PHOTOS: Nature photographer Takehito Miyatake puts Japan in new light

A small, low bridge* over the Shimanto River, known as the last crystal clear river in Japan. In the early summer twilight, genji botaru fireflies (Luciola cruciate) fly exuberantly over the river surface. With paddy fields along the river, the sight represents an image of a countryside where people and nature coexist. *Note: This rail-less bridge is designed to withstand submersion in case of flood, a device to accommodate the contingencies of nature.
Credit: Takehito Miyatake

Through his use of color and light, nature photographer Takehito Miyatake celebrates the magical beauty of Japan’s landscape.

It’s commonly known as the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, but judging by these captivating photos of the country, Japan is an enchanting place of zipping fireflies, sparkling squid and volcanic lightning.

In his vivid images ranging from the erupting Sakurajima volcano to a bridge surrounded by the glow of fireflies in flight, photographer Takehito Miyatake explores the interplay between what he describes as the “light of Japan” and the natural landscape, as well as the connection between land, water and sky.

His photographs are on display at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City until June 7.

Magical: Flying fireflies evoke scene from a “fairy tale world”

A flight of hime botaru fireflies (Hotaria parvula), or ‘princess fireflies,’ in the woods flicker together in a warm, orange hued light. Locals call them ‘golden fireflies.’ Although each one is only about 5mm in size, the flight can create a spectacle that seems to come from a fairy tale world.
Credit: Takehito Miyatake.

Here, a group of botaru fireflies (Hotaria parvula) take flight in a wooded area. Despite each insect being only 5mm in size, “the flight can create a spectacle that seems to come from a fairy tale world,” says Miyatake.

Color: Lightning strikes right on hue at Sakurajima volcano

Showa crater of Sakurajima and volcanic lightningA light snow was falling intermittently on a winter night when I saw numerous blue strips of lightning flash as if to interweave with the scarlet flames. I was entranced by the performance of primary colors that evoked thoughts of the creation of earth.
Credit: Takehito Miyatake

“I was entranced by the performance of primary colors that evoked thoughts of the creation of earth,” says Miyatake.

Contrast: It’s glow over flow in light-versus-dark photograph

Takehito Miyatake, art, color japan
Credit: Takehito Miyatake

Here, the 47-year-old photographer contrasts the fireflies’ “yellow-green ribbon” glow with the rain-darkened rocks that reflect the blue sky.

Luminous: Out of abyss is sight not to miss

The hotaru ika, or ‘firefly squid,’ lives 2000 feet down under the water. In spring, they come up near the surface to spawn, and some of them even wash up on the beaches. A school of squid glowing like jewels looks like a blue band trimming the water’s edge.
Credit: Takehito Miyatake

Japan’s bioluminescent hotaru ika (‘firefly squid’) live 2,000 feet down (610
meters) under the water. In spring-time, they come up near the surface to spawn, and some of them even wash up on the beaches.

Inspiration: “Limited, but also profound”

It is said that after having found partners, fireflies return to the sky before the first light. Looking up into the sky from the vantage point of the creek, through the fluttering fireflies, I saw the Milky Way glittering above the woods with the green lights dancing in the foreground.
Credit: Takehito Miyatake
Miyatake was inspired by
Japanese poetry, or waka. “Both waka and photography can express nature concisely – with photography it can be a single image, with waka it is a poem of limited words – but also profound.”


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