2021 Spring - Summer - Journal #05 2021 Spring - Summer - Journal #05

八幡暁 - 手漕屋素潜店 ちゅらねしあ、グレートシーマン Satoru Yahata - Churanesia Dive Shop, Great Seaman





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On the way out of New Ishigaki Airport, I was greeted by the softly-scented and humid sea breeze. I drove my car through an overwhelming scenery of an overhead tree canopy and a plethora of bushes bearing bright, shiny fruit.

My subject today is Satoru Yahata. He is a man connected to the sea, be it freediving, in a sea kayak, or as a guide in the Yaeyama Islands. His words awaken me to the fact we may fall into the craw of society without noticing, and the importance of feeling truly alive.

2021 Spring - Summer - Journal
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Interview 「『自分がしたいからする』からわかること」

2005年、沖縄県石垣島へと移住した八幡さんは「手漕屋素潜店 ちゅらねしあ」を設立。石垣島、西表島、小浜島といった美しい島々をフィールドとして、自分の身体や豊かな自然と向き合う、様々なアウトドアツアーをアレンジしている。

「『身の丈+10cm』の経験、というのを大切にしています。普段、誰でも何かしらの枠組みの中で生きていますよね? 枠の外には無限の広がりがあるはずなのに、未知ゆえになかなかみんな外側へ出ようとはしない。だから僕たちはそういう、枠からちょっとだけ出る体験というのをやっているんです。ツアーを通じて自然を好きになってもらうだけじゃなくて、自分の殻から出てみたら今までとは違う世界が見えたとか、小さな成功体験そのものを持ち帰ってもらいたいなと」。



Interview “Follow your passion, go with the flow”

Yahata moved to Ishigaki Island, Okinawa in 2005 and opened the Churanesia Paddler and Dive Shop. He arranges outdoor adventure tours of various kinds that bring visitors into natural settings across the beautiful isles of Ishigaki, Iriomote, and Kohama.

“We are big on ‘comfort zone +10cm’ experiences. Normally we all live within a certain framework, right? Even though what lies beyond the frame is infinite, it is the great unknown, and therefore, we do not try to go out there. That is why we are creating experiences for people to just step out of the zone a little. Not only do we want our guests to discover a love of nature through our tours, but we also want them to go home with some little achievements from coming out of their shell and seeing a world that is different from anything they have seen before.”

It is the fashion these days for tours to be highly Instagrammable or package tours of the major sights, but Yahata just said, “That is not what I would call being a guide.”

“Whatever activity it is, some people may not find it to be anything new, while others could find it a cruel and unusual punishment that actually scares them. Everyone is different, so you have to take each person as they come. The ‘comfort zone +10cm’ experience we strive to offer is like standing on your tippy-toes with your heels slightly off the ground. It is hard to break out of your frame right away, but if someone says they want to jump, we will get them jumping. I believe this is the job of a guide.”




食事に限らず、物事の過程を知る大切さを改めて考えさせられる。「スーパーで買ってきた物を家で食べるのとは、やっぱり全然違うんだよね。シーカヤックで海を渡るっていうのも、すごく面倒くさいじゃない? 風を読んだり、星も覚えなきゃいけない。でもそうやって海との向き合い方を知ると、自分にとってかけがえのない存在になる。ちゃんと暮らしに海が密接していれば、絶対にみんな、この海を守りたいんだって気持ちになりますよ。それは海だけではなく、山も同じ。だって山がなくなっちゃったら、僕たちの身体が作れなくなっちゃうんだから」。

Yahata is full of deep tales about the daring deeds involved in paddling from Australia to Japan by sea kayak, such that we do not have the space for them here. He wanted to find out about life and the life of the people of the sea, so he put his kayak and his diving skills to use and crossed the ocean. He has not ventured out on a long voyage in a few years now, but he said people often ask why not. “I do sense a social trend that you have no value if you do not keep doing incredible things. In doing the voyage, I realized that I was ‘living the life of the sea’, and I am still living that life, so there is no reason for me to continue with such adventures. I am thankful to be living where I can see the ocean from my house, I can go out fishing and bring back food for my family who tells me it is delicious. This is good. That is what I learned on my trip.”

