In A Nutshell
If you were to visit the Japanese island of Sotobanari, you might be surprised to find a naked, 78-year-old hermit. His name is Masami Nagasaki, and while he used to be a photographer, these days he prefers living on his own . . . in the middle of the ocean . . . without any clothes on. Needless to say, this guy has quite an interesting lifestyle.
The Whole Bushel
About 400 kilometers (250 mi) off the coast of Okinawa, there’s a little tropical island that looks like it was ripped out of Lost or Jurassic Park. It’s called Sotobanari (pictured above), a word that translates into “Out Distant Island.” If you were sailing by Sotobanari, you’d probably marvel at the lush vegetation and beautiful beaches, but your jaw might drop when you saw a totally naked, 78-year-old hermit exercising on the beach.
This underdressed islander is named Masami Nagasaki, and he’s lived on Sotobanari for over 20 years. Once upon a time, Nagasaki was a photographer in the entertainment industry, but he eventually grew disillusioned with the job. In addition to putting down his camera, Nagasaki worried about the direction his homeland was heading. Angry at corrupt businessmen and industrial pollution, Nagasaki grew sick of society and decided to abandon Japan for Sotobanari.
However, despite its beauty, Sotobanari isn’t exactly a paradise. There’s no fresh water on the island, and the place is jam-packed with snakes, rats, and ants, not to mention hungry crows that enjoy stealing his food. And then there’s the occasional typhoon that destroys everything in its path. One particularly vicious storm flattened Nagasaki’s shelter and decimated most of the plant life, leaving our disrobed Robinson Crusoe to bake in the sun for quite awhile.
Over time, life has become easier for Nagasaki, although he still walks around in the nude. For shelter, the old man has set up several tents, but he usually sleeps in a small wooden shack he built with a friend. Whenever it rains, he sets out pots to collect water, and he occasionally hunts for giant clams. He’s rigged up a steel wire to act as an FM radio antenna, has fashioned a table out of a polystyrene box, and keeps healthy by gargling saltwater whenever he encounters strangers. According to Nagasaki, his gargling method never fails, and his “body is completely pure.”
So when does Nagasaki encounter people? Well, every so often, a buddy drops by to make sure he’s okay, and fishermen occasionally cruise past. Whenever he spots people nearby, Nagasaki doesn’t really worry about decency. His nudity feels natural, and he considers his birthday suit a sort of “uniform.” Of course, Nagasaki does get dressed whenever he heads to the nearby island of Iriomote. Once a month, he buys rice and water, using an allowance courtesy of an older sister. Whenever he returns to Sotobanari, he keeps the rice in glass bottles so rats won’t spoil his supper.
Sure, life on the island is challenging, but Nagasaki enjoys the peace and quiet. He’d rather “follow the rules of the natural world” than take orders from another human being. In fact, he plans to live out the rest of his life on the island and wants to take his last breath on Sotobanari. “I love this peace more than anything,” he told a Vice reporter. “I may not have any belongings, or enough food or water, but I’d take this peacefulness over them any day.”