Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flower Lovers and Fans An Iris Field For You ! (Photo)

Here it is April 1st, 2011.  It's April Fool's Day but,  I don't have anything to fool you with so, I'm just going to do a quick post, grab my cameras and get out in the sun to do some more shooting.

This photo was taken on April 5th of 2009 at the Iris Festival in Ogimi Okinawa, Japan using my trusted old friend the Panasonic DMC-FZ50, a Manfrotto 725B Tripod, and a few other tricks I'll share at a later date.

This morning I received an email I'd like to share with everyone.  It came from someone thanking me, and those of you who helped me, through various channels, get relief to the people suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in mainland Japan.  This is real, feel-good news.



Dear Michael,

Almost all of my family lives in Japan. So when the earthquake hit, I tried to help in every way I could, including by donating via text message to relief efforts.

But then I learned that text donations like mine could take up to 90 days to get there. I waited for days to learn that my family was safe, now others were waiting months for my donation!

So I launched a petition on calling on the phone companies to immediately deliver donations to Japan, the same way they did after the earthquake in Haiti.

It worked! Hundreds, then thousands added their voices. My senator, Barbara Boxer, took up the cause. I was interviewed by the major news programs in San Francisco, where I go to law school.

More than 66,000 of us (including you!) spoke out and now AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have finally agreed to expedite text-message donations to Japan.

Northern Japan has an incredibly difficult path to recovery -- the earthquake and tsunami both physically and financially devastated the affected areas -- and there’s a lot more that each of us can do. But the immediate transfer of donations is going to be of enormous assistance, and my hope is that this victory sets a pattern for how cell phone companies act during future disasters.

This all happened because, at the encouragement of a few friends, I started a petition. If there’s something you want to change, click here to start your own, and I’ll do my best to stand with you the way that you stood with me:

Thank you again. And please continue to keep the people of Japan in your thoughts and prayers.

Masaya Uchino, fellow member

Now, I don't know about you but, to me, that feels good, even great!  A reader of this blog got me involved in that petition and a bunch more of you participated, I know.  It made a big difference and it is getting more help, through to the people who desperately need it, quicker.  That's good!

Personally, I don't use a telephone for making donations.  But, for those who do, it is nice to know that your contributions are getting there without any delay, now that this stumbling block has been removed.

To everyone who supported this effort and the BLOG FOR JAPAN relief campaign,  I am grateful. 

This Iris Field is for you!

Weird White Long-haired Lizard-looking Creature (Photos)

Standing on a bridge in Okinawa, Japan as the sun was setting last night, I spotted this thing that appeared to be a feather from one of the white egrets we have flying around here.

          It caught my attention because when the wind stopped blowing, it didn't stop moving.

        Too get a better look, I unholstered my camera and zoomed-in on it.  It looked back at me.

Feathers don't have eyes.  So, I climbed down off the bridge and got as close as I could without falling in the river.  There's no telling what this creature might be.  All I know for sure is it isn't a feather.  It might be a bug, a lizard or some kind of ancient mutated minature dragon and I ain't telling anybody where it lives until some scientist tells me the scientific name of the creature.

If they don't have a name for this critter, I'll name it for them.  It'll be something like:

WIERD WHITE LONG-HAIRED LIZARD-LOOKING ANCIENT MINATURE DRAGONASARUS ryukyumikusjaponicus, or something like that.  You ever seen one ?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Naha The Capital City of Okinawa, Japan (Photos)

It isn't the largest Capital City I've seen but, Naha Okinawa has everything you'd expect to see when you go to any big town and maybe, a few things that would surprise you.  Here is a six photo sneak preview.

There's the OLD, like this wooden-framed, tile-roofed Mom and Pop Store which sells pottery.

There's the NEW, like the International Avenue (Kokusai-dori) with all the trappings and traffic you'd find in any city.

Fashion Shops where women can look at dummies wearing the latest over-priced garments.

There are all sorts of foods to eat, fast food, slow food, foreign foods, steak houses, noodle and ramen joints, cookie and candy shops, health food and junk food.  I like the local food.

