Monday, December 31, 2012

Redneck Stuff: Barrel Bolt Your Car Doors (Photos)

Treasure Spotted in Okinawa Japan


This car parked next to me yesterday in the hills of Urasoe, Okinawa, Japan.

Within minutes, the owner and I were friends.

The lock, hanging off the driver's door caught my attention.

That's how I came to know Kinjo.

It's best to ask for permission to shoot someone's personal property with a camera.

It wouldn't be nice to call somebody you just met a redneck.

So, I just told Kinjo, I'd love some photos of this barrel bolt and lock for my blog.

He let me fire away.  You could tell he was really proud of his invention.

That's proof, to me, that great minds think alike.

It's a four door automobile.

Only one door has this contraption hanging off of it.

Once you lock that barrel bolt, nobody can get the driver's door open.

We really don't have car thieves around the hills of Okinawa.

So, I figure the lock on the driver's side is for some other reason than, keeping thieves out.

Like, maybe he doesn't want someone with his keys driving the car.

When you first meet someone, it isn't polite to ask a bunch of personal questions.

So, I didn't.

But, it got me wondering.

Do you suppose, maybe his wife has blonde-colored hair ?

Anyway, I took the time to research a little bit for you, in case you'd like to barrel bolt your buggy.

You could probably do this redneck stuff to all four of your car doors for under a hundred bucks !

Visit the Redneck Stuff Page any time you're looking for tools or parts for your car.

The Santa Gal will be leaving soon so, don't forget to stop by and see her.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

In the Spotlight: Two Wakamizu Beauties

Meet Shingaki Sanae and Teruya Mami.

They were part of the Okinawan ritual known as Wakamizu.

Plenty of other beautiful ladies in kimonos were at Shuri Castle for the event.

But, these two were the only ones I had time to get model releases from.

Hundreds of photos taken over the past two weekends are waiting development.

And, there is lots of research to be done on this cultural event.

It happens only once a year in Okinawa, Japan.

The story will have to wait.  Wet cameras an old whiskers need to be dried.

Then, I have to email these beauties their photos.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Breaking News: Cherry Blossoms (桜) Blooming !

OkiNinjaKitty Spots Them First


This is big news and we're all glad to hear it because that means we've had our coldest day.

Of course, that's if you believe local legends.

This photo was dragged-up out of my files.  It's from a previous year.

The little bird is Japanese White Eye.

They are fairly jittery birds and won't give your camera a chance to focus, before they move-on.

But, during Cherry Blossom Season, I swear, they get drunk, or something.

It's a whole lot easier to get great shots of them when they are around Cherry Blossoms.

Sometimes, they actually pose for you.

The first photos I've seen (this season) of the Sakura (桜) Blossoms on Mount Yadake are here:

 Go on over and congratulate her and Like her, if you have time.

If you happen to be a real Cherry Blossom fanatic, I have some links for you.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 in Okinawa Japan: A Digital Photo Review

A Month by Month Chronological Photo Essay 


It's impossible to post all of the sights seen, in one year on the Ryukyu Islands, here.

So, the random-pick-a-monthly-photo method was used, to browse through 30,000 files.


 The Fukugawa Waterfall

The Cherry Blossom Season was what you might call "too little, too late" in 2012.

So, we did some off the beaten path things with the cameras.


Cherry Blossoms Cornered at a Sacred Site

This had to be the prettiest cherry tree, to be found so, it had to be photographed.

Had the woman in the village office not given permission to shoot, I'm afraid.....

.....her words would have fallen upon deaf ears.


Iris Festival 2012

Cherry Blossoms bloom during the winter months, in Okinawa.

The Iris Festival, though, is a sure sign of spring.

When the Iris flowers bloom, every kind of flower imaginable, gets the word.

And, everything starts blooming.  Yea !


An Okinawan Mineo Band

On occasion (ahem-ahum) Ryukyu Dudes get invited to these night time events.

Well, this one likes to drink.  But, takes photography too seriously.

So, no drinking takes place 'til after the shooting is done.

Anyway, somebody got drunk, that night and left my umbrella on the bus.

Well, I know the guy who was driving and will hunt him down. 

Where's my umbrella ?


Shuri Castle Gate

This photo was taken to use in the Okinawa Then and Now Series.

