Recently back on the diving scene, I have been lucky enough to have had some cracking dives across in the Mediterranean sea off Cyprus , Lebanon , Italy , Ibiza and latterly the infamous UK North Sea ! So what better way to fill my weekends on a month-long working trip out to Japan than to hunt down some undersea adventure in the Pacific ocean. And man !! … I sure wasn’t disappointed with what I found ……
After hours of research on the internet I decided Kushimoto was the place to be and as luck would have it I was working less than 100 miles North of there. A wreck called the Stellar Polaris looked very interesting but my February/March dates coincided with some very strong and exceptionally dangerous ocean currents so I was to look elsewhere. Finding good information was a nightmare, It was scarce on the ground and even harder to find in the English language. My Japanese may be good enough for ordering a tasty Ramen but for nailing down technical dive lingo it certainly is not ! So I posted on the Osaka/Kansai Diving club website and I hit the jackpot when David Graham CEO of Fourth Element dive equipment got in touch. A real cool and very helpful guy indeed, he put me on to the Mr Miyagi of Japanese diving Akihiko Tanimai … What this fellow hasn’t dived isn’t worth diving and he even hooked me up with a stay at his legendary diving hostel, the Bayside Inn , full of fellow divers and right on the harbour to boot .. Aces !!
The trip finally arrived and soon I jumped on the train for a 3 hour trundle South through beautiful Japanese countryside and coast to the Kushimoto station. Aki was waiting for me and after a short tour of the town we headed straight down to the dive centre. Time to sort out equipment and dive plans, the weather on the coast was wet and windy but Aki was keen to get me in the water. After a cup of sweet tea and a few tales of what to expect in the Pacific ocean (sharks, hungry ones) I met Nakajima who was also to accompany me on my first dive exploring the undersea pinnacles of Kushimoto point, the most southerly point of the Japanese mainland. We geared up and headed for the famous Nanki Seaman’s club. A dive centre, boat charter hub and a staging point for many famous south Japan explorations.
The boat was ready and we loaded the gear onboard…. out to sea we went, in what can only be described as an “interesting” conditions. After 30 minutes of literally bashing our way across the ocean we arrived at the dive site. The dive boat was pitching wildly and I wondered whether we would be diving at all but Nakajima sat calmly on the edge in a kind of side-saddle position and dropped into the water on the lowest point of the pitch.. Oh well fingers crossed, when in Rome (Japan) 🙂 I rapidly descended to 6 metres, just below the swell where the sea was much calmer, met up with Nakajima to start our descent. Dropping a further 40 metres down into the darkening Pacific we had reasonable visibility even with the swell above. We started our exploration of the pinnacle and after a brief stint in a large dark cavern , ascending slightly to check out some amazing rock structures and marine life. Over the course of our dives that day I managed to see many new sea creatures that I had never encountered before and I was elated to see a Shark Ray which can only be seen in the early months of the year so my timing was perfect !
My trip later saw me explore several other great dive sites and I had the pleasure of meeting many, many very friendly and accommodating Japanese divers. I also stood goggle eyed at some “out of this world” camera and video equipment that certainly put my Go-pro to serious shame 😀 😀
Kushimoto was exceptionally beautiful with a coast-line that will make your jaw drop. A fantastic place to visit and spend time, not just for the diving but for the scenery, culture and especially the people. . I will let the rest of my pictures do the talking ….