Japan

Japan Underwater Photo Contest 2020 Winners

Gold Medal winner: "Survival," a photo capturing a butterflyfish feeding on spawning corals in Yakushima, Kagoshima
Gold Medal winner: "Survival," a photo capturing a butterflyfish feeding on spawning corals in Yakushima, Kagoshima

From October to Novem­ber of 2020, the Japan National Tourism Organ­ization (JNTO) held its second annual Japan Underwater Photo Contest, seeking photos taken by divers that showcase the undiscovered beauty and artistry of diving in Japan to the world.

Lockdown Local Diving

Photo by Kate Jonker: Speckled klipfish at Pinnacle dive site in Gordon’s Bay, South Africa

As many divers face travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, our contributors highlight the often overlooked or unsung yet intriguing diving that can be found in one's own backyard.

Japan's Hachijō-jima

Wrought iron and Japanese butterflyfishes forming a loose shoal, Hachijō-jima, Japan. Photo by Richard Smith.

Japan’s diving scene used to be a well-kept secret, but more and more people have realised that Japan has much more to offer than just sushi and karaoke. The country spans a vast latitudinal range, from the tropical south where coral reefs dominate around Okinawa and the other Ryukyu Islands, into the almost subarctic north. As a result, its biological diversity is great, with many different habitats accommodating a wide array of species.

Japan's Miyakojima

Miyako Island abounds with macro subjects, like this Phyllidia varicosa nudibranch photographed with a snoot. Photo by Martin Voeller.

Year 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has confronted the world with an unprecedented situation. Many countries went into lockdown, and as a result, many people were forced to stay indoors, including myself in Japan. Although Japan never went into an official “lockdown”—it instead went into a so-called state of emergency—I could not wait to get out of the Tokyo metropolis as soon as restrictions were lifted.

USS Grayback, a U.S. Navy submarine lost in 1944 to enemy air attack, has been found.

Wreck of World War II submarine USS Grayback discovered off Japan

The submarine was found by the Lost 52 Project, which locates lost U.S. World War II submarines, and is the first U.S. submarine discovered off the coast of Japan. Japanese records indicate that the sub was sunk by a 500-pound bomb dropped by a naval bomber in February 1944.

1856 Advertisement depicting a whale hunt.

Japan to resume whale hunt

Japans announcement that it is withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission and will resume commercial whale hunting next year, have sparked swift condemnation from other governments and conservation groups. For many years Japan has hunted whales for what it calls "scientific research" and to sell the meat, a programme widely criticised by conservationists.

Okinawa

Okinawa—simply saying the name has so many connotations. The island itself is huge, and yet it’s an oceanic island far from the Asian continent. It takes two and half hours to fly from Hong Kong, the closest point on mainland China, to get here.