Monday, February 20, 2017

Travel Photos: Seseragi Waterfall in Tomigusuku Okinawa

Small waterfall near a large city

Once A Beautiful Nature Attraction


It's usually a pleasure, finding spots like this to show the world, through photography.

This gem was captured, riding along with the Map It Okinawa dude, last month.

Google Maps, asked me for a review because, they know, everywhere I go.


Tiled-roof building overlooking waterfall, benches, fence and railings

There's a cozy, little building on the hill, overlooking the waterfall.

It took a bit of trick-photography, to make this place, look attractive to travelers.

There is a small park, across the street, which appears to be maintained.

Back in 2015 the city of Tomigusuku, held a Lantern Festival at this location.

The waterfall and, this building are now Off Limits and, not maintained for visitors.

Who knows ?  Maybe, there's a ghost hanging around !



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Four Leaf Clover - It Found Me

plant,clover,white background,image

Yotsuba no Kuroba (よつばのクローバー) in Japanese


If I had been looking for a four leafed clover, I wouldn't have found this.

Out back, getting some fresh air and nicotine therapy, I was sitting on a concrete block.

Today I didn't feel like, pumping concrete weights over my head.

Looking at green, helps relax the eyes if, you've been staring at computer monitors.

My eyes were relaxed, the cigarette ran out on me and, I started heading back to the office.

That's when I saw it.  The first four leaf clover, I ever found in my life.

Maybe, it was trying to say "Pick me. Pick me."  

I grabbed it even though, it wasn't in my garden.  Mrs. Yamashiro, won't mind.

She's always telling me to pick some of her vegetables and, take them home.

Probably, won't notice one four leaf clover, turned up missing.


fingers and clover in front of a mirror

Once inside, I experimented with a few different compositions with the leaf.

It's hard to tell, that's me and the clover in front of a mirror and, I'm shooting the Pentax.

My fingernail, should give you an idea of the lucky leaf's size.


Clover in vegetable garden


When enough photos were taken, I started feeling guilty and, took the thing back.

It's in the center of this image, just about where it originally came from.

That's not the end of the story.  Next, I did my research and, learned a lot more.


Causing Me to Go Back and Find It Again !


These clovers are so rare, you're supposed to eat the thing if, you find one.

A genie will show up and, give you three wishes, which must be used within the year.

They are so rare, only one in 10,000 clovers develop with four leaves.  Dang.

You can read all about them at Wikipedia if, you believe those folks.

More about four leaf clovers in Japan, was discovered in JAPANREFERENCE.

Another, fortunate find today, was Hanakotoba. I'm bookmarking this one.

In Japan, you can give someone a flower, not talk and, they'll get the meaning.

Certain flowers mean love, longing, sex, truth, respect, faith, shy or, whatnot.

Well, just like many other places, the four leaf clover means, "Lucky."

So, I ran back and swiped the clover from the garden, again. I have a plan.

It got straightened out on a white background and wrapped in wax paper.

It will be given to someone special, in Japan, for good luck.

Checkout Wikipedia's Hanakotoba and, learn the language of flowers.

Friday, February 17, 2017

This Bird Helped Me Find Something

Birds, Lapwing, Vanellus vanellus

Sometimes When I Flip the Bird



Going  back through the files, I decide to do more research, to find current information.

This creature, a Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) has been seen on the blog a few times.

Once in awhile, I hook up my Japanese audience with links, they can read.

Sometimes, I get more information by, poking Japanese into Google search Japan.

A Latin nomenclature, might work or, I use Japanese to copy and paste for searches.

Fooling around with Japanese, which I'm fairly horrible at, can become time consuming.



How About a Japanese Picture Dictionary



That's what this bird helped me discover and, it's quite a handy tool.

Call it a "pictionary" if, you like. That's what I'm gonna do, from now on.

It has pictures, English, Japanese Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana and Romaji listed.

Animals, birds, fish, insects and flowers, are what I'd use it for, mostly.

If you're lost for words in Japan, this site could help with almost anything.

They have astronomy, basic words, banks, bathroom, body organs, clothing, sports and more.

This is a goldmine, worth bookmarking because it has thousands of uses.

For example let's just say, you get upset because it's hard to find large size underwear in Japan.

Walk down the aisles until you find somebody, who looks friendly and say, "Help."

Then if, you saved this on your smartphone, show them a picture of what you want.

They'll point you in the right direction and, probably be amazed at this technology.

Get ready, get set, email this link to yourself  "Japanese Pictionary."  That's what I did !


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Flower Photo: Orange Hibiscus in February

orange hibiscus, flower

Tired of Snow?  Visit Okinawa



It gets a little chilly and windy sometimes, around here but, it doesn't snow.

Out back this morning, I was doing slome stretching and, suddenly stopped.

The brain was tired from testing yesterday and, the body was sore, too.