Music?  Of course, every city has some sort of music and Naha has it all.  You can hear the latest Pop, Hip Hop, Jazz, Japanese Rap, or whatever they call that stuff young kids do.  Or, you may here some American 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and even newer stuff being piped through speakers in any one of the hundreds of stores, restuarants, coffee and tea shops lining the streets.

But, when I put on my Sunday-best to visit the city, I like to get off the main drag and stir up some of the local talent, like this Zukeyama Dude, I met.  He's playing a Sanshin but, it's not like the typical Sanshin (samisen) you've seen me post here, before.  This is a Sanshin made from an old cookie can.  It's called a Kankara Sanshin.

One of the things every Capitol City around the world should do is CLOSE DOWN MAIN STREET EVERY SUNDAY AFTERNOON LIKE WE DO IN NAHA OKINAWA, JAPAN.

That way, everybody could forget about spending all their money on over-priced junk and and get out in the street to do important stuff, like jumping jacks, or something, the way these girls did for the camera.

There's plenty more to see in Naha but,  I guess, I'm turning into more of a stay-at-home-traveler so, I don't get down that way very often. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wildlife Photos: The Kingfisher and Ten Quick Shots

Today I'm in a bit of a rush; people to see, places go and things to do so, I'm just throwing up these ten quick shots I took of a Kingfisher while walking my dogs at the beach one day in Okinawa, Japan.
Kingfishers can be pretty hard to shoot when you're not prepared and that's the way I was that day.

The best way to catch them would be have a tripod set up and stake out an area where you know they'll show.  Then wait.

This guy saw me coming and played hide and seek while watching me out of the corner of his eye as I tried to maneuver into a position where I could catch him in the right light.

And when he got tired of me sneaking around zooming in on him with a 500mm lens I guess he decided he had people to see, places to go and things to do, too.  So, he left and ended the photo shoot.

The next time I show you ten quick shots of a Kingfisher they'll be different.  I'll be ready.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Black-tailed Gull in Okinawa, Japan: What's Up With That? (Photos)

Sunday, March 20th 2011, I was on my way to the UNESCO Castle (Zakimi-jo) to take a few photos but, couldn't resist stopping along the way to see if any birds were along the shore.

Sometimes I'll spot osprey diving for fish but, the tide just wasn't right and it was cloudy so there wasn't much activity.  Totally unprepared was the mode I was in when this big bird swooped down out of nowhere and I grabbed the camera off the tripod firing away in bursts trying to catch, what I thought might have been an osprey.  It flew so close overhead, a few times, all I caught was a frame full of a blurred wing.

Once the speed demon landed, I knew I had something other than what I expected.  I'm fairly certain this is a Black-tailed Gull ( Larus crassirostris ) but posting this kinda hastily, before I forget.  The genuine bird experts will jump all over me if I'm wrong and I welcome them. Corrections can always be made.

It took me awhile but, I managed to catch the seagull in as many decent poses as I could to make a positive identification.  The true birder knows much more about these birds than I ever will.  They can tell if it's a male, female, its age and whether it's mating season, or not, just by looking at it from different angles. All I know for sure, is this is some kind of seagull.  And, get this:

                                                 SEAGULLS DON'T LIVE ON OKINAWA !

Every now and again a seagull might follow a ship from China, Korea or mainland Japan and visit here.  This is the first time, in all my years, I've ever spotted a seagull on Okinawa.

Way back when I was a college student, here, one of my professors told us the reason there are no seagulls on Okinawa.  There is something in the coastal waters related to the indigo dyeing process that kills these birds. So, if they followed a ship into port, they need to follow it back to wherever it came from unless they plan on spending the rest of their life on death row.

This bird wasn't near any seaport; no ships in site.  I hung around and shot lots of photos, just because I thought it was so unusual to see a seagull in Yomitan Okinawa, Japan. 

Well, yesterday I came across this PACIFIC WILDLIFE IMPACT FROM THE JAPANESE EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI article at Matador Change and it got me thinking, maybe these birds know something we don't know. 

Why did a Black-tailed Gull decide to move to Okinawa, Japan ?   What's up with that ?

