Sunday, June 29, 2014

12 Photos From a Wide Angle Sunday Night in Kin Town

interior of an Izakaya

Choosing a Favorite Won't Be Easy



This is something which has been procrastinating, for a long time.

There ought to be an English language Restaurant and Bar Guide for Kin Town.

Probably, every town in the Ryukyu Island Chain could use one.

Somebody needs to out there and getterdun.

So, I grabbed a camera and 10-20mm lens and did some walking last night.

The first place I visited was Izakaya Jin Jin.

I went before 6PM so, I could shoot the place before crowds started arriving.

That way you don't have to worry about people moving around, blurring the scenes.

couple at table,izakaya

This couple, Adam and Veronika, were dining at one of the tables.

 I wouldn't shoot, that part of the room without their consent.

Asked if they would sign a model release, they agreed.

 I got them to switch tables.

That put them in better light and, I asked them to watch the TV for the shot.

When people watch TV they don't wiggle so much.

My kids taught me that a long time ago.

If you happen to have kids with the wiggles, buy them a TV.  It works !

They were a friendly couple. I thanked them and went on my way.

izakaya,sushi bar

On the way out, I shot this image, from Jin Jin's front door.

Once the evening crowd starts arriving, a photo like this would be impossible.

My shutter-speed was 6 seconds.

Next: Geisha Girls !



This is a place, I've been meaning to visit with a camera for months.

The last time they saw me in that restaurant, I was Santa Claus.

The owner showed me a photo, he snapped with his iPhone.

Feast your eyes on the Restaurant Ohana.

Luckily, I was the first customer to come through the front door.

The designer of this place should get an Architect of the Year Award.

It's peaceful and quiet. Nominate them for the Nobel !

izakaya table,geisha,art

If you don't like to sit at those wooden benches, go in here.

Your fanny goes on the tatami mats and you can stretch your legs out under the table.

sushi bar, kitchen

The sushi bar is where you'd most likely find me.

That's because, I think, food and beer, come to you quicker, over there.

It's fun to watch the chef, whack fish with his knife, too.

Customarily, it's always a good idea, to joke with the sushi chef and, buy him drinks.

If a big barroom brawl ever breaks out, it's good to have a friend with a sharp weapon nearby.

 At least, that's the way I figure.

Leaving the sushi bar, this is the view leading back to the entrance.

This is really a high class establishment.  Almost sacred, to me.

So, I usually only go there for special occasions, with friends.

Orion Beer, bottle,cup

All by myself, I figured, what the heck, get a beer.

And, I sat down awhile soaking up the air conditioning and some smokes.

One more look at the geisha girls, seemed like a good idea.

We really don't have many people, running around town, dressed like that.

2 girls,geisha,art
So, I nabbed a few more photos of them before leaving.

3 girls,Japanese Snack

Some real live beauties, were expecting me, in another part of town.

They had the Grand Opening of Snack Turquoise, Saturday night and I missed it.

For less than the cost of a case of beer, you could party all night long.

What I'm talking about is food, spirits and karaoke.

Orion Beer Label
It wouldn't take a degree in Psychology to figure out what I did.

A photographer shouldn't be drinking while working.

So, I quit and had a grand old time, singing songs and drinking Orion Beer.

Beer makes me happy but, I was worried about my camera.

There was one more spot, I had to visit.

No photos were taken there. That will happen on another excursion.

By 1AM, the tripod, camera and watashi, had rolled down the hill, to the house.

And, everybody was done for the evening.

There Are All Kinds of Bars and Restaurants in Okinawa

Devising a way to rate or, rank them, might take me awhile.

One of the sites, I submit to asked some questions:

What is your favorite restaurant?  I answered: Undecided

What is your favorite drinking establishment ?   My Answer: Still working on that one

Atmosphere and a friendly staff, rate fairly high on my list of expectations.

Certain times of the year, heat or, air-conditioning, become a priority.

Toilet facilities, there are every kind you could imagine.

Some places have co-ed toilets.  Others, make you feel like you're in Las Vegas.

So, I have to figure out what readers like to know before visiting a restaurant or bar.

Folks like me, don't really expect marble tiled restrooms.

We're happy with pretty girls, karaoke and cold beer !

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cinnamon Tree -- Photos, Facts and History

cinnamon tree, forest

Think About It Next Time You Eat a Sticky Bun



Centered, in the photo above, is a cinnamon tree.

The reddish colored stuff, you see, is the tasty spice, flavoring your snack.

You have been eating, the bark of a tree.

cinnamon bark

There's a big chunk of the stuff, sitting on my desk.

It's a long story and, it's been awhile, since I've done one like that so, here ya go.

bark of cinnamon tree

Late in April of this year, I visited the Village of Oku, in northern Okinawa.

There is only one Mom and Pop-type store in town.

When I told the gal at he counter, I was hungry, she pointed across the street.

There are restaurants and soba houses over there.

That, I knew. But I told her, I didn't want to do the touristy thing.

She didn't have any bento box lunches or sandwiches.

So, I wound up buying a can of tuna and some Ritz Crackers.

Then, I sat outside at a picnic table and started munching away.


Along Came a Pickup Truck



These two guys got out and started carrying a log into the store.

They were surprised when I greeted them in local dialect.

Maybe, they thought, I looked like I was starving and felt sorry for me.

They stopped and one of them ripped a chunk of the log off and gave it to me.

"It's cinnamon," he said.

Then, off they went to deliver the log to the store.

 The bark, has been on my desk, since that day in April because, I get busy.

 This would be great blog material.

But, I had to go and get a photo of a cinnamon tree.  I had no idea what one looks like.

cinnamon tree


Suddenly It's June and Along Came Mr. Miyagi



He gladly showed us cinnamon trees, growing along the mountain roads.