When I spotted this flower, it gave me an idea. Shoot it for the poor folks in snow country.

I listened to my brain and body, cancelling physical training for the day.

Camera: Pentax K1

Lens: Pentax 50MM

Exposure:  f/2.5   1/4000   ISO 800

Location:  Kin Town Okinawa Japan

Date and Time:  FEB 16 2017  8:35 AM

Monday, February 13, 2017

Look at the Tit Caught on the Mountain Today

Poecile varius, bird, Varied Tit, cherry blossoms

A Couple of Them Were in the Cherry Blossoms


Before, I tell the wife about chasing tits, I'll show her this photo so, she doesn't get angry.

Doc and I went up north, looking for cherry blossoms and wound up chasing tits.

Whenever I come across some bird, I've never seen before, I have to research it.

Over at Avibase, they say, you could call this a Chestnut-bellied Tit.

The Handbook of Birds of the World says, they eat nuts and spiders.

At Wikipedia, I read they eat seeds and caterpillars.

At Wildlife Okinawa, I got アマミヤマガラ (Amami yamagara) the Japanese name.

The scientific name:  Poecile varius amamii

The simple English name: Varied Tit

The mountain, we were on, when these tits came along was  Oppadake in Nakajin Village.


Now that I know, they have tits flying around, up there, I might go do some camping at that location.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Animations from a Cherry Blossom Festival and a Bonus

Kin Town Sakura Matsuri 2017


Every once in awhile I spend a good 20 hour day, getting myself exhausted.

 GIFs from events that took place late yesterday, will give you an idea of the fun I have,

Fence post burning in a metal can, heat


It's been chilly and windy so, some heat was provided, under the festival tents.

If, you've ever burned a treated fence post, to keep warm, you'll know, why I stayed outside.

I don't know if those fumes are poisonous but, they sure don't smell too healthy, to me.


Okinawan women doing a Hawaiian Hula Dance


Okinawa has strong ties with Hawaii so, it's no surprise that hula dancing is popular.

There must be thousands of Okinawan families living on the Hawaiian Islands.

I'm no expert on dances but, they seem to have the movements down pat.

The gang in the sound and lighting tent, must have thought, I was nuts.

That music and gals dancing, got me wiggling around with my camera, dancing too !


A belly dancer doing her motions on a festival stage


They had a gang of belly dancing girls but, I thought this one was the most photogenic.

There was two groups of these dancers. Let's just call them the older and younger clans.

Elder's better if, you ask me. The young ones are skinny and wear false eyelashes. Yuck.

See, I figure the elder ones, don't want to get married and make babies.

For them, the dance is an art. Young ones are probably, looking to catch a rich guy. Hah.

When the skinny gals danced, I got way back and used the zoom lens on them.

My legs are sore today, from all the things I was doing, to keep the sound booth entertained.

From now on, I'll let the professionals, do the hula and belly dance, without me.


Children doing karate with weapons

There were children, of all ages, demonstrating their karate movements.

The weapons that guy and gal are using, are know as sai.

One end of the tool can be used to puncture you. Or, they can punch you with the other end. 

Many more images were made of the youngsters and their sensei.

As they get processes, I'll add some here or, to a Facebook album, at a later date.

From the festival grounds, I had to get back to my office and change camera lenses.


FEB 11 2017 full moon


Here's the Bonus



At 7:42 PM the clouds moved away from the moon and, I was ready for it.

At that point, I'd done a fair share of work but, had plenty more things to do.

The camera got downloaded and I threw the battery in a charger, to hurry out of here.

For a whole month, I hadn't been to any of the watering hole, drinking.

Last night, the wife and I, went on a bar hopping date, I guess you'd call it.

It was a blast, we must have hit 4 or 5 joints, drinking and singing karaoke.



At one place, I met a witch doctor (yuta) who joked and drank beer with me.

Mixing with the locals is part of my job and, that's how I learn plenty about the island culture.

The night went on and on and, by 2:30 the bride and I, decided to take a taxi home.

We were both having some trouble navigating but, no taxi cabs were available.

"It's only a five minute walk, downhill, to get home" I said. It took a bit longer.

We held on to each other and wobbled/rolled/ sort of stumbled to the house.

Once I got to the kitchen table, I looked at the clock. It was 3 in the morning.

That's how I figured out, it was another one of those 20 hour days.


PS One of my reliable contacts, told me, the moon will be bigger and brighter tonight.

Gotta run and get the camera ready !

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Animations of the Full Moon FEB 2017 Over Okinawa

Full Moon FEB 2017, GIF, clouds moving

Fast Moving Clouds



By Okinawa standards twelve degrees Celsius (53.6 Fahrenheit) is freezing weather. 