How To Make A Direct Contribution To Japan's Earthquake/Tsunami Victims Blog4Japan

                                            Map Courtesy of WORLD ATLAS.Com

Today I'm borrowing some words from Todd Wassel. He is a blogger living in Japan, way to the north of where I am in Okinawa and much closer to the disasters. Both Todd and his wife have some experience in these matters and have gone to the trouble of putting together a list of legitimate sites (English language) that you could make contributions to in order to speed-up the recovery efforts for those affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

In Todd's own words:

"A few weeks ago I posted about my Experience During the Japan Earthquake and made a plea to my readers to spread the word about helping Japan recover. My wife is from Tokyo and we are both professional aid and recovery workers with the United Nations. We have seen the recovery phase of the 2004 Tsunami up close and we know there is a tremendous need to not only raise donations but to make sure those funds are used responsibly and are in the hands of organizations with not only technical expertise but also local knowledge." - End of quote...

This is me, now:

As I suspected, there have been hundreds of scammers taking advantage of the situation in Japan and I've heard complaints from folks making donations to well-established charities who can't seem to get funds to those in need in a timely manner.

I'm no expert on the regulations for the international transfer of charitable donations. There must be some reason why a Red Cross Donation, from a country anywhere in the world gets hung-up and can't be released immediately. Guaranteed, no politician or banker would let their family go without water, a slice of bread, a roof over their head or electricity, not even for one day.

So, here's the deal.  If you'd like to contribute something, directly, to the people on the ground, in Japan visit: TODD'S WANDERINGS and he has all the trusted sites lined up waiting for you.

Please help me spread the word.  I'm heading over to Todd's, right now, to kick in my share.

This post is my contribution to Blog For Japan.  If you are a Tweeterer #Blog4Japan is the way to help spread the word most efficiently.  If you are a blogger, get with Todd and Blog4Japan, too !


Here's where I went ADRA JAPAN and read their blog, looked at the photos and was sure my hard earned cash would be put to good use, immediately.  If you choose to go to their site where you can make a DONATION using your Visa or Mastercard that gets a little tricky, unless you're smarter than me.

There is a PDF you download and it gives you the translation telling you what goes in which box. Keep it handy and if you have a Google Translation bar, keep that handy, too. There are probably easier sites to donate to but, I liked what I saw these people doing so, I kept plugging away until I was sure they got my money.  I screwed up the forms a few dozen times.  I even have a Japanese wife who could probably have done in ten minutes what took me over an hour.  

Ya see, I'm stubborn as a mule.  I told the wife I'm doing something important; giving the people up in mainland Japan $20 to help them out. Then, I told her get outta here because I can't type on the computer with her and her dog yappin' in the background.  So, she left.

Truth be known, she really doesn't need to know, I have this plastic thing in my wallet that gives you money or she'll want one, too.  And, another thing. Twenty US Dollars is almost nothing in Japan nowadays so, I hit the plastic money thing for enough to make a difference to someone. Hah !

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday's Silly Sign (Photo) Hide Your Butts !

Here's one for ya.  Just to prove I don't make this stuff up,  I managed to get both the English and Japanese translations of the infographic in the frame of this photo. Location: Kokusai-dori Naha Okinawa, Japan.

Now I'm taking a wild guess here, but, I'd say if you don't want sewer rats peeking at your butt, you should probably watch where you stick it.   When in Japan be careful where you hide your butts. OK?

Flower (Photo) An Orange Hibiscus From Okinawa, Japan

Here's one for my flower loving friends. First thing this morning, heading to the big city, I asked my shooting partner, Doc (GOYAREPUBLIC), if he wanted to get some photos of this hibiscus before they disappear again.

Every morning, when I walk my dogs to the beach I pass by this hibiscus plant. When it blooms it has some beautiful flowers. Early morning is when the light hits them just right. Lately, we've been having some cloudy and rainy days. It always seems when the light is right, either I don't have my camera with me, or the darn thing isn't blooming.

Yesterday, when I walked the three mutts by the place, I saw this gigantic flower blooming, the sun was hitting it perfectly and there was no wind blowing. 

