KAT-TUN’s Yuichi Nakamaru Unveils Unique ‘Hermit Crab Gravure’ Photo Book | FRIDAY DIGITAL

KAT-TUN’s Yuichi Nakamaru Unveils Unique ‘Hermit Crab Gravure’ Photo Book

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Gravure idols adorn the covers and color pages of this and other magazines. The term “gravure” originally came from a printing method called “gravure printing. In the past, the term “gravure” came to be used for color photo pages because “gravure printing” was the mainstream method, and the women who appeared on these pages were also referred to as “gravure idols.

However, it is not only “gravure idols” and male celebrities that grace the pages of gravure. In fact, there is even a “hermit crab gravure,” in which a hermit crab walks on the ocean floor carrying a shell on its back. Kaito Kasaya is a gravure photographer specializing in hermit crabs. Fascinated by hermit crabs, he “scouts” hermit crabs under the sea and eventually makes them take off their shells.

This novel photo book became a topic of conversation when it was introduced on the information program “Shuichi” (Nippon TV) by a partner bookstore. Yuichi Nakamaru of KAT-TUN also introduced hermit crabs “exposed” in the program’s “Majisuka Senmon Shoten” project. We asked Mr. Kasaya, who has published three photo books, about the appeal of hermit crabs and the story behind the birth of “Hermit Crab Gravure” (the words in parentheses below are from Mr. Kasaya).

Hermit crabs were introduced on “Shuichi” (Nippon TV) and became a topic of conversation (courtesy of Mr. Kaito Kasaya).

The trigger was noticing a blind spot in an illustrated book.

There are more than 300 species of hermit crabs in Japan and more than 1,100 species worldwide, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Most people would imagine them as plain-looking, brown, crab-like creatures carrying a scroll shell on their backs. Kasaya, a native of Hakodate who often went to the sea with his father, a fisherman, and who has loved marine life since he was a child, had the same perception until he joined a traditional club called the Fisheries Biology Society of Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.

At the first camp I attended, I was fascinated by the colorful and variously shaped hermit crabs! It was the Yamatohon hermit crab that drew me onto the hermit crab trail. It can be seen on the Miura Peninsula and Boso Peninsula. It has a red-and-white striped pattern and emerald green eyes, giving it an Italian look around its face, but as its scientific name “Japonicus” implies, it is a major hermit crab among Japanese hermit crabs. I also liked its asymmetrical appearance, with the scissors on the right side being larger than those on the left,” says Mr. Kasaya.

The Yamatohon hermit crab that inspired Mr. Kasaya’s activities (courtesy of the artist).

This was the start of Mr. Kasaya’s research on hermit crabs. He began to visit Izu and Tateyama frequently to find and observe hermit crabs on the seashore and in shallow water. During summer vacations, she traveled to Okinawa and the Ogasawara Islands, where she was fascinated by the more colorful hermit crabs of the south.

He also had more opportunities to look through specialized illustrated books, but he said that these books often only show photos taken from the back without the shell. On the other hand, illustrated books for the general public often show frontal photos in the shell, but they are often too small to show details. So Mr. Kasaya began taking frontal photos with the shells on and backside photos without the shells for himself.

He says, “To take a full-body photo of the back, you have to remove the shell. The hermit crab holds the shell tightly by the hook-like tip, but you can remove it by cracking the shell so as not to damage the body, and then poking the tip when it comes into view. Large shells such as those of turban shells are struck with a hammer, medium-sized shells are slowly tightened in a vise, and small shells are removed with a nail clipper or a needle. This “taking off” requires skill, and I have improved a lot,” says Mr. Kasaya.

Breaking the shell leaves the hermit crab itself unprotected, but it is unavoidable in order to study its ecology. After photographing or observing the hermit crabs, they are preserved as specimens for future research.

Most of the children (hermit crabs) I photographed for Hermit Crab Gravure are also kept as specimens,” says Kasaya.

In some cases, the hermit crabs are photographed “on location” at the beach where they were found, and in other cases, they are placed in an aquarium and photographed in a “studio.

When I find a good hermit crab in the ocean, I take a frontal view of it. However, if I photograph them where they are growing, they may blend in with the surrounding rocky shoreline and be difficult to recognize, so I sometimes take them to a location 3 to 5 meters deep where there is natural light and clean seawater. My friends in my circle used to tell me that I was “scouting again for photo contests” or “abducting people” (laughs). When I go underwater to take pictures, I dive, but it is quite difficult because I have to place the hermit crabs in a good spot, wait until they emerge from the shell, and take my shot just as they emerge,” says Mr. Kasaya.