Laugh if, you want but, I had to bundle up like an Eskimo, to shoot these GIFs.




full-moon,clouds,GIF

Strong ocean breezes at those temperatures make you want to move somewhere else.

It was impossible for me, to get a clear shot of the whole moon last night.

The skies may improve somewhat tonight but, it's supposed to get, even colder.

Late this afternoon, I'll be going to a Cherry Blossom Festival.

It wasn't on my schedule, to go but, I found out something interesting about the event.

Belly dancers will be there. So, I guess I should cover it. The festival, I mean.

What would you rather see, belly dancers or more moon shots ?


Friday, February 10, 2017

Plant Images: Climbing Fig (Ficus pumila) AKA Creeping Rubber

Everybody Should Grow These


When I first started to research this plant, I thought it was some kind of fern.

There's a batch of them, covering part of the rock garden behind my office.

heart-shaped leaves, vines,Ficus pumila

This close-up photo may be a bit misleading. I should have stuck my thumb in there.

Five or six, of those tiny leaves, wouldn't cover a thumbnail. Hence, I figured they were ferns.


Vines of Climbing Fig on cement block wall

Walking around with a Canon G12, I spotted these, growing on a cement block wall.

Just going to grab some lunch, I decided to see how many of these plants, I could find.


Creeping Rubber vines on concrete wall

The leaves, are unmistakeable. Little, bumpy, heart-shaped things, I'd know anywhere.

They grow in places you'd never believe a plant could exist.


Vines growing on a rusted shutter

It looks like, as long as they get light and moisture, they can grow on any surface.

That rusted shutter door probably, hasn't been opened for at least a few months.


Climbing Fig growing on a tree

Here's an example of the vines, climbing up a tree trunk and, they'll reach the top, I bet.

Notice how the vines thicken as the plant matures.



Who Would Have Guessed ?


These climbing vines, make figs !

A few of the above photos, were sent to a Facebook Group for identification.

It's called "Determinatie van planten en dieren" whatever that means.

See, I don't speak Dutch but, they understand English and got me a scientific name.

Within a few hours, two members responded, "Ficus pumila."

Once I had a Latin name, the research was easy and, I learned plenty about this climber.


Ficus pumila fruit

In the lower right corner, are some baby leaves on the vine.

Centered, is what the mature leaves look like and, one of the fruits this plant produces.

The fruit was liberated from somebody's plant and, brought to my territory.

It was for a instructional purposes (higher education, let's say) so, that's not stealing. 

The fruit makes a tasty jelly, according to Eat the Weeds.

Cover your house with it if, you can't afford ivy to hide the walls from graffiti artists.

Okinawans use it to treat high blood pressure and diabetes. 



It's Fun Researching Plants


With a scientific, botanical or Latin nomenclature you can learn tons of good things.

Over at Philippine Medicinal Plants, I came up with valuable information. 

In China, they use the leaves of this plant for treating painful or swollen piles.

That's why I recommend "Everybody, grow this Climbing Fig."

Get some planted on the rocks behind your house, before the next family gathering.

When one of those relatives starts complaining about their rear end problems...

TELL THEM TO GO OUT, DROP THEIR DRAWERS AND SIT ON THAT ROCK !


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Okinawan Folktale: Sacrifice a Virgin

Image of a serpent and virgin girl, praying, full moon


Serpent of Yara Muruchi



Over 700 years ago an enormous, dragon-like serpent lived in Yara Muruchi Pond.

It was believed cycles of 7 months drought and 7 months of storms were caused by this monster.

King Gihon (1248-1260) consulted a shaman (yuta) concerning the problem.

The severe weather caused economic losses for the fisherman and farmers of the island.

The elderly woman, he talked to, was a person with extraordinary psychic powers.

She claimed, a 20 year old virgin girl, must be sacrificed to appease this demon of a dragon.

Then, farmers and fishermen, would have fair weather and the economic situation would improve.

The yuta told the king to have an altar and an incense burner built, overlooking the pond.

She would officiate (in private) rituals to placate the monster, serpent.

King Gihon, was already unpopular with the islanders because of economic losses.

Now, he had to devise a way to get someone's young daughter for a sacrifice.



Who Wants to Be a Millionaire ?




The king devised a plan, that would lessen his guilt in dealing with the wicked soothsayer.

He would insure, that no men would have to take part in the old woman's demonic rituals.

Couriers were dispatched throughout the kingdom, delivering messages to each village.

The family, willing to sacrifice a maiden, would live as royalty, the rest of their lives.




Filial Loyalty




One attractive young maiden stunned her family, volunteering to offer herself.


She would give her life in order to benefit family, community and country.

It may have driven her parents to madness but, it would end everyone's misery.

In a private meeting with the yuta, the girl was questioned extensively by the old woman.

She wanted to know the youngster's Zodiac sign, favorite foods, colors and fertility cycle.

