Kira Yamato Fictional News Report (Dedicated to Twist, Tenshi, LIS 06-07 and 07-08 batch and ZEN Honbu)                   ...
After having a get-together feast and rested, the next day was our first diveorientation and test. A Japanese instructor t...
I woke up at 9:40 am, prepped myself, and ate breakfast with the other members ofthe dive team. At the breakfast table, we...
“What is it, dude? Not feeling well?” Jenson asked me        “No, no, Yuuji, you’re right, it is beautiful” I said, tastin...
“Oh yeah, sorry!” Eiji replied, then smiled back at us       I just smiled back, then Naomi said “Typical Eiji, he’s just ...
I, Yuuji and Naomi detoured from the sharp crevices to find a creature that lurks inthe undersides of the icebergs.       ...
Jenson and Jun followed Yuuji, to secure him in the shoot of the lionfish. Jun quippedwhile taking photographs of the lion...
“Wait, do I see a kelp forest?!” I stammered while scooting        “Yeah, you’re right, it is a kelp forest” Yuuji said.  ...
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Fictional news story 1 japan's frozen underwater labyrinth


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This is my first electronically-transferred short story from my files of longhand-written stories. This resembles a news feature account of a magazine.

It is about a travel writer exploring the underwater ice of Shiretoko island together with his reporting partner and five intrepid Japanese teenagers.

This is a work of fiction, Any similarity with any person, living or dead, or place is purely coincidental.

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Fictional news story 1 japan's frozen underwater labyrinth

  1. 1. Kira Yamato Fictional News Report (Dedicated to Twist, Tenshi, LIS 06-07 and 07-08 batch and ZEN Honbu) Japan’s Frozen Underwater Labyrinth By Kira Yamato (Todd McCulloch) HOKKAIDO ISLAND, Northern Japan (DZRV Newswires) – We know Japan as a techcapital and one of the world’s leading economies, We always see Japan as a land of techwonders, high rise buildings, fashionable youths and its aging population. We only seeJapan’s wonders like Mt. Fuji, the Shinto shrines and its bustling metropolis, Tokyo, as ifthese only suggest of Japan. But, we found out that Japan has its own hidden wonders, and it lies more than 15feet under the cold winter ice. Last December, I and my longtime friend and reporting partner Jenson Harringtonwent to Hokkaido, an Island prefecture about 650 miles north of the capital, Tokyo. We were invited by a group of Japanese teenagers whose friendship are bondedtogether not only by their type of fashion, or by what tech gadgets they have or by what theirfavorite anime series they are currently into right now. But they are bonded together because of their love for Ice-Diving When we touched down and traveled to the Iruka hotel in Hokkaido, we first metYuuji Hidaishi, a 16-year old Japanese teen who is an expert ice-diver and has animpeccable command of spoken English. After we met Yuuji-san, he introduced us to the other members of his group, whichwe have known as “Ice Dolphins”. They were Eiji Hidaishi, Yuuji’s younger brother, 14,Junichiro Kotaro, 15 years old, Naomi Kawashima, 15 years old, Kenichi Iwamura, 17 yearsold, and Youko Hanajima, 16 years old. They are friends that share a common sport. They chose to do ice-diving because ofthe way their adrenaline pumps over their veins and the thrill and excitement when they diveunderwater. They are all expert divers and learned to ice-dive at the same time. This explainedtheir tight friendship and camaraderie in all aspects. I am also surprised also that they had avery excellent spoken command of English, just like their leader Yuuji. Out of curiosity, I just asked Yuuji, “Tell me, H-how did you learn English that good?!” Yuuji made a reply to me, “It’s in the brains, Todd-san!” What Yuuji meant, which I found from the parents of both Yuuji and Eiji, they are oneof the smartest groups of teens in whole of Japan, with IQ’s ranging from 160-190! Well, after our first meet, we checked in one of the quarters of the hotel which issituated in Shiretoko Island, one of the small islands of Hokkaido and near the Arctic Circle.Winter temperatures in the island drop from about -5 to -15 degrees C, enough to make thesea a frozen icy landmass and perfect for an intrepid underwater exploration.
