Saturday, August 31, 2013

Do Not Be Disturbed by the Silence of the Drums

August May Be Ending But Eisa Dances Go On


The village streets in Okinawa, become quiet again at night, when Obon is over.

But Eisa may be viewed and, listened to, throughout the year.

male Eisa performer with small drum

An invitation to attend the Orion Beer Festival this weekend was politely declined.

Eisa groups from throughout the Ryukyu Islands perform so, I was tempted to go.

However, I still have hundreds (maybe thousands) of photos waiting processing and delivery.

There's really no need to go driving to the big city, at night to see Eisa.

Sitting in the comfort of an air-conditioned office, I watched this video three times. 

It was produced by a good friend and, an award-winning film maker, Robert Avery.

If the silence of the drums is bugging you or, you have never witnessed Eisa, check it out.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Bridge with Bougainvillea and Wagon Wheels

bridge, bougainvillea, wagon wheels

What more could you ask for ?

The recently, re-opened Southeast Botanical Gardens has it all.

We just made a quick trip through about half the place and called it a day.

It was so hot, I couldn't get the fish to jump out of water.

The place had been closed for a few years and, I really missed it.

It seems like it will be a while before the attraction gets restored to what it was years ago.

When they get signs on all the plants and flowers, I can spend weeks there.

That's because they write the names in English, Japanese and, Latin.

Imagine, being able to shoot some unknown flower or, bug and have its name right alongside it.

Just snap a photo of the sign and the research is all done.

Anything beats, squinting at a monitor or, thumbnails in a library book, trying to ID stuff.

Another thing, I noticed while touring the gardens.

They have some statues of naked ladies in the pond.  I didn't shot them, though.

It's because, I'm not that type of photographer.

And, the light wasn't right !

If you want to know more about the Botanical Gardens or, squint at a naked lady statue go 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bar Crawl or Pub Crawl -- Whatever You Call It Photos

Kin Town in Okinawa Does It Right

The idea could catch-on as a great way to break up the week.

On a Wednesday night from 8-12PM we had this event.

couple, performers, street scene

Ten bars participated and, I'm guessing, ten Live Shows were involved.

bar district at night

 Whenever you see those Orion Beer lanterns hanging, something special is going on.

male and female performers

 Fortunaetly, for me, someone who could read the schedule, was an escort.

Okinawan Mineo (folk music) is my favorite so, that's where we went first.

Live House Group

The live acts were in some fairly small bars.

If you wanted, you could just sit in one place and watch as the bands rotated.

Or, get out and go bar-hopping.  So, I did both.

popular singers, peace sign

These gals rocked the house, they were in.  People were dancing and bouncing off the walls.

Don't ask me what kind of music it was, I wasn't listening.

owner and girls at bar

Everywhere we went, the staff were friendly.

female singer

This entertainer was crooning some sort of love tunes.

popular male singer

This guy, I've seen on the cover of a CD so, he must be somebody important.

close up of sanshin being strummed

Here is an electric sanshin.  What will they think of next ?

close up, drums being played

Electric drums, would probably, put a lot of musicians out of business.

nightclub entertainers

Whenever I got a chance, I shot entertainers, while they were holding still.

belly dancer performing

Do you get belly-dancers at your favorite watering hole, where you live ?

male comedian imitating Kina Shoukichi

A standing ovation was awarded for this guy's impersonation.

By the time he was done, it was already midnight.

wall art

So, I packed away the camera and crawled to a pub, closer to home.

After a couple of beers, I was sitting on the floor, trying to figure out why my camera wouldn't focus.

A friend came in and said, "Hey Mike, why do you have your lens cap on?"

beautiful woman poses by wall art

 One of these days, I'll have to see if I can get that gal to walk like an Egyptian.

Does anyone know where we could rent her a costume ?


 Events Like This Should Be Held More Frequently


It gives the artists and musicians something to do outside of their weekend gigs.

Everything was within walking distance so, nobody was tempted to drink and drive. 

Why didn't somebody invent this type of bar crawl, years ago ?