When I see Yahata paddling on the water, you sense that the sea kayak is part of him, that he is at one with the ocean. The sea is emerald green and crystal clear. The water was calm and the cries of the seabirds were frequent. Suddenly, I thought Yahata had disappeared over the horizon, but he was on the beach with two fish in hand. “These fish are everywhere. The taste of Okinawa.” As we talked, he deftly fillets his catch. He served up some sashimi on an upturned shell he finds on the beach nearby. The fat chunks had a delicious, firm texture.

“I like sports too, but nothing satisfies me more than that moment of using my body to catch food. I have a memory from when I was about four, when my father took me back to his family in Hokkaido. He dived into the cold sea and gathered some sea urchin and mussels. We ate them on the beach, and they were delicious. I remember crying because I did not want to go home. Seeing the whole process from gathering the food to eating it, it probably translated to the flavor and my emotions.”

This made me think again about the importance of understanding the whole process, not just of the food we eat but of all things. “It is completely different from buying something at the supermarket and eating it at home. It is a big hassle to cross the sea by kayak too, isn’t it? You have to analyze the wind and memorize the stars, but once you learn how to handle being at sea, it becomes an invaluable presence. If you live really close to the ocean, you will definitely understand the need to protect it. It is no different for the forest and mountains. If they did not exist, we could not physically exist either.”



Although at first glance, he appeared to lead a rather austere lifestyle; he eats snacks, plays computer games with his kids, and reads the latest manga comics. “That is because we do not lead a primitive life. It is fascinating to see what kids out there are entertained by.”

When it comes to shopping, they only buy durable products. “Clothes have to be quick-drying. If they rip or tear, we sew them up immediately and keep wearing them. This is the first time I have tried on Icebreaker, and it is very nice and comfortable. When I wear the merino wool shirt, my four-year-old son comes and touches it, so it clearly feels different.”



Listening to Yahata, all the choices seem to make sense and all thoughts seem sound. What was it that led him to such a worldview and lifestyle? “I first became clearly aware of it as a university student. I thought, ‘Stop trying to decide on one thing or the other’. Whether it was money or social status, the big thing was to forget about those kinds of win-or-lose games and calculations. As a rule, everyone makes the choice that brings them the most gain. But I decided to choose what I loved. It is so dull that even though each of us loves and enjoys different things, we end up choosing the same path based on the standard. That is not an environment in which our unique qualities can emerge.”

When we are making a choice, we tend to seek an appropriate justification or meaning for it, but Yahata’s attitude is always to keep it simple: “I will do it because I want to. Humans are not exceptional creatures. We are no different from the crows over there. We make the best of our lives. We take the lives of fish, but when we die, we just go back into the sea. There is no meaning to life on Earth. We are just living because we were born as living creatures. That is why you should do what you want to do. It is the same with work. Do what you find to be enjoyable and when it helps someone, you will be fulfilled like never before. That is why I think being a guide is the job for me.”

八幡暁 - 手漕屋素潜店 ちゅらねしあ、グレートシーマン

八幡暁 / 東京都出身。大学時代、八丈島での漁師との出会いをきっかけに、海で生きる人の暮らしに惹かれ始める。そしてバックパックに銛と足ヒレだけを持って世界の海を旅する中で、シーカヤックに巡り合い、オーストラリアから日本までの多島海域を人力で航海する「グレートシーマンプロジェクト」を2002年より開始。2005年には沖縄県石垣島に移住し「手漕屋素潜店 ちゅらねしあ」を設立したほか、現在も様々な活動を通じて、海で生きる人々の知恵や自身の体験を伝え続けている。

Satoru Yahata / Born in Tokyo. He began to dream of a life of the sea after a chance encounter with a fisherman on Hachijojima Island in his student days. As he was traveling the oceans of the world with nothing more than a backpack, a speargun, and flippers, he came across sea kayaks. In 2002, he started the Great Seaman Project to cross from Australia to Japan via the islands of the western Pacific by unpowered craft. Yahata moved to Ishigaki Island, Okinawa in 2005 and opened the Churanesia Dive Shop, and today, he continues to share the wisdom of those who live from the ocean and his own experiences through a range of different activities.

2021年5月21日(金) May 21, 2021

写真: 山田薫 文章: 藤本麻子

Photographer: Kaoru Yamada Text: Asako Fujimoto