dark depths of the sea are light years closer to us than the far reaches of the universe, yet there remain a myriad of underwater mysteries. The sea is the birthplace of life on earth, just as space is the birthplace of earth itself. There must be something tying the two together.

It might seem a bit overly poetic to say we humans live in the space between the heavens and the seas. However, it’s interesting how our curiosity leads us to dive the deepest seas, fly to the greatest heights, ascend the tops of mountains and enjoy the benefits of gravity as we make tracks down white-capped mountains.

I’ve always favored the rising and falling of the sea’s peaks – these waves on the surface of the ocean world. Waves come in all different sizes, but all are filled with the winds and tides. The photography of that moment in time, when the waves change with the shoreline below; that peaks my interest.

You place yourself within the ocean, feel the tidewater on your skin, note the glistening of the sun on the ocean’s surface and wrap yourself in the warmth. It’s as if you’re back in the womb – a feeling reminding us we are animals that evolved from the ocean.

Because Japan is an island nation, we have been living off the fruits of the sea for ages. To the fisherman, the rise and fall of the tide bears great influence on one’s daily life. In fact, the “old calendar,” or lunar calendar, was used exclusively until relatively recently and still often appears on modern calendars. Festivals are often based on the lunar dates.

My occupation for the past 15 years has been a fisherman harvesting the sea, yet surfing has been my passion for 20 years. My life is intertwined with the ocean and, therefore, I pay close attention to the lunar calendar. This important relationship between the moon and earth brings the idea of “space” into my every-day existence. The sea and the skies are joined at the hip.

Japanese fisherman of yesteryear said in good times, “Ageshiojya, ageshiojya” (“It’s high tide!”). With global warming causing the sea levels to rise, the saying may not carry such a good connotation. But, when I think about how far we’ve come in recent times and the effort many people are putting into protecting the earth, I like the sound of “high tide.”