  2. 2. After having a get-together feast and rested, the next day was our first diveorientation and test. A Japanese instructor told us to wear our drysuits but we won’t gounderwater for today. He told us, through Yuuji, that in order for us to appreciate the drift of the water. Wemust test ourselves by swimming first in the cold water, and we did exactly just that. A divehole was prepared but the instructor told us that the hole will be prepared only for tomorrow.We immersed ourselves in the water using our drysuits which was inflated with air. Theresult- we played and swam in the pool like kids. After we swam back and forth the funny way, we retreated back to our suite in thehotel to discuss our dive plans. Yuuji asked me, “Is this your first time to go down here?” I replied, “Uh, yeah, but I have made countless dives from the Arctic to the Antarctic, Ithink I could make it here” Eiji then discussed the map which contains info for our route which will dive to; itstretches about 2 km and, according to him, full of creatures. Kenichi pointed to a sector in the map, and said “This point, until this, will be themost challenging part of the route” Naomi added “Yeah, it’s full of sharp crevices from the icebergs, but it’s also themost beautiful part.” “What creatures are we going to expect there?” Jenson asked. “Some small, some big, but all of them are endemic here” Eiji answered. “Yeah, and some of them can only be found here in Shiretoko” Junichiro added. “The temperatures underwater can range from -2 to -14 degrees C, the last time wedived, the temp recorded at about -14 to -16 degrees, but we can manage that” Youkofinalized. “Wow, you really are good” Jenson said. “And we also mapped it, Here is the video with our audio annotations during our divemapping, Of course, we subtitled it for you”, then Yuuji laughed. And we watched the tape, I was happy on what I saw on the video, It proved theirtight friendship even under this conditions. “Who shot the video?” I asked “I did, along with my brother and Naomi” Eiji answered. “Good editing also there, who made it?” I added “Maybe it’s Jun, or Kenichi” Yuuji replied. “It’s me, Yuuji” Jun owned up. “I see, that’s why there’s some glitch in it!” Yuuji replied back, and the teens burstinto laughter. After discussing the dive plans and watching the video, we hit the sack at around 12in the morning, enough time to rest for our cold water dive tomorrow.
  3. 3. I woke up at 9:40 am, prepped myself, and ate breakfast with the other members ofthe dive team. At the breakfast table, we discussed some final details for the dive. Jenson, Yuuji, Eiji and Naomi are going to be the videographers while Jun and Youkoare the dive photographers. We also decided that we will use rebreathers to prolong our divetime and enable us to approach the creatures without the hassles of scaring them off. At around 12:20 pm JST (Japan Standard Time), donned in our drysuits, we walked tothe same spot where we did the dive orientation. The tenders removed the slush andaccumulate in the hole while the technicians prepared and checked the comms and thecameras needed in our dive. We used neoprene drysuits with foam rubber undergarments to protect us from the -15 degree water. Our gloves were also freeze resistant. We will be wearing an open-faceddiving hood, with provisions for the use of specs. But the main equipment that we will use is the rebreather system. Like I said earlier,it recycles the air that we breathed and reuses it again. If used with the proper training, it willprolong our dive time from the normal 40-50 minutes to as much as 4-6 hours. We will also use an EXO-type full-faced diving mask, the ones the Ice Dolphins use intheir explorations. With their dive comms system located on topside and the audio receiversin each of the four underwater HD Cameras, we will be able to communicate ourselvesverbally, without the need of a diving slate or some other complicated dive signals. We also have our other dive must-haves like the Buoyancy Compensator, or