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    • Spring
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Into the Mystic

        While you probably won’t encounter an elusive river sprite in the highlands of the Northern Japan Alps, you may feel a bit lightheaded from the refreshing thin air, remarkable vistas and mystical aura of the mountains and valleys in Kamikochi.
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • Summer
      • Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...
        A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Autumn
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Winter
      • video

        Mad About Pow

        A powder pocket...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Shuzenji Sanctuary

        Nestled in the ...
    • Near Tokyo
      • Air it Out

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        Ark Hills Marche

        Tucked away in ...

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Summer Runs, Races & Tours

        Trail running is a great way to explore the beautiful nature of a country while getting away from the usual tourist spots.

        Tokyo Escapes: Summer Camping

        Tokyo summers can be stifling—luckily it’s easy to escape the city for a cool break from the heat.
    • Near Kyoto
      • A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Cycling Awaichi

        “Awaichi” is sh...
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...

        Air it Out

        There is no bet...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • River and Lake
      • Air it Out

        There is no bet...
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...

        Minakami Mofest

        Head up to Japan's outdoor mecca of Minakami for the country's biggest outdoor adventure festival!
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        All-Season Outdoor Playgr...

        Enter the all-season world of Shinetsu Shinzekyo in Nagano and Niigata with outdoor professionals
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • video

        Mad About Pow

        A powder pocket...

        The Reemergence of Arai

        Lotte Arai Resort will definitely become a hotspot for western skiers and boarders over the next few years.

        Tohoku Storm Chasing

        Just a few hours north of Tokyo by Shinkansen (bullet train) await remote mountains and the countryside of Tohoku’s Akita and Iwate prefectures.
    • Travel
      • Gravity-Defying Farming in Nishi Awa

        Discover the centuries-old secret behind what keeps southern Japan's mountains growing

        Up Market in Osaka

        There wasn’t mu...

        Return to Palau

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    • Food and Drinks
      • Gravity-Defying Farming in Nishi Awa

        Discover the centuries-old secret behind what keeps southern Japan's mountains growing

        Up Market in Osaka

        There wasn’t mu...

        Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...
    • Races and Events
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

Small Things in Big Places

Umi wa hiroi na, ookina, tsuki wa noboroshi, hi wa shizumu—“The ocean is wide and big; the moon rises, the sun falls.” Every Japanese knows these words to the children’s song “Umi” or “Sea.” It uses very short words but ones that really convey the image of the ocean.

On that great big ocean, there once was a sailboat (with me on board) searching for tiny turtle babies. A baby sea turtle is only about 10 centimeters long so, looking for one in the vastness of the ocean is not easy.

Loggerhead turtles hatch on sandy beaches in the middle of the night, head out to sea and swim off on a long journey to the seas off Mexico. I figured that, when they’re small, the turtles must hide among floating bits of seaweed or garbage and eat shellfish and other things attached to them.

So my strategy was, whenever I found bits of seaweed or garbage floating by, I would just jump into the ocean and start looking for them. But though I thought there would be a lot of seaweed and garbage floating in the ocean, I looked a lot and found very little.

Finding a single turtle turned out to be hard work. It did not matter how small the junk in the water was; as soon as I found it, I would jump in to take a look. Twenty, 30 times a day—but it did not matter how often I jumped in. I never found a baby turtle.

However, I did make a lot of new discoveries. Around that floating seaweed are schools of small fish which feed on it; around them are even larger fish and, circling below all of them, are fairly big fish.

If you go to catch or photograph the fish, they usually just swim away but, if I simply floated and acted like some new thing making a shadow, they would start to swim in. It was a pretty weird feeling, but it also opened a new world.

After a while, I found a long stretch where the sea currents come together. It was like a path paved by small, floating garbage. After about twenty minutes of swimming along in this area I saw, in front of me, something small and black, with great big feet, flapping in the water, not swimming very gracefully. I had found one—a baby loggerhead turtle. The shutter of my camera got a lot of work that day.

I went swimming in the vast ocean, and I found a little turtle. “If you don’t grow up fast,” I thought, “Some bird or fish is going to eat you. Gambare! gambare!” I was really excited; not something I feel often.

“A boat floating on the ocean; I want to sail off and see other countries,” Umi, continues. Age shio ja, ageshio ja—“it’s a rising tide,” the old saying goes, meaning things are going in the right direction.

Someday I will chase a little turtle all the way to Mexico.

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