So, I walked the dogs real fast.  I was going to take them home and grab a camera to shoot the hibiscus.

By the time I got home, the weather turned miserable.  So, I turned miserable, too.  That's what I do.

Today, two of us, with a car full of cameras drove out of our way to snag some shots.  We were headed to Naha, the capital of Okinawa. The first thing we shot before leaving my village was this flower.  It was cloudy and windy but, it had to be done today. 

Sometimes, with an assistant, you can make shots that would be impossible when you are alone. 

At least one person can keep an eye out for the police.  That's if someone calls them because they don't want you on their property, shootin' their flowers.  It was Sunday morning, over here so, I think everybody was still sleeping. Nobody bothered us and we got the flower shots and escaped. Hah !

And, what a day it turned out to be.  I got a pile of Sunday Silly Signs photos for future posts.  Some great shots of Okinawan Sanshin, even a dude playing one for us.  Eisa Dancers, in conjunction with an FM Radio Station, were performing right in front of my camera.  They were helping raise relief funds for the disaster victims up around Sendai, Japan and, I even took some food photos.  So, there's enough pictures for me to post here, even if I don't get out with the camera for another week.

For now, this Orange Hibiscus will have to do the trick.  I started researching, because I like to find scientific names for all these things but, with over 200 kinds of Hibiscus, I'm lost.  You could name it the Orange Hibiscus from Okinawa owned by the people who sleep late on Sunday and don't call the police because they didn't know two foreigners were in their yard taking pictures if you want to, I guess.








Friday, March 25, 2011

Earth Hour 26 March 2011: A Global Event (Photo)

The big event takes place this Saturday, 26 March 2011 and I just found out about it so, I went and shot this photo of my globe for you. National Geographic sends me a daily email about what's going on around the world in their Intelligent Travel Blog. I saw something about Earth Hour started back about 2007 in Australia.

Well, either the Intelligent Travel Blog or me is being hacked my some spammers. I can't read the whole article because some frickin' pop-up keeps poppin-up on their site. It won't let me scroll down the page to read the whole story. Somebody give them a holler for me, OK ?

Our good friends at WIKIPEDIA give some history about Earth Hour and tell you which countries around the world have been participating, how many people turned off their lights and give you all kinds of links on the subject.  They say 8:30 to 9:30 this Saturday night is when the event takes place.

If you go the EARTH HOUR HOMEPAGE they plan on taking the global event beyond one hour to demonstrate their concern for the people going through the disasters in Japan.  That sounds like a great idea to me. "日本の皆さん、勇気を持って頑張って下さい"
I borrowed that phrase from the Earth Hour people because it's too hard for me to type. It means "Japan hang-in there", I think.

To me, Earth Hour should be every hour, everyday.  Just like I think World Water Day should be everyday. But, tonight I'll do something special for this global event, just to show my support.

Normally, I unscrew half the lightbulbs to try and keep my electric bill down. It drives the Missus absolutely bananas. I'm going to unscrew a few more and, if I think I can get away with it, unplug the refridgerator for a couple of hours, too. Hah !

Now don't go overboard and burn your house down stumbling around in the dark with lit candles but, let me know what you plan on doing for Earth Hour this Saturday night.

Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wildlife Photo: Black-winged Stilts in Flight (Himantopus himantopus)

The Black-winged Stilts are just visitors during, the winter, to Okinawa, Japan. Sometime this month, they'll depart, if they haven't already. It's Friday here and I'll be out with the camera all weekend to see what migratory birds we have left.

This photo taken with a Pentax K10D and Sigma 50-500mm lens February 5, 2011 at the Okukubi River.

Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Travel Photo Thursday: Okinawa's Hand Cultivated Rice

        This photo was taken on the outskirts of a small village named Yaka in Okinawa, Japan.

There are some small tractors and tillers used in preparing the rice fields but, planting, cultivating and much of the harvesting is manual labor.  No one would complain about the high price of a bag of rice in Japan if they experienced the hours of labor expended in its production. You can taste the effort involved.

