Tag Archives: Scuba Diving

Metamorphosis


Mantis Shrimp by Jim Christensen
Mantis Shrimp by Jim Christensen

Molting mantis-shrimp masquerading mightily; meanwhile mostly meek.

Maybe moving might make me mealtime?

Malarkey!

My memory-made mind muddies more meaningful meditation.

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Shipwreck


Imperial Japanese Navy oiler Irō under attack on 30 March 1944, Palau, photo by United States Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy oiler Irō under attack on 30 March 1944, Palau, photo by United States Navy

Among gnarled and twisted branches, small fish on display.

During the quiet afternoon, us humans come for play.

Beneath our playground, a dark labyrinthine tomb.

This wouldn’t be our playground, but for your horrific doom.

I do not come for the fun and play anymore, if ever I visit this site.

I just come to watch the daring fish, all fighting the good fight.

A Letter to Mr. Ishikawa


Mr. Tomimatsu Ishikawa
Mr. Tomimatsu Ishikawa

This is Mr. Tomimatsu Ishikawa (2/28/1918 – 7/17/2013), WW2 veteran, fighter for soldier’s rights, and scuba diver.  He served on a fleet oiler, the Irō, during the war and was one of the few survivors when she was sunk by an American air raid as part of Operation Desecrate One.  In his later life, he advocated for the Japanese government to properly recognize and inter the remains of his comrades who had died aboard the Irō.  On March 30, 2004, at the age of 86 years old, Mr. Ishikawa dove 90 feet to the ship’s wreck and performed a memorial ceremony for his friends.  Partly, the reason for this dive was personal.  He wanted to pay respect to his friends.  The other reason for the dive was to generate media attention and broader awareness about the situation of the Irō.

Yoko and Mr. Ishikawa
Yoko and Mr. Ishikawa

The guide who helped him complete his mission was my friend Yoko Higashide.  She was very close to Mr. Ishikawa and regarded him as a grandfather.  Before her meeting Mr. Ishikawa, Yoko had limited knowledge about the shipwrecks of Palau.  She had worked there as a dive guide for two years without knowing that there were any shipwrecks.  It was only when she started working at Fish ‘n’ Fins, an international dive shop, that Yoko started to know about the WW2 history of Palau.  Even as she would lead dives to the wrecks, she always felt bad to be diving on them.  In her words, “It’s like we are playing at a graveyard”.

Me holding my letter to Mr. Ishikawa
Me holding my letter to Mr. Ishikawa

In the summer of 2007, I had the privilege to go diving in Palau.  One of the dives I went on was the Irō.  It was not the first time I had been there, but this time was different because my guide was Yoko.  She explained to me about the ship’s history and told me Mr. Ishikawa’s story.  I was inspired by his determination to return to the Irō, even though it was deep and he was 86 years old.  I asked Yoko if she could help me write a letter in Japanese to Mr. Ishikawa.  I wanted to let him know that I was an American who was moved by his mission to pay respect to his fallen comrades.  You can see my letter to him at the bottom of this blog post.  To my surprise, he wrote me back a long letter.  Although I mailed him again in 2009, that was the end of our correspondence.  For me, though, the one letter was enough.  Our lives were connected from then on.

Mr. Ishikawa praying for his comrades
Mr. Ishikawa praying for his comrades

Now, when I dive on war wrecks I am reflective of the human suffering that led the ships to be where they are.  So I do not consider wreck diving to be a leisurely activity like diving on a reef.  It is a somber activity like visiting a graveyard or the site of an old battle.  It is important to go there to remember our history.  Regarding my experience of writing a letter to Mr. Ishikawa, I think it is a truly great thing that even though Japan and the USA fought bitterly within his lifetime, he still lived to see the day when Yoko and I could be friends and enjoy scuba diving together.  I hope that I can always be a peaceful person and make him smile down from heaven.

Please read Mr. Ishikawa’s story by Yoko.  It is the second link in the Related Media below.

Related Media:

Memorial Video of Mr. Ishikawa

Mr. Ishikawa’s Story by Yoko Higashide

Returning Mr. Ishikawa’s Ashes to the Iro by Yoko Higashide

Daniel’s Letter in English

Daniel’s Letter in Japanese (Typed)

Daniel’s Letter in Japanese (Handwritten)

Mr. Ishikawa’s Reply Letter