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TOP > Shin-Etsu Group Original Calendar > Shin-Etsu Group Original Calendar 2004

Shin-Etsu Group Original Calendar 2004

Calendar Introduction

The Great Continents Vol. 6 ODYSSEYPhotographer : Masaaki Aihara

Australia. Said to be the earth's oldest continent, where nature yet exists untouched by human hands.
Photographer Masaaki Aihara revisits it every year, continuing an odyssey by motorcycle and 4WD that has taken him to the four corners of this vast beautiful land.
He says that this striking landscape, encountered amid extreme conditions of traveling hundreds of kilometers of waterless bush through the brutal heat, has a power to awaken some primal energy and perception in the human heart.
"To become one with the earth," these words express the photographer's passion as an artist and the theme of his work.

January & February:
Simpson Desert: Afternoon (Oodnadatta, South Australia)

The first desert I ever saw. A silent world. I half expected the word
"SILENCE" to float across the blue sky like some cartoon. When I killed the engine on my motorcycle, it seemed the world itself was coming to a halt. The temperature was easily over . This was truly the end of the earth.

March & April:
Over the Rainbow (Fes, Morocco)

From beyond the horizon the smell of water arrived with the storm.
Immense thunderclouds enfolded the earth. Strong winds forced me to cancel plans for aerial photography and return to camp to wait out the storm. The desert, where it rains only a few days a year, was veiled by a curtain of water. Then, as soon as it had come the rain departed, light streamed down from the sky, and a double rainbow appeared. Humming Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow," I released the shutter.

May & June:
Nameless Waterfall (Central Highlands, Tasmania)

They say that Tasmania has the purest air and water in the world. As I sat in camp drinking Earl Grey tea made with this water, I thought that might very well be true. In the Central Highlands, it rains more than 200 days a year. It seems as if the lifeblood of the planet comes dancing down out of the air. And when you are in these forests, you begin to believe they must be the abode of spirits.

July & August:
Magic Sunset (Broome, Western Australia)

About a century ago, more than 3,000 Japanese migrant workers came to dive for pearls in these waters. But many of them disappeared into the Indian Ocean, victims of riptides or the bends. When I go to photograph this place, I visit the Japanese graveyard, where to this day nearly a thousand of them sleep in sight of what locals call "the magic sunset".

September & October:
Early Morning in Autumn (Launceston, Tasmania)

Tasmania is Australia's largest island, with an area slightly smaller than Hokkaido. Locally it is called "Apple Island" because of its shape, and because apples are a major crop, including the variety called 'Fuji', which originated in Japan. Antarctica lies just to the south of Tasmania. And since the cold winds from the South Pole and the hot winds of the desert collide here, Tasmania's weather can change in the blink of an eye. It was almost like experiencing all four seasons in a single day.

November & December:
Night of the Full Moon (Bungle Bungles, Western Australia)

Ten or fifteen years ago this place was not even on the maps. No one had ever seen its scenery. In July 2003 it was listed on the United Nations' World Heritage List. In the depths of the night, a sky with a full moon sparkles above cliffs carved over more than 400 million years. The cliffs, baked by temperatures of nearly
during the daytime, are still warm to the touch at night. I spread my sleeping bag on them and slept beneath a sky full of stars. To me, it was the best bed in the world.

Masaaki Aihara
Born in Tokyo in 1958, Mr. Aihara graduated from the Department of Journalism of Nihon University's College of Law.
After working for a time in advertising, he turned freelance.
He periodically takes solo photography tours by motorcycle and has already covered 180,000 kilometers of the Australian continent on his travels.
He is the leading photographer of the beautiful nature of Australia.