After returning to civilization in 2018, the Japanese “naked recluse” went back to the remote island he once called home for nearly three decades to give it a proper goodbye.
Masafumi Nagasaki, 87, returned to Sotobanari Island in Okinawa Prefecture in early June with the help of Docastaway founder Alvaro Cerezo and his team. They documented the man who used the . is called “Naked Hermit” in 2014 and stayed with him on the remote island for less than a week last month.
In a June 16 blog postgave Cerezo an insight into the life of the volunteer castaway after he was “rescued” from the island in 2018 and returned to civilization.
Cerezo said Nagasaki was unable to build new friendships, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was also unable to make any headway in adapting to the modern world after living alone for 29 years.
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“Nagasaki had a rather ‘complicated’ personality and always spoke without a filter,” Cerezo wrote. “In a typical society like that of the Japanese, hardly anyone understood his eccentric way of life or his extreme desire to live naked on a desert island.”
“As a result, most of the people around him looked at him with contempt and a little bit of fear,” he added.
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Nagasaki was “saved” from the island about four years ago after a local fisherman saw him nearly unconscious on the beach. According to Cerezo, the Japanese government only provided him with “a small bedroom and very little money to cover his basic needs”.
After returning to civilization, Nagasaki spent most of his years locked in his small room that became his own uninhabited island, where he could live without his clothes on, just like he did on Sotobanari.
Cerezo noted that Nagasaki, who sometimes went out to collect trash on the street, was “appalled” by the amount of trash left behind by people.
During his “moments of desperation,” Nagasaki would use the only old phone booth in town that was still in operation and call Tamiki, Cerezo’s Japanese operations manager, to tell him that he struggled to be surrounded by people and that he island of Sotobanari.
Nagasaki first arrived on the island in 1989 as a volunteer castaway at age 53 Reuters in 2012, Nagasaki said he chose the island as the place where he would die.
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“It hadn’t really occurred to me how important it is to choose the place of your death, such as whether it’s in a hospital or at home with family by your side,” he said. “But to die here, in the middle of nature – you just can’t beat it, can you?”
Cerezo and Tamiki managed to convince the local Japanese authorities to let them take Nagasaki back to the island for a few days for a visit. They made no mention of Nagasaki’s desire to remain on Sotobanari Island and eventually die there.
As they took a boat to the island, Nagasaki grinned at the sky and “thanked life with folded hands.” On reaching their destination, the older man lifted his arms in delight and cheered.
After finding his old gear at his former jungle campsite, Nagasaki, Cerezo and his team returned to the coast. The “naked hermit” then slowly took off all his clothes and Cerezo found that age had taken its toll on the once agile man.
“Tamiki and I realized he wasn’t as strong as he used to be,” Cerezo wrote. “Although Nagasaki was 79 when I first met him in 2014, at the time he was very agile, energetic and able to survive on a desert island. Now he is almost 87 and has spent the last four years in a tiny room.”
Cerezo and his team planned to leave Nagasaki on the island the next morning, but they had to reconsider after seeing the man looked exhausted. It soon became clear to Cerezo and his team that Nagasaki was no longer as youthful as he used to be.
Nagasaki eventually asked Cerezo and Tamiki if they could stay on the island for a few more days to look after him. Then he would return with them to civilization.
On the day of their departure, Cerezo said Nagasaki chose to leave behind all his old belongings, adding: “Luckily, Nagasaki was not sad to leave. He seemed pleased to have had the opportunity to say goodbye to his island.”
“Maybe in a few years, if his last days are still in Sotobarani . want to spend, [sic] Island, and he feels his time is right and he is ready to leave this world, we will undoubtedly be there to help him,” Cerezo added.
After his nostalgic journey, Nagasaki returned to his government-subsidized room in Ishigaki, Japan, Cerezo told the New York Post on Monday.
Featured image via Pictures Docastaway – Desert Island Experiences