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Mar. 10, 2015 - Updated 04:16 UTC

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Capturing Kushiro Marsh

Tomoyasu Hayakawa

Dec. 12, 2016

A Japanese cameraman is shooting a film about the county's largest marshland in Hokkaido. Entry to the interior of the Kushiro Marsh is strictly controlled to protect the pristine nature and rare species found there, so we followed Michito Tanaka as he went about his work.

Tanaka is from Shibecha, a town in eastern Hokkaido. He was born and raised near the Kushiro Marsh, and has been so fascinated by it that 2 years ago he began producing films about it.

One of his films, titled "Marshland," shows the Kushiro Marsh in winter. The documentary was highly acclaimed for its vivid depiction of nature, and won an award in October at an international film festival in Sapporo.

Today, Tanaka is based in Tokyo and produces TV programs and advertisements, often using a drone. He says that working outside his hometown has increased his interest in the Kushiro Marsh.

"When I send a drone 150 meters into the sky above the marshland, I can see the pristine nature in all directions. I don't think a place like this exists anywhere else in Japan," Tanaka says.

He plans to shoot more videos, and produce a film depicting the changing seasons.

Tanaka takes care not to interfere with the animals when shooting.

"I make it my rule to collect footage in the shortest amount of time possible, and shoot only what is necessary to make a film," he says.

Tanaka is most interested in shooting the heart of the marsh. Entry into the area is strictly limited by the central government, so he has never been in there.

"I think the meandering rivers are an essential part of the area's landscape. I want to show people the intricate patterns the rivers create at the heart of the marsh," Tanaka says.

In October, Tanaka was allowed to enter the central area by canoe on condition that he would be accompanied by an official from the Environment Ministry.

"I have a feeling I'll be able to witness scenery I've never seen before," Tanaka said.

As he paddles, the sight that gradually emerges in front of him is a pristine land of rivers and reeds.

It takes 3 hours to reach the center, and then Tanaka starts shooting footage. Several rivers meander through the marsh, and converge at the center. Tanaka says that seeing the vastness of nature can make humans seem tiny and insignificant.

"It's almost a miracle that such an expansive wilderness remains," Tanaka says. "I hope to continue to produce films of the marshland."

The Kushiro Marsh, dating back thousands of years, continues to fascinate those who view it.