Crates of fish line the dock. “Everything is sold to the big cities by our fishermen’s cooperative,” the boy explained, “ and then each person receive the money for what he or she had caught. My father says that in a good year the island earns 70 million yen (about $227,000) from fishing, but our tangerine crops bring in twice that much. And we also harvest four or five different kinds of seaweed to eat as you would eat tender young spinach.”
Life on the island is hard. By both fishing and farming, a husband and wife may earn about $4,900 a year. Jobs in the cities pay almost that much, and the hours are only half as long. Many of the village young people are leaving. The population of Futagami Jima is now only 630 people - half of what it was in 1945. Like many other small Japanese villages, Futagami Jima is becoming a village of old people. One day it may no longer be able to support itself - and then it will die. Some of the traditional ways of doing things may die also.
May 1972 National Geographic Magazine