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dragonfly: The Okinawa Cho-tombo (オキナワチョウトンボ‏)

black and gold dragonfly, wings spread

Scientific name: Rhyothemis variegata imperatrix

This image was taken today at the Southeast Botanical Garden in Okinawa, Japan.

Equipment used:  Pentax K5, tripod and Pentax DA50mmF1.8

Exposure:  f/1.8  1/3200   ISO 100

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Flower Photo: Purple Asian Melastoma in Okinawa

flower, Purple Asian Melastoma

These flowers can be tricky when it comes to identification.

Another one gets out of my pending files, today.

A book from the local library, ISBN4-9901917-3-0, deserves all the credit.

You are looking at a Melastoma candidum.

Some folks use them for landscaping or, like their fragrance.

Others, have medicinal uses for them.

Here's what I do.  Shoot photos and save them for a non-shooting day.

Then I use them to drive myself crazy trying to get an ID on them.

There are 50 species of this flower the locals call, Nobotan (のぼたん).

This one was found on the Motobu Peninsula During the month of June 2013.

They grow, in the wild, all over Asia.

But, I guess they got out of control in Hawaii, because over there, they call them weeds !

Related Posts:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lady of the Week (Photo) Kouri-jima, Okinawa, Japan

elderly woman wearing wreath and white robes, priestess

One of the ten or so, islands you can drive to from Okinawa, is Kouri-jima.

While Chris Wilson was photographing this gal, I sneaked a few shots.

It's only Monday but, I'm calling this image my Lady of the Week photo.

That's because, I know, I won't find anyone sweeter, even if I try.

She's only 4 years shy of being 100 and, still laughs and smiles.

The crown on her head, is made from a plant, called Ryukyu Botanzuru.

So, I figure, I should go out and find some of that stuff.

Read more about the Lady of the Week on Chris Wilson's Travel Blog

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Travel Photo: Okinawa Gals Sabani in the Rain

three wooden sabani boats, girls paddle in rain

It's been a long, hard, hot weekend in Okinawa, Japan.

Today, we were at a cultural event, called an Unjami, on Kouri-jima.

The last sanabi boat race took place around two, in the afternoon.

With the exception of one dude, steering, in the back of the boats, the teams were all girls.

Just before the race started it began raining.  But,  I  thought that was pretty cool.

People with Canon and Nikon cameras don't like rain because they aren't waterproof.

They run and hide their cameras so they won't get them wet.

Pentax, makes cameras that work in the rain.

The only thing you have to do, is keep the raindrops from spotting-up your lens.

Mine got water drops on it a few times today but, that doesn't stop me.

All you need is a soft cloth to sponge off the drops.

Then, look at the lens and see if there's any moisture left on it.

If it isn't dry, you know what I do ?

Turn around and look at all the Canon and Nikon people, hiding their cameras.

Then, hold the lens near my beard and I say, "Hah" real loud.

It dries my lens so it looks brand-spanking new.

And, I get back to the business of shooting gals paddling their sabani boats in the rain.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Every Now and Then Along Comes One of Those Days

It Really Started Sometime Last Night




Whenever that Aki Yokoyama gal comes to town I have to see her perform.

So, I grabbed a camera and did some shooting.

girl playing guitar with drumsticks

She sings, dances, plays the keyboard and a guitar.

This was the first time I saw her use the drumsticks on a guitar, though.

It makes you wonder.  What will they think of next ?

After the band played their first set, I excused myself.  Had to be up early this morning.

Things have been fairly busy around here and I'm way behind on processing photos.

So, I told the band, I'd have something ready to post on Facebook maybe, next week.

Back in the office, I downloaded the photos and decided to develop a few.

Well, I put a handful of them in an album on Facebook.

Then, locked the place-up and decided I deserved a beer.  And, another one and, some more.

The next thing you know, it was going on 3AM.  So, I went home and crashed.

Before the sun came up, I was having my coffee and ready to go.

Sabani boats were racing and a couple of us cameramen were invited.

sabani sailing boat races as Ginoza, Okinawa

We were at the beach early but, somehow, managed to miss our boat.

So, we wound up shooting from the shore.

Cameramen are real flexible people.  After we shot some boat photos a plan materialized.