The girls were paid for posing but, they got framed prints of the photos, too.


Itoman Dragonboat Races

This was a most unforgettable experience.  

See, I have this notion that it's a good idea to mingle with the locals.

So, RyukyuRusty and I went down to Itoman the night before the event.

We partied with the people 'til the wee hours and got some sleep at the fishing port.

Well, the next day, one of us had a little run-in with the law.

Ain't sayin' who it was, cuz his Mom reads this stuff !


Red-headed Egret

These characters are called Cattle Egrets. 2012 was the first year I saw any around my town.

Now, I'm not sure if they just started migrating to Okinawa or, are always here.

We had dozens of them flying around.  But, there were no cattle with them.

They were easy pickings, with the Sigma 50-500mm

And one of them made it to Finalist in a photo contest for me.


The Terns of Komaka-jima

Some of the craziest things happen when you leave your biggest lens at home.

Three of us traveled to Komaka-jima to check the island out.

RyukyuRusty and the Map It Okinawa Dude went all over, exploring the place.  Not me.

These birds, from Australia, kept me busy, the whole time we were there.

And all I had on the Pentax, to shoot with, was an 18-250mm lens.

We will have to go back there next year.  That's because two of us are travel writers.

We sort of forgot something.  I need to make a checklist so we don't forget again.

People need to know if the crappers work !


Ie-Shima at Sunset

Sunset photography can be tricky when clouds hug the horizon and block out the show.

But, every once in awhile, the sky turns some cool colors.

This sunset, from Motobu Peninsula gave me a great silhouette of Ie-Shima.


The Character

If there was an award for Character of the Year, my vote would go for this kid.

Two framed prints were sent to the school, one for the main office and, one for the parents.

But, I still have no idea who he or, she might be !


On the Prowl

Firing away, in burst mode, at a fast-flying Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle got me this shot.

When you are panning the camera and, the sun lights up that gold eyeball, you know it.

Instinctively, you know, you have nailed a great shot.

The jury is not out, yet, on this one. The verdict, for the contest, is still pending.


Ladies in Waiting

That's a title, I just made up.  This photo isn't going in any contest.

Right now, we are working on a big story.

It takes place over the course of two weekends. And, we're only half way there.

In a centuries-old Ryukyuan tradition, water is drawn from two separate locations on Okinawa.

Then, it is mixed and presented at a shrine in Shuri Castle.

The young ladies above, are waiting for it to start.

See the one on the left smiling ?

Well, I'm not sure if she knows me or, was just laughing because my beard got caught in the tripod !

Different Shades of Ridea: Selective Coloration

Last night we were at the Live House watching Ridea perform.

Not real wild about the way shadows, colors and light turned out, I tried something new today.

Using the original photo (top above) I ran it through Selective Coloration in Adobe Elements.

Only, I told the thing to leave her lips alone.

You'll have to decide which shades of Ridea you like best.

Meanwhile, I'll be busy trying to chase that band down, to get model releases signed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Travel Photo of the Week: Camera Crowd in Hedo

This photo was taken in the Village of Hedo, Okinawa, Japan.

Sunday December 23, 2012 was a special day for the folks up there.

Busloads of culture and history enthusiasts showed up and plenty of cameramen came, too.

The attraction was the reenactment of a ritual from the old Ryukyu Kingdom.

Sometimes, when you are at these cultural events, there is plenty of free time.

Traveling a long distance and waiting for things to get started isn't a lot of fun.

So, what many of the photographers do, is start shooting each other.

That's what the camera crowd did in Hedo this past weekend.

And, I got pictures to prove it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wildlife Photo: Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

This bird, with a fancy hairdo was found in a flooded field at Kin Village, Okinawa, Japan.

The Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) has some awesome bright colors.

They eat worms.

So, I plan on telling Mrs. RyukyuMike what she should start doing.

Instead of buying all that hair color, which stinks, and costs me money, she should do like these birds.


Learn more about Lapwings at ARKive

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wildlife Photo: Tadorna tadorna a Common Shelduck

This Common Shelduck was spotted in Kin Village, Okinawa, Japan.

Fairly large, for a duck, they look like some sort of goose, in flight.

They must be a common sight over in Ireland and the UK. We don't see many around here.