From this conference, the shaman decided, when the sacrifice would take place.

It would be on the night of the full moon, during the sixth month, by the Lunar calendar.

Nervously the girl asked, “Will I be ravished, eaten alive or, both?”

The elder replied, “That is something, only the gods in heaven know.”

She was told to return on the appointed day before sunset, wearing her finest clothes.



Yara Muruchi Pond, altar, incense burner,woods



The Fateful Night




An hour before the sun went down the maiden arrived at Yara Muruchi.

She was met by the yuta, carrying a wicker basket, on the road above the pond.

The priestess assured the girl, no other villagers would witness the event.

It was a hot and humid summer night. Slowly they walked down the forest trail.

Their sandals stirred up scents of decaying leaves and, the buzzing of mosquitoes.

Cicada bugs chirped loudly in the trees surrounding the wooded area.

Nearing the pond, the priestess stopped, placing her basket on the ground.

She instructed the girl, to remove her undergarments fold them and put them on the altar.

Apprehensive as she was, she did as she was told.

No one disobeys or, questions a Ryukyu yuta.

The shaman brought her ritual container to the altar and placed some burning incense.

She sprinkled flower petals and liquid scents on the offerings and clapped her hands twice.

She ordered the girl, to walk near the water's to edge where she should stand and pray.

The yuta began muttering and praying, in some unintelligible language.

The water rippling in the pond, suddenly raged and roared, as the monster appeared.

High above the pond, it hissed and stared down at the girl.

The sound of her knees knocking, drowned out the noises forest insects had been making.

Imagine her prayer - “Just one big swallow, please!”

Then it happened. An angry god, tossed a golden sphere.

It hit the serpent in the head and exploded. The monster disappeared, never to be seen again.



Aftermath


The virgin was spared. She would become the bride of a royal prince.

Her family was invited to live in the castle and cared for, the remainder of their lives.

Periods of drought and floods ended and, the islands prospered once more.

Every year, on the 15th day of the 6th month, by the Chinese calendar a ritual takes place.

Villagers pray at the altar and, toss eggs (gold spheres) into Yara Muruchi pond.


More Okinawan Folklore

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

5 Tundra Bean Geese Landing

Migratory Visitors



Camera: Pentax K1

Lens: Pentax 300 + 1.4 Converter Focal Length 420MM

Exposure:  f/7.1   1/2500   ISO 400

Location:  Namisato District, Kin Town, Okinawa, Japam

Date and Time: Dec 14 2016  10:23AM


Saturday, February 4, 2017

2 Million Views -- In Less Than One Year

Screenshot from Google Maps 2 Million Views of photos

Email from Google Maps




Truthfully, I can't remember if, this started in March or April of 2016.

About once a week the Google Map dudes, send me an email, concerning my photos.

This time, they say over two million folks, have looked at my photos of Okinawa.

It would be nice if, each one of them, donated a dime, yuan or yen but, they don't.

They are mostly travelers, looking for places to visit and eat. Sometimes, they're lost.

They look at smartphones and, get directions from Google Maps.



Screenshot Level 5 Local Guide, Google Maps


Local Guide


They call me a Local Guide for Okinawa and the job is real easy, for me.

Whenever I travel around the islands, cameras go with me so, I do lots of shooting.

Major attractions, off the main roads, bars and restaurants, are my subjects.

After posting photos to Google Maps, I write a quick review about the site.

Travelers can ask questions about the place and, I'll give a simple answer.

"Do they have happy hour? Are pets allowed? Is the place wheelchair accessible?"

Online, each morning, I hit the answer blocks, with a "Yes, No or, I don't know."

Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, I got some silly questions.

"Do they have a fireplace here?"

It's a good thing, they don't let me say, what I'd really like to because, I'd get in trouble.

"Where are you asking this question from, ANOTHER PLANET?"

Anyhow, I decided to keep doing this local guide stuff for awhile longer.

It must have taken 5 years to get that many views on this blog !


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Animation: As the Sushi Goes By

sushi,counter,Japan,food,restaurant

Conveyor Belt Sushi


A couple of "firsts" happened to me today and, here's a GIF showing one of them.

Two of the loves in my life, brought me here, while we were waiting for something.

They happen to be a daughter and the wife, for those with curious minds.

The other "first" was an iPhone 7 plus that got added to my inventory.

The phone company had to download my android and, it would take awhile.

The new gadget is in my pocket and, the old one replaced the wife's antique flip phone.

Excuse me if, it seems like I'm in a hurry but, I have to get out of the office.

It seems, the gals, dropped me off and, I don't have the iPhone charger.

The idea, is to run home and, get this new gadget fired-up so, I can get back online.

Knowing, I'll have to teach the wife, her phone, while learning how to use mine, I'll be busy.

For those, who can't wait for a review of this outstanding sushi bar, look HERE.

More later...