BC’s, N2Indicators, Dive Computers, Depth gages and our spare air supply. After the tedious and complex suit-up, Yuuji was the first to dive down to makeestablishers and to cover our immersion. Yuuji crackled over the comm. “We have perfect conditions here; It’s a great day toexplore!” Eiji, who was the next to go down, said “Is the temp okay there, brother?” Yuuji replied “Quite okay, at -14.8oC, I’m at 20 ft, looking at your fins” After that, Eiji went down, then Jenson and Naomi, who was getting tizzy when shegot down under the ice. “Wow, the ice hasn’t changed since we last dived here! I can see your hands, Todd-san!” Naomi said when she went under me recording the first moments. And then my turn came. To tell you the truth, I was nervous when I approached thehole, a feeling quite unusual on my past expeditions before. But not until I slipped my mask,secured the line clipped to me, (actually, all of us were to be secured by a dive line so thatwe should not get lost, but because we only have few dive lines and tenders for today, wedecided that Yuuji, I and Jun will instead be getting the dive line, thereby the other divers willjust hold on to our lines so as not to get lost) signaled OK to the people at the surface,dropped myself in the freezing water and submerging my head, came to my senses thatthese guys are not bluffing about the beauty. “Whoa, whoa” were the first words I uttered underwater
  4. 4. “What is it, dude? Not feeling well?” Jenson asked me “No, no, Yuuji, you’re right, it is beautiful” I said, tasting the first look “I told you so” Yuuji replied back When I saw the underwater landscape of Shiretoko for the first time, I felt that I wasNOT in Shiretoko, I felt like I was in an underwater version of the Labyrinth of Minos. “Guys, I feel like I’m in a labyrinth, it’s so beautiful!” I mumbled. “You mean the labyrinth? Yeah, it’s just like what’s in the myth, and it’s only thestarting point” Yuuji, who was now recording Kenichi and Youko’s submerging in the hole,replied to me. Jun, the last one to go down, got himself in a little trouble when the dive line attachedto him snapped before he went. Luckily, the tender attached a new line to him before hesubmerged. Now, all of us were underwater, we were ready to explore Japan’s frozen underwaterlabyrinth. After we checked first our equipment, we swam to a deep part of the lake where areef thrives despite the cold conditions. “Wow, am I in the great barrier reef?” I uttered shamelessly. “You’re not!” Eiji kiddingly replied, the others laughed while Naomi panned thecamera to me. “Yeah, I am not in the barrier reef, but I FEEL like I’m in it!” I muttered. “That’s what the other visitors always think of too! We had some friends fromAustralia who visited us before and they said that the surroundings here are the same asthose in the Great Barrier Reef, albeit on colder conditions.” Kenichi said. We went to a deep part of the reef, where we saw an octopus swim towards thedirection where Jenson and Youko are shooting pictures. “Wow, this octo sure is enjoying” Youko radioed while shooting. “Yeah, he seems quite amused by us” Jenson seconded. While the others are busy exploring, I, Eiji, Yuuji and Naomi swam to a nearby ledgewhere Yuuji told me that there is an extremely ugly but gentle creature that lurks in there. “Todd, shine in you light down that hole” Yuuji instructed. I followed, and then I sawan eel-like fish which is ugly but gentle. “Wow, what a creature!” I cried. “Ugly, ain’t he?” Naomi quipped while shooting my hand with the fish. “Yeah, but he’s also gentle! I’d never seen anything like it!” I said in jest. I saw Eiji’s eyes smile, a sign that he was happy, and said “It’s the best dive of mylife, because I made someone happy again!” He was right, I really felt happy not only because of what I saw, but because of thedive buddies I had. They were the most enthusiastic divers that I had met ever since the dayI made my first ice dive. “We haven’t explored more yet, Little bro!” Yuuji reminded.
