The words of Kaijin Akashi, legendary pre-war poet and resident (patient) of this island, were familiar to me as the motto of a well-known cultural figure. That individual was the late film director Nagisa Oshima. These words had a great impact on me in my twenties when, although having determined to pursue a future in creative expression, I struggled yet to find sure footing.
They had since lodged deeply in the back of my mind and remained there, dormant. Holding those reawakened words close to my heart, I visited the island every four years thereafter to continue shooting photographs. The preface to Kaijin Akashi’s collection of poems ‘Hakubyo’ closes with the following lines: Cut off from the human world, I came to understand it; and severed from the bounds of flesh, I learned to trust love. And when sight was taken from me, I saw lush mountains and lofty clouds rise before my mind’s eye. Leprosy was divine revelation as well. I walked through the island searching, in its buildings and scenery, for the traces and presence of those lamenting poets (patients).
Written & Photographed by Atsushi Fujiwara