Monday, March 31, 2014

A Cave Called Sururu Gama on Kouri-jima Island Okinawa

Where You Can Do Some Adventure Praying



This will be the 3d year in a row, this culture and camera fanatic hiked down there.

It is an annual springtime ritual that takes place on an offshore island.

The significance to all the activity has eluded me, until today.

hiking down trail to cave

 There's not much information (in English) about the event, online.

These photos will give you an idea what it looks like, though.

trail leading to sea level cave

 Somewhere around 30-50 people hike down this trail.

The final destination, is a cave on the beach below.

scene as cameraman trips and falls

 This is what it looks like when a cameraman trips and falls while shooting.

The people in front of and below me, stopped me from falling.

jungle vegetation lines trail

 We continued, slowly and carefully, down the rest of the way.

visitors climb down trail towards cave

 One of these days, I might die, doing crazy stuff like this.

That's alright with me. It beats sitting around in the old folks home.

Being outside in nature even beats watching TV.

ropes help in descent to ocean

Some spots, along the trail, you have to hang on to a rope or, fall like I did.

people assist in steep descent towards cave

Everybody helps each other navigate the steep parts of the trail.

When we finally, hit the beach, it's time to dig and, crawl into the cave.

prayer and offerings inside cave
Why this event is held at this time of year, I just discovered today.

It took the use of three different languages but, now I know.

The third day of the third month, by the Lunar calendar is what its all about.

The ocean tides, in spring, reach their highest and lowest points in the year.

Known as Hamakudari, in Japanese, it is a special time of the year.

Depending, where you may be located, in Okinawa, there are other names for the event.

Hamauri, Sangwachi san-nichi and Sanguacha are other terms used.

People, mostly women, pray and bath in the seawater.

It is believed to cleanse the soul and bring about good health.

What's so Adventurous About Sururu Gama ?


The event is timed, to take place, starting at low tide.

Remember, the spring tide, on this date, is the lowest tide of the year.

cave fills with seawater as tide returns

Everybody has to get out of that cave, before the tide starts coming back in.

The photo above, crawling into the cave was taken at 12:07PM APR 3, 2012.

The Motion GIF image was shot  APR 3, 2012 at 2:22PM.

At high tide (peak tide of the year) the cave would be invisible.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Spider Convinced Me to Buy Another Lens (Photos)

Motion GIF, spider moving along web

We Have a Positive ID on This One



But, it wasn't easy, as fast as that little sucker moves.

The use of three different cameras and lenses, was what it took to nail the critter.

spider in web

The spider web, gives some clues.

Knowing if a spider weaves its web in a circle or, tent-like helps with the idenification.

spider and web
The colors and markings are important, too.

spider in web

When the light started fading and, wind blowing, I couldn't get a sharp photo.

spider in center of web
Moving around to a different location, helped somewhat.

But, the image could be a lot more detailed, if I was using faster glass.

So, this spider got me thinking.  Maybe, I better invest in a good macro lens.

The missus doesn't really need to know.

 Just in case I get caught, taking a wad of cash out of the bank, I have a plan.

Gasteracantha brevispina

Something like that, I'll yell.

That's the name of the spider that caused me to do it !
 She'll understand.  
 I hope

REF:  ISBN4-9980907-9-8  Spiders in Okinawa

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Detail Photos of Sabani Boat Construction and Other Stuff

It's No Big Secret



The sabani boats and everything about them are a hot topic for me.

The history, building, rowing and sailing of the traditional Okinawan boats is fascinating.

Boats, handmade,wooden,sailing

Whenever I get a chance, I shoot some photos of them.

sabani boat, detail of construction

If you look closely, you can see how the boats are put together.

wooden dovetail keys join sabani boat planks

Different types of hardwood are joined with these dovetail keys.

dovetails called huundu, wood joint

In Okinawa, the dovetails would be called huundu.

But, some people, speaking English, just call them butterfly keys.

With the popularity of sabani boats these days, these wooden keys are fashionable.

People have started hanging them from key chains and cell-phones.

And, women have them strapped to their handbags.

That's Enough to Get Me Thinking

Consider me a redneck, if you like but, with the right color bootlace and some ingenuity.....

.... a person could make one heck of a spiffy bow-tie out of one of them.

redneck, bowtie, tuxedo t-shirt
 And, be much more comfortable wearing a tuxedo.

Dontcha think ?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why Don't They Have a Be Kind to Radishes (大根) Week ?

The Neighbor Gave These to My Wife



That's probably because he knows the way I am.