  5. 5. “Oh yeah, sorry!” Eiji replied, then smiled back at us I just smiled back, then Naomi said “Typical Eiji, he’s just only fourteen” We went back to meet with the others and swam northward to the first glacier about150 feet where the dive hole is. “Yuuji, are you sure this line can hold us till the farthest point?” I asked. “Yeah, the line measures more than 2km. It’s the longest that we have” Yuujiassured. Because only three divers were fitted with the dive line, the team grouped intothrees, Yuuji has his brother Eiji and Naomi holding on to his line, while my line was assistedby Jenson and Youko, Kenichi and Jun share the last dive line. Jun checked the underwater temperature for us; we always check the temperatureand record it so that we can average it to determine the mean temperature we dived into. “Temperature check, it’s -16.6oC down here” Jun said “Wow, it’s getting colder and colder, brother” Eiji said. “Yeah, hey we’re now in the glaciers” Yuuji told the others The glaciers were a sensation. I never saw some beautiful ice formations since Ivisited Antarctica in late 2007. I touched some glaciers here and it was amazing to feelnature carving in its glory. But sadly, Shiretoko is now also being affected by the effects ofclimate change and global warming. “I hope these glaciers remain forever, they’re beautiful” Jenson said “Yeah, they’re priceless too” Kenichi added “The visitors always get the big awe when they come in here, especially in this point.That is why Shiretoko Island is so popular for Ice diving.” Youko said. “Topside called, we’d been here for the past hour and a half” Yuuji reminded us. “Really? We haven’t explored much here” Youko answered “Yeah, I think we could spend more time to explore here” I added “Well, like I said, there’s more to explore here in Shiretoko, and we’ve only justbegun!” Yuuji bolstered After we went to the glacial ice formations, we swam to the spot where Kenichi toldus that this was the most challenging but very beautiful area of the lake. And Kenichi was right The icebergs that we saw on the place were really sharp. So sharp that if we made asmall mistake, our drysuits will pierce like balloons. But boy, they were beautiful; theseformations were the most exquisite I’d saw in my whole life. “Guys, be really, really careful, these are sharp.” Kenichi warned “Yeah, we usually never show these to tourists. But because you’re different fromthem, we decided to show you around here” Eiji added. “It’d better be, it’s beautiful if these are left untouched” Jenson said
  6. 6. I, Yuuji and Naomi detoured from the sharp crevices to find a creature that lurks inthe undersides of the icebergs. “Look, Todd-san, a big lobster!” Yuuji pointed, we approached the crustacean. “Wow, it’s so subtle” I said of the lobster. “Yeah, quite subtle” Yuuji answered “The crustacean’s quite enjoying its life here, ain’t it?” Naomi asked. “Even at these conditions?” I added “Yeah, you’re both right. The lobster has already adapted to this cold temperaturehere in Shiretoko, so he is now able to survive these waters.” Yuuji replied. Jenson and Eiji, meanwhile, were exploring the surrounding portions of the icebergstogether with Youko. “I’d never seen so much grandeur here, even more amazing is that we’re close todanger as we speak!” Jenson cried “You’re right, Jenson-san, its dangerous yet beautiful, just look at this berg here. Isn’tit cute?” Eiji said “Yeah, quite lovely, with a small creature” Jenson answered, pointing to a smallcrawfish. Youko approached the berg with the creature and said, “Really amazing, indeed” We continued our exploration of the labyrinthine lake. We have incurred about morethan two hours in exploring Shiretoko. Thanks to our rebreathers, we are able to prolong ourdive time. But we could expect that our dive time is nearing its end. At the next sector, about 540 m from our diving hole, Youko spotted something onthe edge of the reef about 12 m down. “Hey look, fishes!” Youko radioed us. We descended down and there it was, a hordeof fishes and other unusual marine creatures that were swimming and living at that depth. “I have never seen such diffusion of creatures here!” Yuuji exclaimed. “Yeah, they’re beautiful, brother” Eiji added while recording the commotion of thecreatures. “We never expected this Todd, Jenson, I think the fishes and creatures were reallywaiting for you two.” Naomi said and she smiled. She could be right about that, because of all the cold water temperatures I’d beeninto, Shiretoko was different. The wildlife here is amazing, its fishes do readily adapt to thecold temperature which at most reaches -15oC (-5oF). “Yeah, probably you’re right” I answered “Hey, look, a lionfish!” Kenichi pointed, and then Yuuji approached it to tape thepoisonous creature. “Brother, be careful!” Eiji warned “It’s alright, Eiji, I won’t be touching this” Yuuji said while recording the beautiful butdangerous creature.
