Islander Focus, a project where we meet and chat with various residents of Izu Oshima.
This time we meet with Kana Nishitani, forest instructor and member of the Izu Oshima Geopark promotion committee.
What led you to become a mountain guide
I moved to Oshima because I was drawn to the ocean here, and was an ocean guide for 20 years. About 6 years ago I became interested in plants, and started taking walks around the island photographing them. In time, about 3 and a half years ago, I decided to become a mountain guide.
Also, Izu Oshima is an island with an active volcano. Since I started studying volcanoes, I’ve become even more captivated by the beauty and depth of mountains, and am left wide-eyed at the diversity of Oshima’s nature.
Has anything changed since you’ve become a mountain guide?
I always enjoyed observing the changes that occur in nature, such as the movements of animals, or natural phenomenon of rain and clouds, but when I started doing more walks through mountains I came to realize that plants move too.
In order to get more sunlight and reproduce, they move little by little. At times you will notice plants fighting each other for survival, and seeing such sights I am often left in awe.
During off seasons I would travel to other parts of the world to see other wildlife. While I am inspired by the guided talks, these trips are also a chance for me to remind myself of how unique Izu Oshima is.
Since Izu Oshima was listed as a Japan Geopark in 2010, I’ve traveled within and out of the island as a member of the Izu Oshima Geopark promotion committee to educate people about Izu Oshima Geopark. I hope that by informing people about the wonders of this island’s natural environment, and sharing the joys of experiencing a living earth, more and more people can experience for themselves the marvels of this planet.
Is there anything special you do or are careful about as a guide?
It varies from one person to another how they like to walk mountains, and their interests may vary too.
In order to provide answers to as many questions posed by participants, I try to go out in the field as often as possible to be informed, and am also careful with selecting words that are easier to understand.
I want people to walk, touch and really get a sense of the weight and feel of a real volcano so that they can experience nature in its raw form. I want to expose people to real nature.
It’s also important to train the next generation of nature guides. I try to think of ways to continue protecting this fertile land for generations to come.
What is the attraction of being a guide?
I believe the role of a guide is to tell the story behind what you see in front of you, and to search for a new story together with the visitor.
Rather than just focusing on plants and insects, it is a pleasure to be able to experience first hand that those little creatures, and us humans are all connected to the movements of this earth.
Kana’s Oshima Recommendations
Recommended place: This is hard. I love every part of this island.
For example, looking down at a field of Japanese pampas sparkling as though they are made of gold from atop the rocks of the smaller volcano within Mt. Mihara, or looking down at the phantom lake from in front of ‘Sankaku no Tsuka’, or ‘Kengamine’ where you get a 360 view, or the second observatory at the ‘ura’ (rear) desert, the lava park, the paths leading to people’s homes scattered with camellias, the coast where the waves break… there really are so many! What should I do?!
Nature Guide Info
Forest instructor. Member of Izu Oshima Geopark promotion committee. Vice president of Oshima Nature Guide Club
Animal lover from a very young age. Even when I used to live in the city I would have pet ants and lizards… I like to think about the relationship between life forms as well as the changes that occur in nature