These daikon (radishes) probably weren't the best, to display at the market.

But, they make great subjects for photography.

And, I do blogging stuff, too.

male and feemale-looking radishes

My cameras were back at the office.

So, I propped them up on the wife's chair, quick, before she washes them and chops them up.

And, shot the image with my cell-phone .

Title:  Just a Couple of Radishes Watching TV

The thought, occurred to me, I should probably lug a DSLR home with me every night.

It may be too late to get another photo of these characters.

They might have already been cooked.

Related Link: Daikon (大根) Japanese Radish Photos

TripAdvisor Property Owners Choice Photos in Okinawa

10 More Travel Shots Selected



Here are the most recent photos from my travels that grabbed the honors.

There's no money involved, in doing this but, there's a method to my madness.

It's a secret.

Okawa Spring scene, Kin Town,Okinawa

Ranked #1 of 3 attractions in Kin-cho



cheesecake store, Kin Town,Okinawa



The Cheesecake Place in Kin Town

Ranked #5 of 14 restaurants in Kin-cho



Water Lily garden wall



Southeast Botanical Gardens

Rated #2 of 10 attractions in Okinawa City



model boats in museum, sailing ships



Fisherman's Museum in Itoman

Rated #11 of 19 attractions in Itoman City



Ramen and Gyoza, rice bowl



Tenka Ippin Ramen in Chatan

Ranked #15 of 129 restaurants in Chatan-cho



bakery display, Naha, Okinawa



Taimo Kobo Kinta Shintoshin

Ranked #109 of 970 restaurants in Naha




inside view, barbecue restaurant, Kin Town, Okinawa



 Seaside BBQ in Kin Town

Ranked #7 of 14 restaurants in Kin-cho



HottoMotto,Kin Town,Okinawa



HottoMotto in Kin Town

Ranked #4 of 14 restaurants in Kin-cho



sailing ship, Ocean Museum



Oceanic Culture Museum in Motobu

Ranked #14 of 19 attractions in Motobu-cho



McCafe, Ishikawa, Okinawa



McCafe in Ishikawa

Ranked #4 of 57 restaurants in Uruma



NOTE:  The ratings and rankings listed above, are not mine.

They come from TripAdvisor travelers reviews.

Each time, I submit a review and photos, I must certify:

The photos were taken by me and, I am the owner.

And, I must certify, no payment or, discounts were received from the business.

In some cultures, bribery is an accepted form of doing business.

Well, I ain't that cultured, I guess.

If I ever get that way, I'll let TripAdvisor know.  

And, quit reviewing for them.


Like, if I ever decide to write RyukyuMike's Bar and Grill Guides.....







Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 Iris Report No. 3 From the Fields of Kojika in Ogimi Okinawa

Flowers, Iris

The Weekend After Next Will Be Best



A pile of photos were taken today to give viewers an idea.

My best estimate: Blossoms haven't reached the 20% mark, yet.



early season iris blossoms



The iris fields are flooded with water to help them sprout.




wide angle view, few flowers in bloom



Most of the dikes, between rows are very slippery.



This one was covered with mats, which made it a little easier to navigate.



motion pf iris plants in nwind



To give you an idea, how windy it was, I shot this scene.



All the photos used for this Motion GIF, were made in less than one second.



Iris field



Flowers, wiggling around doesn't make for very good compositions.



close up one iris blossom



So, I singled this one out and waited for the wind to quit blowing.



motion GIF, single iris bloom



Then, found some more dancing farther down the line.



Iris flowers on display for sale



There's a trashcan, full of flowers, ready to sell, over by the tents.



But, We didn't go there to buy flowers.



Iris in wind, Motion GIF



An Iris Reporter goes there to shoot flowers not, buy them.



Cosmos flowers next to Iris fields



The cosmos field, looked healthy, compared to the iris plants.



But, they weren't selling any of them so me and Doc, sneaked out of there.



Maybe, next time we'll bring the women folks along.



They know, somehow, which flowers they like best.



We just give them money.









Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Now Look What This Spider Got Me Doing !

It Hasn't Been Identified Yet



The rascal moved out of the field and set up a web right next door.

So, I carefully set up some props for background.

I took lots of photos, crawling around outside my neighbor's kitchen door.

brown, yellow, red and black,spider,unidentifeid

It's a good thing, nobody was home.  They would think I was crazy.

The internet search wasn't helping.  So, I walked to the library this afternoon.

The librarian helped me, after awhile and, she found me this book.

Spiders in Okinawa by Akio Tanikawa

So, I checked it out and went on my merry way.