Mr. Kasaya, whom we interviewed this time, shooting on location in the water (courtesy of Mr. Kasaya).

In studio photography in an aquarium, it is easy to use white or black background paper to capture the details of hermit crabs, but because she can focus on every detail without worrying about breathing, she sometimes found herself spending as much as six hours photographing one type of hermit crab.

Selling a photo book at a school festival and receiving a great response

The first book was a collection of hermit crabs, which he collected from hermit crabs in Okinawa and other southern species, and he collected them in his third year of college.

I wanted people to know that there are many colorful hermit crabs, so I collected southern species that live in Okinawa and other places,” he said. I was happy to see so many people interested in hermit crabs,” says Kasaya.

The name “Hermit Crab Gravure” was given for the first time at that time. However, it took him six months to come up with the name.

This is a hermit crab photogravure, not an erotic book. To prove this, when the photos of the abdomen are shown in the section on the name of each part, the reproductive pore can be seen, but this area has been painted black. I am sorry if my book deprives you of the opportunity to see the reproductive pore of hermit crabs for the first time (laughs). Also, as long as the book is called “Gravure,” I can’t leave out the fact that the hermit crabs are undressed,” says Mr. Kasaya.

A hermit crab with its reproductive pore painted black (courtesy of the artist).

The following year, during his senior year at university, Kasaya published his second book, a collection of “humble but rugged” hermit crabs living in Honshu, and last year he released his third book, a more detailed description of hermit crab ecology. The second book was a great success, and the photographer was able to improve his equipment and skills, and enjoy beautiful photographs of hermit crabs. In the second book, he improved his photographic equipment and techniques, and the reader can enjoy beautiful photographs of hermit crabs. The explanatory text also focuses on the impressions and beauty of the hermit crabs that Kasaya observed, rather than on technical details, and Kasaya’s love for hermit crabs is clearly evident.

In the third book, there is a page introducing “Hermit Crabs’ Sexual Situation. It appears at first glance that the male is protecting the female, but it is in fact a female that has already mated with another male and is carrying fertilized eggs with her so that she can mate with him as soon as the eggs are fertilized.

I have also seen a male keeping an immature female that was about to become a female the next time she molted,” Kasatani said.

Mr. Kasaya, who devoted his college years to hermit crab research and photography, has been a hermit crab researcher for about 10 years. Now a working adult, he still goes to the beach on his days off, keeps about 30 hermit crabs in an aquarium at home, and continues his research.

He says, “There are about 10 aquariums in my house, and my closet stores specimens. In fact, hermit crabs are easy to keep, so I recommend them to anyone who wants to start keeping them in saltwater aquariums. I recently got married, and my wife not only lets me do whatever I want, but she is also interested, going to the beach with me and helping me sell at events,” says Kasaya.

A specimen of a Hermit Crab (provided by the artist)

Looking at the three photo books, one is struck by the variety of hermit crabs that live in Japan alone, each with its own personality and, above all, beauty.

I was attracted to hermit crabs because of their asymmetrical shape and beauty, but they are just so cute. I want people to know more about the fascination of hermit crabs, and I would like to introduce hermit crab breeding methods and eventually observe and photograph hermit crabs overseas as well,” says Kasaya.

Ms. Kasaya’s love for hermit crabs runs deep, and her career as a gravure photographer is still going strong.

Surprisingly, he is popular with women because they are “cute” (courtesy of the photographer).
Adeyaka zebra hermit crab with asymmetrical scissors (courtesy of the photographer).
A frontal view of the hermit crab, Tsumadillo hermit crab (courtesy of the artist).
When the shell is removed, the colorful body, which could not be seen from the front, can be seen at ……! (Courtesy of the artist)
Mr. Kasaya’s home aquarium. He says it is easy to keep them at home (courtesy of the artist).
Hermit Crab Gravure,” which sold 2,000 copies (courtesy of the artist).
Yuichi Nakamaru of KAT-TUN introduced hermit crabs in the “Majissuka Senmon Shoten” program on “Shuichi” (Nippon TV).
  • Interview and text Akiko Kawa Photographed by Yuri Adachi (Nakamaru photo only)

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