Japan’s Natural Light Shows Photographed by Takehito Miyatake

takehito miyatake fireflies

Genji botaru fireflies around a small bridge over the Shimanto River (Kochi Prefecture) | © Takehito Miyatake click to enlarge

takehito miyatake fireflies

A flight of hime botaru fireflies light up the forest to create a dreamy, fairytale-like spectacle

Japanese photographer Takehito Miyatake’s photos of magical firefly trails, glowing squid and awe-inspiring volcanic eruptions has recently won him Grand Prize at the 2014 Nikkei National Geographic Photo Awards. Miyatake’s long-exposure photography, which can last anywhere from 15 seconds to 30 minutes, captures what he describes as the “light of Japan.”

However, as it turns out, Miyatake’s profound reverence for the power of nature is rooted not in photography but in waka, a classical form of Japanese poetry.

takehito miyatake firefly squid

In spring, firefly squid (hotaru ika) rise 2000 feet to the surface of the water and offer a fleeting glimpse of their magical lights

In a recent interview with TIME, Miyatake described his connection between waka and nature photography:

Waka is a poem to express the scope of nature [by] using limited words since its birth in the eighth century in Japan. The method has been working beautifully and precisely to express nature with sympathy. I believe Waka is very similar to nature photography.

takehito miyatake volcano lightning

Volcanic lightning during the eruption of the Sakurajima volcano

It’s fascinating to hear Miyatake like his nature photography to poetry, and recalls this quote, which unfortunately I am unable to attribute: “The still photograph is to moving pictures what poetry is to prose – less comprehensive perhaps, less literal even, yet somehow capable of expressing a deeper truth.” Miyatake goes on:

When I photograph, a mystic feeling comes over me. I sometimes admire the mysterious legends that are a part of Japanese folklore that express a fear of nature. I believe Waka also intends to capture this sort of fear of the mystic beauty of nature.

takehito miyatake volcano stars

A long-exposure shot of the Showa crater, the most active volcano in Sakurajima, underneath the stars

takehito miyatake fireflies

The Milky Way glittering above the woods with the green lights of fireflies dancing in the foreground.

takehito miyatake Naruto strait

Scores of fishing rafts floating in the Uchino-umi highlighted by the light from the full moon.

takehito miyatake waterfall

The moon lights up a waterfall against geometric rock formations

takehito-miyatake sakurajima eruption

A close-up of the red-hot cinders erupting from the Showa crater on Sakurajima

takehito miyatake volcanic lightning

Volcanic lightning over the Sakurajima eruption.

1 Comment

  1. Awsome photography.nice

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