Based in the Okinawa Prefecture and former part of the Yaeyama archipelago and Ryukyus islands, Iriomote-Jima is the most southern island in Japan and 90% of it ground is covered by jungle and mangrove.
Even during its short period of coal mining, the island was never inhabited by a large human population, mainly because of Malaria, as a result its natural environment and wildlife were preserved. Malaria- free, Iriomote was only returned to Japan by the US in 1972.
This land is home to many local species including insects, frogs and birds, but also flying foxes and the famous leopard cat named Yamaneko, which was only discovered in 1965.
A local legend says another mysterious big cat allegedly lived on the island and was much larger than the Yamaneko. At night, his eyes were said to be the glittering thing on the mountain or Yamapikarya. Some people even claim this creature still exists.
In the spring of 2009, I found myself by chance just a few hours away, by boat, from this last frontier of Japan, but had no means to get there.
I promised myself to return there, even for short span, but with my recording equipment. This finally became possible in the summer of 2014 and I went there with a four-channel microphone setup.
This work was produced with the help of the Tropical Biosphere Research Center University of the Ryukyus. It was premiered in the auditorium of the Museum national d'Histoire naturelle, in Paris, and a special piece was derived from it for Touch Radio #104.
DinhaBird, Yuko & Sam Bird, Yoko Fukushima, Mike Harding, Benoît Hické, Trevor Jones, Takafusa Morimoto, François Vaillant, Valérie Vivancos, Shin Watanabe