What's Wrong With That Picture? (Photo) Horse at a Beach

Let me explain.  This horse is safe and sound from predators.  It is on a beach in Okinawa, Japan. 

There's been some confusion, in the past, when I ask "What's Wrong With That Picture".  I don't want to know what's wrong with my photo.  I want to know what's wrong with the picture (you may have to use some imagination) in the TRUE STORY I'm about to give you.

Today's What's Wrong With That Picture comes from South Carolina, USA and it happened somewhere in the vicinity of Myrtle Beach.  It also, involves a horse.

This guy will probably never get hired-on by the mounted police department of any country in the world.  He only mounts one horse and it's not the way most policemen would go about it.

Twice, this individual has pleaded guilty to mounting a horse for something the courts call buggery, once in 2007 then again (with the same horse) in 2009. 

There's a photo of this character provided by the Horry County Detention Center so, if you see him sneaking around your stables (because some genius turned him loose),  LOCK THE DOORS AND CALL THE POLICE !

Now, I don't want to know what's wrong with the picture the Horry County people gave us either.

What I'd like, is for you to read this CRIME AND JUSTICE story in the Charleston Observer and think about it for a minute or two.  Then, tell me, WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT PICTURE ?

Earthquakes, Oil Spills, Tsunamis, Nuclear Disasters and Coal

Alright, I'm not exactly a rocket scientist or even a rock scientist but, I know a few people who qualify.

                                                                                       Image credit: Jason Louv

First, I want to share some information a friend sent me today. It may help answer questions about Japan's Nuclear Disaster for those living in Japan or worried about which way the wind is blowing around the world.  We'll call this the US GOVERNMENT MADE EASY Site just for the heck of it.

They are advising some folks to leave the area around the Fukushima Power Plant and Japan as well as advising people not to travel to Japan. I'm staying put because Okinawa, Japan is where I happen to live.

Some people have been given Potassium Iodide (KI) and I know there's been a buying spree going on by folks along the west coast of the USA.  DON'T PANIC !  Those people just do whatever is fashionable.

The poor souls given potassium pills by the government and their employers have been told, GET THIS:
 DO NOT TO EAT THE STUFF until it is required and even then you better be careful; you could get sick!

See, there are health risks if you start taking drugs your body doesn't need. All the information you need is in the link above. It is in English, Spanish and you can get Google to translate it into any other language.

Next, I'll bet earthquakes and tsunamis are more than likely going to happen, along with hurricanes, typhoons, forest fires, cow paddies, elephant farts, frogs croaking, babies barfing and whatever other natural disasters Mother Nature decides to cook up for us, as long as we occupy this planet. 

We will never be able to control nature.

We do have control over mining and burning coal and uranium, drilling for oil and polluting air and water.

It's up there in the sky.

We should listen to the Rocket Scientists and start "Drilling Up, Not Down" is what I'm starting to think. 

How about you?




Tuesday, March 22, 2011

World Water Day 2011 (Photo)

Someone has to start reminding me a little earlier each year, WORLD WATER DAY 2011 is today March 22nd.   As a Wildlife Photographer living in Okinawa, Japan, everyday is World Water Day, to me.

                                                           HAPPY WORLD WATER DAY !

Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY

Wildlife Photos: Osprey, Fish and Lickiddy Split

                                                 When an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

osprey flying with fish

                                                            Catches a Fish: TILAPIA

osprey, bird, fish

                                                                 He's heading home

osprey flys with fish

                                                                       Lickiddy split

These photos were taken March 5, 2011 at around 5PM using a Pentax K10D and Sigma 50-500mm lens.  Location: Okukubi River Kin Village Okinawa, Japan.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Taylor Anderson is in Heaven

            My heart goes out to Andy and Jean Anderson for the tragic loss of their daughter, Taylor.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday's Silly Sign (Photo) from Okinawa, Japan

This gem of a Sunday Silly Sign was actually a photo I took on a Sunday.  That was yesterday, right about noon, local Japan Standard Time (JST).

The photo was shot inside one of the UNECSO World Heritage Castle Parks.  I zoomed-in nice and close so I could crop out all the fancy Japanese writing.  I don't get paid to translate that stuff.  So, I don't.

