Much of the year the island of Tanegashima, located in a remote corner of southeastern Japan, is a sleepy little place. Just as they have done for centuries, ironmongers forge the tools and implements of daily life. Farmers till the soil and cultivate red rice and sweet potatoes. Fishermen throw their nets into the sea and haul in the catch of the day. Loggerhead sea turtles return here from thousands of miles away to lay their eggs.
Tanegashima is an isolated island off the southeast coast of Kyushu, Japan. It’s also the nation’s main spaceport, where rockets are assembled and launched into space. They carry satellites aloft and place them into orbit, and send pods with supplies up to the International Space Station. The island holds a special place in the hearts of the Japanese as a land of pristine beauty, a natural habitat for loggerhead sea turtles, and an agriculture-based corner of the country that still does things the ways of old.