The credit, all goes to Chris Wilson.

He said, "Lets go to my studio so, you know where it is."

We got to see the place, met his dog, looked at all the studio equipment and, drank some coffee.

The next thing you know, I was putting on all kinds of costumes.

Some sort of character-modeling, I guess you'd call it.

We won't mention what characters, yet, because Chris has to develop all his photos.

Let's just say Chris, Doc Graff and I had a blast in the studio.

It involved a lot of cussing, laughing and sweating, on my part.

When someone asks me to be a character, they are going to get then real deal.

Standby for more.....

Friday, August 23, 2013

This Little Bird (Photo) Went to Australia and Other Stuff

Could an Exciting Week Get Even More Excitinger ?




Mr. Spelchek smarty pants, I know, it ain't a real word.

It just tickled me pink when I got the email from JNTO Australia, today.

bird, Japanese White Eye,Cherry blossoms

They published some of my photos and a blog, I wrote about Cherry Blossom Season.

It all started a few weeks ago when I visited the Japan National Tourism Organization.

They have a website in Australia.

If you are an Australian and, visited Japan, you can write on their blog.

Well, I'm from the USA but, I figured it couldn't hurt to ask.

Here's the reply I received:

"Hi Michael,

Thank you for your enquiry.

We would be happy to receive a blog article on the Ryukyu Islands from you, but before we can commit to publishing it, we need to see it first.

Furthermore, please keep in mind that the article has to be informative and relevant to our Australian audience."

That Sounded Pretty Tough but, Didn't Scare Me


See, I have friends in Australia.  Some, I talk to (online) every day.

So, I had to figure out how to write something.....

....."informative and relevant to our Australian audience."

Well, I got thinking, "It's hotter than hell, in Okinawa during the month of August.

So, it must be freezing, in the Land Down Under."

Then, when January/February roll around, it might be hot as hell down in Oz.


The people in Australia could visit Okinawa, Japan when it's comfortably cool.

And, we have Cherry Blossom season !

The hardest part, for me, was making sure I didn't use two words.

"Colors and Favorite."

They spell them differently and, I don't want Mr. Spelchek, yelling at me !

Now, my little bird picture is down in Australia.


What's the Even More Excitinger Stuff ?



More of my photography went to the National Geographic Channel !

Sworn to secrecy, until after it airs, you'll have to wait for me to show you but, checkout

I Wouldn't Go In There

A guy named Robert Joe (RJ) from National Geographic, documents spooky stories in Asia.

There's probably, a photo of mine, over there.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Okinawa's Obon Festivities End After 3 Days (Photos)

A Busy Time of the Year




The ancestors have finished their annual visit and everyone has gone back where they came from.
It has been an extremely busy week.
A friend wanted to know if I'd like to go to Uruma City and watch Eisa.
Heck no !    I've been chasing Eisa dancers and, the full moon all week.  Burnout !!!
women do Eisa dance in streets at night
Eisa, takes place on almost any little village street, throughout the Ryukyu Islands.
male Eisa dancer with drum at night
Loud music, is played through speaker systems and you hear thunderous drum beats.
young girl Eisa dances with a fan while chanting
The dancers chant stuff like "Hai  EEE Yah".
intoxicated man dances with young girls, Eisa
If you want to pretend you're somebody's drunk uncle and join-in, that's OK.
It was real tempting but, I had photos to shoot.
young men with large drums, Eisa dance
The Eisa dancers are all twenty-something and full of energy.
chondara, Eisa dance
They have been known to perform, all over the island, until the wee hours of the morning.
line of young men with drums, dance Eisa in street at night
And, being old enough to drink, they may tip a few when they're on a break.
young woman with fans, Eisa dance
The first night of Obon, they are welcoming the ancestral spirits. 
Eisa dance performed in night club
The second day, they entertain them.
young ladies Eisa dance in night club, pink kimonos
And, the last night of festivities, is to send them off in good spirits.
With Obon season, over and done, my cameras are all packed away, resting-up for the weekend.
So, I was thinking I should take a night off.
There was this place, I found, in my travels that has some good spirits, I'd like to try.
female bartender

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Under the August Full Moon: An Eisa Dancer (Photo)

Obon Ends Tonight in Okinawa, Japan


The dancing in the streets continued, way past midnight, last night.