The sign looks fairly self-explanatory, to me.  But, you never know.  It may be confusing to some people.
I figured it meant something like, No Dogs Allowed and some other stuff.  Silly me.

As I was leaving the park, some gal was walking her dog up the hill, right past at least two of these signs. She was a local so, I figure she can read the bold print on the things.

It was a humongous dog, too.  I don't reckon the dog was a seeing-eye-dog or anything like that because she let the critter off his leash.

Maybe, they just don't want little puppies running around inside the castle park and full grown Rotweillers, Great Danes, German Shepherds and Huskies are OK with the folks at UNESCO.

Something must be lost in my translation. Now, I'm starting to wonder if I guessed wrong as to what that is behind the puppy.  It could be some kinda chocolate chip candy or soft ice cream cone UNESCO doesn't want people bringing in their parks.

If you are anything like me and don't like little puppies or kids running around your yard littering the lawn with chocolate kisses, go ahead, download and print this Sunday Silly Sign and post copies all over your property.  That's what I think I'll do at my house.  After all, man's home should be like, some sorta castle !

You might also like Mr. Coffee, Now You Dunnit

Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY

Flower (Photo) Just a Single Sunflower and a Bee

Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY

Friday, March 18, 2011

Find an American Girl in Japan (Photo)

This is Taylor Anderson, an American girl from North Carolina.  She teaches in Japan.

She was in the area of the earthquake and tsunami.

Her father and I have email contact with each other.

No one has heard from her or seen her in the past week.

The town of Ishinomaki was hit hard by the disaster but, reports indicate, the area she would have been traveling through as the tsunami hit was relatively unharmed.

I can tell you, having a daughter missing for over a week is pure torture that no parent should ever have to experience.

The Embassies of Japan and the USA are busy with lots of things right now, I know.

Everyone is busy.  I just want to help the Andersons find their daughter.

An American girl in Japan stands out in the crowd.  So, if you can spare five minutes, help me circulate this photo and find Taylor Anderson.

More detailed information is available at MATADOR PULSE and I may be reached through my Facebook page Mike's Ryukyu Gallery. Thank you for your support.

This link, if you scroll down, gives the best updates JAPAN PERSON FINDER with information from friends and coworkers searching, on the ground, for Taylor Anderson. There is still hope!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish and When They've Had Enough to Drink (Photo)

An Irishman has had enough to drink......

                                                                                                          ......when his feet leave the planet.

                                                                HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY !

Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Utaki The Sacred Sites of Okinawa (Photos)

      Today for Travel Photo Thursday I'd like to introduce you to Okinawa's Sacred Sites, Utaki.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of sacred sites located throughout the islands of Okinawa, Japan.

The most popular Utaki are UNESCO World Heritage Sites or within the sites, such as the photos I'm showing you today. The women above are making offerings at a sacred well, within the walls of UNESCO Nakagusuku Castle.

A grove of trees, source of water, stone and a hill all seem to be common themes for Utaki.  Sometimes, there is a small building at the site. It may resemble a shrine or miniature temple but, not an elaborate, brightly-colored shrine you'd see at a Buddhist Temple. We have a few of those, too.

Okinawans are ancestor worshipers. The religion here is a combination of many things. There are several gods in nature and Animism, Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism all play a part in the spiritualism on these islands.

Many Utaki, I have come across, are in remote areas, not necessarily on a hill.  Some are found in villages and not in heavily wooded areas.  Most of them will not have signs written in English.

Whenever you see women in the middle of nowhere or in front of a small shrine, or even a pile of rocks, with trays of food, such as rice balls, fruits, something to drink and smell incense burning, you can be sure of one thing.  They aren't having a picnic.  They are more than likely worshipping at an Utaki.

Discrete would be my advice if you happen to come across people worshipping in any culture.  These women consented to my taking their photos because I speak their dialect.  So, I did the silver-tongue work and got Doc Graff, the other Cameraman to handle the manual labor of helping the gals up and down some dangerous stairs. Hah!