Check out the photos over at BIRDGUIDES.

Birdlife International can tell you all you'll ever need to know about the critters.

Visit my homepage for today's Feature Photo

Friday, December 21, 2012

Look at Luxury: Ryukyu Onsen in a Photo Essay

Senagajima Gets a New Hotel


These photos were taken yesterday on Okinawa's Senaga Island.

The Ryukyu Onsen Grand Opening is today.

What you are looking at is a brand new hot spring resort in the Ryukyu Islands.

 It's so close to Naha International Airport you can see the planes take-off and land.

You could hop off your flight, grab your luggage and be there in less than 20 minutes !

 A friendly staff is waiting to assist you and show you around.

They have over 100 rooms for guests.

The place is full of surprises.

Massage Service, Body Salon, Public Bath, Sauna, Conference Room, Banquet Hall, Outdoor

 Swimming Pool  and a Japanese Outdoor Bath, are just a few of the goodies offered.

Pets are allowed, too.

Guaranteed to be popular, is the Lunch Buffet.

Whenever you see a sign that says Lunch Viking style that means:

Help yourself to All You Can Eat !

Lockers are provided for only 100 yen.

And get this.  When you are done using them, your money comes back to you !

Ready for the Grand Opening, bouquets of flowers were on display, everywhere.

When Mrs. RyukyuMike finds out about this resort, I'll have to take her there.

First, I'll have to ask them where they'll keep my Huskies.

Once everybody gets settled, I'm going to jump in that onsen and live in luxury !

Take a Video Tour Courtesy of OkiNinjaKitty !

Visit my homepage for today's Feature Photo

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Flower Photos: Morning Glory You Can't Argue About

More Than 1000 Species of Morning Glories

These photos were taken outside the Ginowan Museum in Okinawa, Japan.

Plenty of the visitors to this blog come to look at flowers, ferns and trees.

So, I'm always on the lookout for new plants to show them.

Being, like a regular guy, I have no clue what I'm shooting, other than, it's some sort of flower.

If you asked me what a pansy was, I'd probably tell you, 

"A guy who runs from a bar fight."

In other words, when it comes to flowers, I'm no expert.

What I have to do, is shoot them first and ask questions later.

 Lucky, for me, there were two gardener ladies watching me take these photos.

When I asked them what the name of the flowers were, they both said, "Asago."

That's good enough for me.

Just for the heck of it, when I got inside the museum, I spotted a pretty, young girl.

And, showed her the pictures, to see what she called the flowers.

She called them Asago, too.

Three, out of three women, in Okinawa, Japan say this flower is an Asago.

They can't be wrong.

Asago Means Morning Glory

The word for Morning Glory, in Japanese, is Asago.

Back in June of last year, I thoroughly researched these flowers.

That's when I discovered over 1000 types of the flowering characters exist.

But, all the flower scientists tell you, Morning Glories grow on vines.

Not these puppies in Okinawa !

Look at the photos closely.  They are on some kind of wooden stems.  No vines.

Now, scientists, I ain't afraid to argue with.  Bringum on.

Okinawan women, that's another story.

If I didn't learn anything else in my life, there's one thing I know for sure.

You don't argue with an Okinawan woman.

Okinawa is the home of karate.

And, some of those gals carry weapons in their hair.

Did I ever tell you about that time a farmer's daughter came out of the sugar cane field ?

She started to hop on the back of my motor scooter.

The farmer's wife came out of the field, swinging her knife. More about that another time.

Those flowers are Morning Glories.

I'm positive !

The Flower Experts need to visit Okinawa and get updated.

Visit my homepage for today's Feature Photo

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Travel Agent Academy: River Cruises

River Cruises Have Ocean Liners Beat

That piece of paper I got today was the toughest course I've had at the Travel Agent Academy.

What happened, was, I thought I'd get educated on river boats in Asia.

That's because I saw some cool boat pictures from a travel site in Malaysia.

Asia, happens to be where I spend most of my life.

To become a River Cruise Specialist, you have to study the whole world.


It was like taking all the World History and Geography classes I ever had and,


Today, I saw Europe, Russia, Egypt and all the places in Asia where big boats don't go.

Not only did I learn about the longest rivers in Europe, Russia and China.

They even told me where General George Patton is buried.