  7. 7. Jenson and Jun followed Yuuji, to secure him in the shoot of the lionfish. Jun quippedwhile taking photographs of the lionfish “Just avoid its sharp roar!” After exploring the fishes and other marine creatures, we swam northward. We haveincurred more than two and a half hours underwater, and our videotapes are running out, soas the batteries. “We’d better surface now, tape’s had ran out” Yuuji said. “Yeah, and I feel colder than ever, I haven’t dived this long, brother!” Eiji added. We all agreed, and swam back, following the line that we were attached to. Yuuji alsoplaced a marker where we will return to complete our journey. “Todd, Jenson, you have seen half of the labyrinth, Wait till you explore the next halfof this!” Yuuji excitedly said, while returning to the dive hole. After we ascended and returned to the hotel, we replayed all the tapes and photos ofour dive. “Wow, nice shots.” I quipped to Eiji, while viewing his video. “Really? Gee, thanks!” Eiji replied “Look at that, really amazing shot” Jenson commented. “Yeah, and it’s really different. I mean the dive was totally, totally different. Therewere more creatures than the past dives we did.” Yuuji stressed. “And we also saw some creatures for the very first time, like that long fish that thebrothers, Todd and I saw. I know that creature will lurk in there” Naomi added. “But we’re still missing something” Kenichi said “What?” Yuuji asked. “We haven’t shown to our guests the grand finale!” Kenichi said Yuuji and paused and thought, then after a few seconds, he said “Oh, yeah, Todd,Jenson, you’re not going to believe this, but in the end, you’ll see a surprise.” “Really?!” Jenson and I cried “Yeah, just follow our lead on tomorrow’s dive” Yuuji finalized. And that day came, the next but sadly our final day of diving. We went to the markedarea at 11:55 am Japan Standard Time, where the tenders, technicians and safety diversare preparing our hole and our communications and video equipment. We went in the water at 12:40 pm JST, and the temperature was registered at exactly-12.06 oC, slightly warmer than yesterday. At this dive, we all now have safety lines and we also used DPV’s or diver propulsionvehicles to enable us to explore the remaining distance of the lake. Yuuji, Eiji and Naomi’scameras were now attached to the DPV’s “Wow, I never k new these scooters are fast” Eiji quipped. “Yeah, and helpful too” Youko added. We scooted towards an unusual sight, a kelp forest some 20 meters below thefreezing ice.
  8. 8. “Wait, do I see a kelp forest?!” I stammered while scooting “Yeah, you’re right, it is a kelp forest” Yuuji said. “These kelp plants were exported from the US some 20 years back” Jun revealed. “Oh, so this kelp is really the genuine article from Monterey Bay?” Jenson askedwhile examining the kelp strands “Uh, yeah, but they have already adapted to the conditions here” Naomi said. Eiji was playing with a kelp strand with Youko when they saw another lobster, it waslong and large, about 0.75 m long. “Hey, Mr. Lobster, look at me!” the “long-haired” Eiji greeted to the animal. “He must be thinking you’re his long lost brother!” Youko joked when the lobsterapproached the 14-year old teener. We continued to scoot and document the lake (sadly, some of our annotations arenot anymore going to be written because of space restraints. But I assure you an expandedpart II version will appear soon1) until we approached the endpoint of the lake, which theycall “the big one”, a huge chunk of iceberg about 20 m long. “So, what’s the surprise here?” I asked. Yuuji swam to the underside of the berg and there, we saw the surprise, a frostedglass panel with the surface and underwater photos of the Ice dolphins. “Wow, you really surprised us” Jenson said. “Yeah, we did that picture the first time we entered here” Yuuji said. “Mind we take a picture of us here? It’s your final day here, and, we’re kinda sadbecause you’re going to leave us” Eiji sadly said, with tears on his eyes “Oh, cheerio, Eiji, we’re coming back, Promise!” Jenson quipped “Really? Thanks Jenson!” and Eiji smiled at us. And then we assembled together and one of the safety divers who joined us took agreat picture of us inside the big one. We kept the picture of us and the Ice Dolphins on thereturn flight. But after we took the shot, Yuuji, Eiji, Naomi, Kenichi, Jun and Youko thanked us twofor joining us on the dive. “Promise us you’re going to return?” Eiji asked while we returned to the surface “Yeah, and we’ll try to include you guys in our next dive trips” I said. “Thanks very much guys, Our team is happy to join you in our trip here in thelabyrinth” Yuuji said, and smiled at us on the return back to the hole. Yeah, Japan’s Shiretoko Island truly is one heck of an underwater labyrinth. (30) (Finished 30 July 2009 on longhand, Transferred on MS Word 2007 02 August 2011,Set in Franklin Gothic Book 12 point type)1 Writer’s note: I planned to write this as a 20-page article (on yellow paper), but because all my fictional newsarticles only carried 10 pages, I decided to cut all my plans and fit it all in 10 pages. But I will make anexpanded version of this article soon! (written on page 10 head 30 July 2009)