August, 2010

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
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Nanatsugama (Seven Caves)

The autumn sea always reminds me of a man who claimed to be a messenger from the sea.
He is Jacques Mayol, the legendary diver.
Jacques's and my common friend, Atsushi Takashima, also a diver, wrote for me this month about the memory of Jacques.
I hope you will enjoy.

Jacques Mayol and the Sea of Karatsu
                                                 by Atsushi Takashima

When you talk about the sea of Karatsu, you cannot forget one name. The legendary diver, Jacques Mayol.
The Mayol family used to come to Karatsu from Shanghai to spend summer some 70 years ago.

 Jacques learned how to dive from a fisherman of Higashi Karatsu village, and met his first dolphin at the Seven Caves.The legend of Mayol started from the sea just before Yoyokaku!
Who could have imagined that Jacques would often come to Yoyokaku after 50 years. My story also began when I met him again at Yoyokaku after 24 years' interval.
 The Seven Caves is the sea where Jacques met a dolphin eye-to-eye close, and maybe this graceful animal decided his destiny as the Messenger from the sea.
 At his each return to Karatsu, we set sail a boat, and went to the Seven Caves to enjoy diving. Friends got together, bought some food, drinks, fruits, and of course Wine. It was a time-forgetting short trip. In a small calm bay, we anchored our boat. Everything proceeds slowly.

 There were some 'Rituals' before Jacques went into water . First, he turns his face to the sun, and breathes deeply the famous unique philosophical breath of him. Then he goes down the ladder into water. Dipping himself in the water up to his shoulders, he still repeats his slow breathing. Then away he goes from the boat suddenly.
Now he beats the surface of the water with his both arms wildly.
Then he swims with his snorkel just under the surface.
He catches the diving rope from the boat, and goes down to 3meters deep. Again, he does not move for 2 or 3 minutes. He may be saying hello to the dolphin he met here when he was a child.
After these procedures, he at last began diving deep.

 As for the lunch, we cannot eat until he says that we can. Who can resist the King?
He often wants something that other people are eating. I am eating something which European people wouldn't eat, then Jacques says "Give me some". I reject.
"I really want it"
Then Jacques begins to explain logically why he should eat it.
"You know, that is something I first saw. I must try and see how it tastes to understand Japan. It is your duty as a Japanese to let me try."
Always my favorite food went into Jacques's stomach.
 At lunch he enjoys wine, so after eating he does not go into the sea. On the boat, he lies himself in the sun and the sea-breeze, and he melts into the Nature. Time passed slowly, and we also imitated Jacques, without doing anything and committed ourselves to the Nature. This is the way Jacques taught us how to be friend with the Nature. Human is a part of Nature. Only a fool hurries himself in Nature. When you are in Nature, be as a nature is! Jacques was always right when it comes to the Nature.

 I still remember vividly the scenes with Jacques at Nanatsugama Seven Caves.

 It is almost nine years since Jacques became a nature forever. His ashes were scattered in the sea before the Elba Island. The sea will be as bright and deep, as cold as the sea of the Seven Caves.

Thank you Atsushi.
Thank you readers. If you want to read more about Jacques, here is a page of 9 years ago.
Sayonara, Jacques Mayol

I hope I will see you next month again.

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Yours, Harumi Okochi
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