For more information on The Sacred Sites of Okinawa visit UTAKI

How Far from Japan's Disaster and Fukushima Nuclear Powerplant is Okinawa?

                                            Map Courtesy of WORLD ATLAS.Com

Here is a map to give those concerned with the distance between Okinawa and Fukushima, Japan a better idea of how far away from the disaster we are in this southernmost Prefecture.

The distance from Okinawa to Fukushima is 1151 miles or 1852 kilometers according to the good folks I met at TRUE KNOWLEDGE.COM.

Having just finished a few hours trying to find accurate links to post here for those who have been visiting my site and telling me the difficulties they've had researching the same things, now I know. It isn't easy sorting through all the information. There's way too much and what you may find isn't always accurate.

If you have friends or family living in Okinawa they are probably a lot farther away from the nearest nuclear power plant than you may be. If I thought any nuclear stuff was headed this way I'd run like a chicken because I don't want to find out if I'm allergic to the stuff. We're all safe. OK?

For those who'd like a bigger Google Map and want to scroll, enlarge and all that fancy stuff ( I don't know how to use) I got you this link from MAPLANDIA.COM .  They call it Ryukiu Islands Region (We call it Ryukyu Islands) so, I have no idea where they came from but, it is a great map. The red thing dead center on the map shows Naha, the capitol of Okinawa.

You can click on that red dot and drag your mouse to the south and go all the way up north, above Fukushima and Sendai, if you want to. I'll be going to try it again as soon as I finish this blog.

One more source I found, you might like is GIDEON RACHMAN'S BLOG. They use a different kind of English than me, too. Maybe he's from England or somewhere like that. But, he has updates continuously so, I'm keeping this site bookmarked, even if I have to ask one of my friends from the UK to translate for me.


Hopefully, this gives everyone a better picture as to how far away Okinawa is from Fukushima and let's all hope there is no disaster to worry about at, or near, anyone's nuclear power plant.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kijimuna Sightings in Okinawa, Japan (Photos) Be Proud !

          This little guy may be seen almost anywhere you go in Okinawa, Japan.  He is Kijimuna.

Kijimuna is a mischievous character in Okinawan folklore. He can be a friend or foe, depending on which folk tale you want to believe. There are too many versions of the story out there for me to explain here so, I'll just give you some of the generally accepted stuff.

Everybody agrees the guy is a red-headed munchkin who lives in trees, loves to go fishing and is friendly. Sometimes he helps you and sometimes he causes disaster.  He can bring you good luck or bad luck.

                          Here you see four Kijimunas (all males) performing onstage at a festival.

                And here we have a couple, a Mr. and Mrs. Kijimuna sitting on a park bench.

Some versions of the Kijimuna story will tell you that the character helps you catch lots of fish but, he only wants the fish eyes. He takes them and lets you have the catch.

There are several tales of Kijimuna bringing both good luck and bad luck to people he encounters and most of them will tell you, two things a Kijimuna hates are Octopus and Breaking Wind. 

Anytime you want to get rid of them, when they're being mischievous, toss one of those in their direction.

There are other versions, I can't recall whether I read them somewhere, heard them while sitting around a campfire, or in one of the few barrooms I've visited over the years. The old wise men just don't write.

They would disagree with the Breaking Wind theory and tell you otherwise.

Call it the Okinawan Ben Franklin Kijimuna Theory, if you like.  Some people believe, the proper way to greet a Kijimuna when you have a sighting is to BE PROUD AND FART LOUD.

This theory has been exhaustively tested by yours truly in the field and I'm proud to announce, none of my Kijimuna sightings, anywhere in Okinawa, Japan has ever lead to bad luck, misfortune or disaster for me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to run home and stir a pot of beans I've been cooking for a few days.

Okinawa Then and Now (Photos) The Stone Lion of Tomori

       This photo was taken during the Battle of Okinawa sometime between April and June of 1945.

         This is the scene as I saw it in September of 2009. The Statue is the Stone Lion of Tomori.

           The Stone Lion of Tomori in Okinawa, Japan was featured in an article by Keith Graff in

                                                    APOGEE PHOTO MAGAZINE

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