After looking at all the Latin, Japanese and English names, I gave up.

This spider isn't in the book, anywhere.  I read it frontwards and backwards, twice.

Back on the internet I went and found out some more stuff about spiders.

But, nothing about the suspect above.

A Person Could Waste A Whole Afternoon



Spiders get some bad publicity.  They are really nice little critters but, people don't know.

If you go over there to learn all about spiders, keep an eye out for this one.

It's driving me crazy, trying to find an identity.

Do you suppose, it crawled in here when I was napping on my sleeping bag ?

Maybe, it laid some eggs in my brain !

Monday, March 24, 2014

This Aint Exactly Gonna Win the National Spelling Bee

bee in flight, purple iris blossom, Motion GIF

Sometimes Coming Up with a Title is a Chore



How many ways can you say, "Flower and Bee" when you have hundreds photos to name ?

That is, without repeating yourself a few dozen times.

 My solution is to misspell and find a catchy tune to go along with the title.

Today, I couldn't decide which of two tunes would be best so, I'll put both here.

 Don't Bee Cruel

Whatever Will Bee Will Bee

After listening to those classic tunes decide which of my titles you like best.

One More Misspelling



One of my bird photos was published on the cover of a book.

The Crackerhead Chronicles

Author, Jerry Beuterbaugh, emailed me and, I hope he sells millions of copies.

He assured me, if it becomes a big hit, I'll get a piece of the pie.

That could mean, I'll get a share of his prophets !

Check it out.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Butterfly Photos: Possibly a Chinese Peacock (Papilio bianor)

butterfly, Chinese Peacock

The colors of this Swallowtail caught my attention.

It was spotted in the northern hills of Okinawa and it didn't like posing for the camera.

Butterfly, Chinese Peacock, Motion GIF

When it got attracted to that weed, I fired away in burst mode.

And, sent the photos over to that Auto Awesome dude on Google+.

A few resources, I used to help identify the critter:

Gave me the Latin (Papilio bianor) and Japanese name:  Karasu-ageha (カラスアゲハ).

Got me thinking, this may  very well be a Chinese Peacock Butterfly.

Any butterfly experts out there want to confirm ?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Flower Photo: Bottlebrush Tree (Callistemon citrinus)

Native of Australia Found in Okinawa


Flowers, Bottlebrush,tree


This one was found just down the street and around the corner from my office.

My friend over at Eat The Weeds says you can make tea from this plant.

Over in California, they have an Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute.

Lots of information, over there but, they didn't mention tea.

So, I'm thinking of contacting a friend in the Land Down Under.

Just to find out what Australians do with these trees.


 It may take a while for an answer.

Meanwhile, check out Eat The Weeds website.

He's got stuff like, Can We Eat Grass ? over there.

He doesn't sound like some urban forest, city boy scientist.

Sounds as if he's some kind of survivalist dude, to me.






Friday, March 21, 2014

Iris Report Number 2 from Ogimi Okinawa

flowers, Iris, Ogimi, Okinawa,Japan,Motion GIF,windy

Wait A Few More Weeks



This blossom looks like it was applauding me for the effort.

Up in the Kijoka district of Ogimi it was windy, cloudy and cold this morning.

We spent a few minutes there and talked with a farmer about the plants.

The only people around the fields were those who work them and their children.

Full bloom won't happen for about two more weeks by our estimation.

Nature could fool us and start busting out with sunshine any minute now.

That's when I'll go back up north and get Iris Report Number 3 !

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Feeling Blue ? Here's Something You Could Do !

Hit the Road and Get Out of Town



Okinawa is a pretty small island.  Eventually, all roads lead to the ocean.

March weather can drive a body crazy.

It's officially Spring but, Mother Nature must not have gotten the word, yet.


On one of those cold mornings in March, I hit the beach before the sun did.

And, got to humming this tune.

But, I'm an optimist.  Things ain't really that bad.

We all know, the warm, springtime days are coming our way, soon enough.

So, it's time to start making some travel plans.

It's good to hear to someone else singing the blues in a song.

Before you know it, on a sunny day, a ship will come in.  And, you know who will jump on it.

Try it sometime or at least, take a bus and, get out of town.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Walking Talking Grey Heron (Photo)

Grey Heron,bird,Motion GIF,Okinawa,Japan

Of course, you'll hear no sound.

We went shooting cameras today but didn't do flowers or, museums.

Outdoors, shooting wildlife is where I'd rather be and that's what happened.

Next, I'll leave the cameras and go see if there's any wild life in the city.