#6   September 2000    

Mr. Jacques Mayol and the sea of Karatsu

We, Jacques's friends in Karatsu are so shocked and sorry about his death on December 22, 2001.
Jacques, we believe that you have gone back to the sea.
Are you holding the longest breath in the Great Blue?
And are you going to return to us in the shape of dolphin?
Please rest in peace. We will never forget you.
"Hello, Harumi-san, I just dropped in to say hello."

 Mr. Jacques Mayol always surprises me with a sudden appearance.
We have known each other for only eight years, but it seems to me that Mr. Mayol thinks we've been friends for more than 60 years. Why does he think so? That is what I am writing here now.

 First of all, just to make sure, I will briefly introduce this world-renowned "homo delphinus" . You will probably remember the movie titled "The Big Blue"(Le Grand Bleu). The movie was based upon a book written by Jacques Mayol. He was the diver who dived over 100 meters deep without air first in man's history. He is now working vigorously in many fields concerning about the nature, sea, dolphins and whales, etc. He is thinking about the possibility of human being to go back to the sea. We could call him a sea-philosopher.
 Well, there are so many fans of Mr. Mayol, and they know about him much more than I do. So, I will write here only about Mr. Mayol in Karatsu, present and past.

 Jacques was born in Shanghai in 1927 as the second son of a French architect. At that time there was an ocean liner between Shanghai and Nagasaki. Jacques's family used to come to Nagasaki and spend their summer holidays at Niji-no-Matsubara Pine Forest in Karatsu. He was 6 years old when he learned how to dive in the shallow water of the beach , and also when he met his first dolphin at Nanatsugama Seven Caves. There were some wooden hotels for Westerners in Niji-no-Matsubara, and one of them called Azumaya Hotel was the one Jacques's family stayed at. The son of the owner of the hotel was a good friend of his and they together enjoyed thoroughly the shining days of their boyhood. But the latter half of the 1930's was the days when dark clouds of Japanese militarism got away every western thing from Japan. Jacques's family did not come to Karatsu after that again.

 Many years later, in 1971, when Jacques achieved his amazing world-record of 76 meters of free-diving, he visited Karatsu again. He tried to collect the fragments of his recollections of his happy childhood. Then he met some people, not his old friends because it was too late, but new friends-to-be for the days to come after 20 more years. Among them was Atsushi Takashima, a young diver who admired Jacques but did not dare to talk to him at that time.
 Twenty years passed and Jacques visited once again to make a TV program for NHK. Here, we met for the first time, and here again Atsushi Takashima met him.
Atsushi is now a famous professional diver and marine-photographer, and each time Jacques comes to Karatsu it is Atsushi who shows him around, goes to the sea together, and dives together.

 Jacques and I tried to find some clue of his lost memories. I telephoned, looked for the old newspapers, asked many questions of older people. I also translated for him when necessary. Such co-study made me feel that I had shared his cherished memories for so long a time, even though I was not yet born when Jacques was in Karatsu.
Since that time, he kept coming back to my place.
 I listen to his angry voice about how people are ruining the sea, why human being should pay respect to the nature.
 He promised me that he would dive 74 meters deep next year, because he will be 74 years "young" then. I am sure he will do that. You must watch up, too!
 Jacques Mayol loves Karatsu "dolphinately", and we Karatsu citizen love him whalely, too. The Mayor of Karatsu calls Mr. Mayol "The Messenger from the Sea" with much respect. Mayor has put a dolphin shape on a public building near Karatsu Station. It is very cute. I hope you will sometimes visit Karatsu and see the dolphin sign and understand what it means.
 Thank you for visiting my web-site, and I also remain dolphinately yours,
Official Site of Jacques Mayol
                                                  Mail to Harumi Okochi