And, from the streets, some of it even spilled over into the bars.

male Eisa dancer with small drum
 It's almost midnight, here, right now.

So, instead of chasing Eisa dancers all over town, tonight, I have a plan.

Go find a comfortable bar that's open.

pretty girl, bartender

Set my camera on the counter and let the Eisa dancers, find me !

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Photos: Two Peeks at the August 2013 Full Moon

The Wind Can't Stop a Full Moon Shoot



A few typhoons are stirring things-up out there but, it's Obon in Okinawa, Japan.

Drum beats and Eisa dancing are going on out in the streets.

So, when I saw the moon peak through some fast-moving clouds I went and shot it.

full moon, silver colored

The big Sigma 50-500 was only at 230mm for this shot.

When the wind is gusting, you have to do all you can, to steady the lens.

The longer, you stretch it out, the more it will shake.

large full moon, silver colored

For this shot, lens at 500mm, I flipped the camera on burst mode.

Then, fired away like I was some kind of lunatic !

Monday, August 19, 2013

Help Wanted: Is This Bug A Fly or a Bee ? (Images)

Sometimes It's OK to Ask for Help



Over in Okinawa, Japan we're having Obon this week.

It's a real busy time of year, with events going-on day and night so, I'll be out and about a lot.

insect, fly or bee

This series of photos was taken two months ago in the Higashi area of Okinawa.

There haven't been enough spare hours in the day for me to identify the critter.

insect, fly or bee

When I first spotted it, I was thinking, it's an odd-colored fly.

insect, fly or bee

Chasing it around, to get photos from as many angles as possible, I noticed something.

insect, flower, fly or bee

Besides, not wanting to stay in one place too long, it liked flowers.

insect, flower, fly, bee

It really would be nice if someone could come up with a scientific name for this bug.

Right now, I'm not sure if it's a fly or, a bee !

Sunday, August 18, 2013

5 Photos Made with the Pentax DA50mm F1.8 in Kin Town

orange tiled roof, shisa statue

Today, a little experimenting was done with this 50mm lens.

What should have been about a 45 minute walk to Nature Mirai, took me 5 hours.

This shisa, on a tile roof was the first subject to catch my eye.

It was about 4:30 on a beautiful, sunny afternoon.

flip-flop, large insect, Walking stick, bug

Twenty minutes later, this stick bug came across my path.

Just to give you and idea of the size, I carefully laid a flip-flop next to him.

moon in daylight, pine tree

It would have been nice to catch the moon coming over the horizon.

But, by the time I got to the beach, it was already high in the sky.

sunset behind banana and pine trees

A couple of hundred images of bugs, butterflies, birds and the beach were taken.

Kin Bridge at night

It was, way past dark, by the time I got back under the Kin Bridge.

This old boy was hoping meet a taxi, somewhere along the way, because I was tired.

But, they must all be off tonight and drinking in the bars.

So, what I plan on doing next, is go downtown and see for myself !

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Photos Selected by TripAdvisor Property Owners in Okinawa

5 More RyukyuMike Photos Chosen



It's always nice to get an email from TripAdvisor telling you one of your photos was selected.

There's no money involved in it but, here's a little secret:

It drives people to your website.

A little drum roll and, here are the latest:

Kanna Thalasso, wide angle exterior view, Spa

Ranked #1 of 3 Restaurants in Ginoza-son, Okinawa:  Dugong

restaurant, interior, Nagomagai

 #19 of 54 Restaurants in Nago:  Nagumagai

Onna-som Museum, displays

#11 of 14 attractions in Onna-son:  Onna-son Museum

museum displays

#4 of 5 attractions in Higashi-son: East Village Tateyama and Mizuno Seikatsu Museum

pond at entrance to Matsuda Cave

So new it hasn't been rated against the other 4 attractions, yet:

What's wrong with people, are they afraid to get their feet wet ?

Maybe, I should set-up a camera tour through the place and see if that draws a crowd.