And, now I know where the biggest parliament building in the world is located.

River Cruises Are in Demand


People want to get off the beaten path to experience something different and new.

It's an exploding market worth, learning about so, that's why I went back to school.

Banged my head, a few times but, I gotterdun !

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Children's Books and Wildlife Photography

Books for Children 

Writers of the world need to hear about this. Kids books is a 2.7 billion dollar industry.

We should stop worrying about making our blogs and websites fit little screens.

Kindle, Android, iPods, iPhones, Smart Phones and all that mobile stuff, Hah !

Little kids can't take those mobile devices in the bathtub.  Can they ?

 Children should have waterproof books with wildlife photos in them.

And, writers shouldn't have to make their websites responsive to those crazy gadgets.

Turn all that stuff off and spend some time teaching kids about nature and real life.

 Birds in the wild don't look at a monitor to find out where to eat.

They have to search for food, sneak up on it and grab some.

Sort of like those poor people who go on TV reality shows, only this is real.

While the kids are soaking and splashing in the tub, they could be learning.

The girl bird looks at the boy.

He has something stuck on his nose.

In bird-talk she probably says, "Let me get that Honey."

And, he lets her have it. 

If the kid asks you what it was, tell the truth.

 Just say, "I don't know, probably a bugger."

Children ask all sorts of questions.

They may want to know what kind of birds they were, too.

Just tell them after they get done drying everything, including the book,

"Go Google it"  !

If you are a writer, you might consider getting into the children's book business.

It could be a goldmine for you. Not me.  I have no imagination.

Visit my homepage for today's Feature Photo

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Maw, We Better Dust Off The Dancin' Shoes !

Ridea's Coming to Town

It was such a thrill running across this poster, I grabbed it and stuffed it in my pocket.

Getting all the wrinkles out takes too long. I have to pass the word quickly.

Ridea, will be here, at the Live House December 26, 2012.

Me and Maw, we need to get our dancin' shoes ready, now.

That Sweetheart of a Gal is in Tokyo Somewhere


Those city-slicker folks got her playin' concerts, far away from here.

Poor girl, only gets to come back to the Ryukyu Islands on weekends.

She's gonna be a superstar.  I know it.

So, me and the missus are making reservations.

We're goin dancin' that night.

And, I'll see if I can get an autograph from Ridea.

Maybe, even get someone in there with a video camera. 

Those city boys probably aren't aware of this.

Rednecks know some smooth moves, too !

Just to be on the safe side, look for Ridea here.

We even got a picture of my Dancing Queen in that department.

Inscribed in Stone US Navy on Ojima in Okinawa

Ojima, part of Nanjo City, is separated from the main island of Okinawa, Japan.

By bridge, it doesn't take a minute of driving and you can say, "I'm off Okinawa and on another island."

This inscription, on a stone at the end of the bridge indicates the US Navy was there.

Patrol Squadron Four must have been there from 1960-1964.

At least, that's what is written in stone, would have you believe.

So, I shot this photo to remind me it needed some research.

Ojima, Oojima, Oshima, or, Ou Island, whatever you want to call it, is really small.

A person could walk the whole island in less than one hour. 

It's impossible to get lost, for more than twenty minutes, I know.

That's because I tried it several times. 

Knowing the US Navy has some humongous boats, I figured, they must have kept small ones here.

Like maybe, PT boats.  I think that's navy talk for little patrol boats.

I saw them in a movie once and know they would fit in the small harbor at Ojima.

Big battleships and aircraft carriers wouldn't be able to squeeze in the port here.

Online Search US Navy Patrol Squadron Four


Holy Mackerels, they were some kind of airplane bomber squadron !

They were stationed at Naha, Okinawa from 1956 until 1964.

"From this base, the squadron flew reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) missions

 to counter the Communist Chinese threat to the islands of Matsu and Quemoy."

They call themselves The Skinny Dragons.

Geographically Speaking 

Naha, is on the west coast of Okinawa.  That would be facing China.

Ojima, happens to be off the east coast of Okinawa.

Now, I'm wondering.  What were those Navy guys doing over there ?

Being it is the Chinese Year of the Dragon, I'll try and solve the mystery before year's end.

Maybe, some old Navy guy remembers.  We'll see...