Monday 23 September 2019

'Naked hermit' is taken off remote Pacific island where he has lived for 30 years

Masafumi Nagasaki lived a simple life on the remote island of Sotobanari
Masafumi Nagasaki lived a simple life on the remote island of Sotobanari

Julian Ryall

Masafumi Nagasaki was living in a state of perfect bliss, spending his days wandering naked and alone on a Pacific island, foraging for food and watching turtles hatch on the beach.

That is, until reports of his ill health prompted police to take him away from his Robinson Crusoe-like existence and rejoin mainstream Japanese society.

Mr Nagasaki (82) lived a simple life on the remote island of Sotobanari, about 230km east of Taiwan, for nearly 30 years, having moved there to escape urban life, but he has now been taken away despite insisting he wanted to die there.

The wiry and tanned recluse was picked up on a nearby island in Okinawa Prefecture, south-west of Japan, after police received reports that he appeared to be in ill health. Since then he has been living in a local authority property 45 miles away on Ishigaki island, according to Alvaro Cerezo, a documentary maker who befriended him in 2014.

When Mr Nagasaki was found, Mr Cerezo said he "probably only had the flu" but he is not being allowed to return to Sotobanari, an uninhabited island three-quarters of a kilometre in diameter and his home since 1989. The man nicknamed the naked hermit was coy about his background, but he indicated he had been married and had two children.

There were suggestions that he had worked as a photographer, in a factory and in Osaka's seedy nightlife district before turning his back on civilisation. Initially, Mr Nagasaki only intended to stay on the island for a couple of years. "In civilisation, people treated me like an idiot and made me feel like one," he told Mr Cerezo. "On this island, I didn't feel like that. Here... I follow nature's rules."

Mr Nagasaki spent his first few years on Sotobanari wearing clothes, but a typhoon swept away virtually all his possessions, including clothing.

Mr Nagasaki followed a strict routine, staying in his tent between dusk and dawn to avoid insect bites and doing morning exercises on the beach. He spent much of his day foraging for vegetarian food. He used a series of buckets to gather rainwater.

Once a week, he would dress and sail to a neighbouring island where he would buy food and drink with money sent regularly to him by his family. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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