To get there, we drove to ear-popping elevations.

It was like West Virginia, before they invented two way traffic.

cinammon leaf

We stopped along the single lane road a few times to look at the trees.

So, I took the opportunity to get some detailed shots of the leaves.

cinnamon leaves

The shape and patterns of the leaves help with identification.

The trees, we had seen, so far, may have been about ten meters tall.

Miyagi-san, wanted to show us the big ones, deeper in the jungle.

stream trekking

So, off we went, up the creek without a paddle.

Mr. Miyagi, led the way.

They should make river trekking an Olympic event. I'd bet on him.

mountain stream

In 15 minutes, he was about an hour ahead of me.

He came back down and found me, undecided, at a fork in the stream.

cinnamon tree trunk

When we got to this tree, he marked it with a knife.

It was growing right alongside the stream-bed.

The jungle was too thick, to see the treetop. So, I just shot this close-up.

I'd say, it was a couple of meters in diameter and 20 or more meters tall.

Farther upstream there are even bigger cinnamon trees, to see.

Mr. Miyagi was enthusiastic about showing me all of them.

Hey.  I might be an old goat but, I ain't exactly a mountain goat !

So, I told him, we better see what happened to Doc.

What if he took the left turn in the stream, instead of the right one ?

When, I tried to text  Doc, it didn't work.

Later, back at the car, Doc said he was trying to reach me via cell-phone.

There is no reception in those hills.  It's God's country. Or maybe, hell.

Cinnamon Has Been in Use for Centuries



In days of old, it was more valuable than silver or, gold

Somebody on Top Tropicals (dot) Com wrote a great story about the history of cinnamon.

There's no sense, repeating it here.

But, I did enjoy the part about the Pope, favoring Spain and Portugal.

They burned heretics but, England and France, didn't. LMAO !

Probably, you shouldn't say stuff like that nowadays.

Chinese Cinnamon, which we may have here, is also called Bastard Cinnamon.

We should tell the Pope and, see if he can get people, to stop the damn cussing.

Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, is what is considered the best for flavoring.

The above link discusses the differences between Real Cinnamon and others.

It might be a good idea, to find out what type cinnamon you have been eating.

Some sources, say there could be medical warnings associated with using Chinese Cinnamon.

The Greeks and Romans, had a myth about cinnamon. 

They said, it came from birds, storing it in their nests and, Arabs stealing it from them.

Alexander the Great, helped bust that myth when he found some cinnamon trees.

Learn more about cinnamon at Natural Health Benefits

It's best, if you make the decision, yourself.

Should you be eating cinnamon, in those sticky buns ?

Maybe, you'd rather have yourself (like an Egyptian) embalmed with the stuff !



Friday, June 27, 2014

Kuwayamaea sapporensis and a New Bug Channel

insect,Kuwayamaea sapporensis, ezo-tsuyumushi

True Insect Fanatics Will Love This !


Last Friday morning, the bags were packed and, I was waiting for my ride.

When I stepped outside for some fresh nicotine, I spotted this character.

It was in my neighbor's garden.

So, I crushed my cigarette and ran back inside to grab a camera.

Knowing, I'd seen these before, I was in no rush to do the research.

See, I knew the scientific name was on my website, somewhere.

It's some sort of Leaf-hopper.

Kuwayamaea sapporensis, led me to a website where, I learned the Japanese name.

It would be called an Ezo-Tsuyumushi, in this country.

At Insect Sound World, they have more than you could ever dream of, about bugs.

There are photos of the male and females, in each species.

And, you can even, push a button to hear the sounds they make, if you're interested.

Listen to this Ezo-Tsuyumushi HERE

Poke around on that website and, you can find photos and sounds of all kinds of insects.

And, if you want the Japanese version, you can be accomodated, too:

What more, could a bug lover, ask for ?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Ryukyu Damselfly (琉球羽黒とんぼ) and Mr. Miyagi

blue damselfly

Today found us in the northern hills of Okinawa, searching for cinnamon trees.

A kind gentleman, named Mr. Miyagi, showed us where to find them.

We hiked up a stream-bed with him leading the way.

He is easily, 6 years, my senior but, trekked up the hills twice as fast as me.

Now, I was wearing the usual, yellow flip-flops, which weren't built for this hike.

Mr. Miyagi disappeared around the bend.

When I arrived at a fork in the stream, I had no idea which way to go.

As I climbed out of the stream, my left flip-flop got whisked away in the water.

Groan. I was about a mile up the rocky creek.

Hopping back downstream, didn't sound like a good idea.

Luckily, the flip-flop got wedged in some rocks and, I was able to catch it with my tripod legs.

Mr. Miyagi, came back and showed me which way to continue the hike.

Showing him some of the damselflies, I shot, was a good idea.

He probably, figured, that's what was taking me so long.

He asked if I'd give him a photo.

As many photos of these damselflies, as he likes, I'll give him.

He, pulled cinnamon trees out by the roots and, gave them to Doc and I to take home.

The wives will be thrilled.

More about cinnamon trees will be published at a later date.

Mr. Miyagi is one of those people you don't get to meet everyday.

If you ever run across a Mr. Miyagi who pulls on rubber boots to walk in the woods, beware.

There just might be a three mile hike upstream coming your way.

Ya gotta love it !

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wide Angle Photos from the Zamami Jima Trip

island in blue seas under blue skies

When the Light is Right



It's nice to take home some wide angle shots from places my travel takes me.

It's tricky, trying to compose and shoot photos from a seagoing platform.

Some of the things, you have to deal with are the pitch and roll of the ship.

And, there may be salt water spray, hitting your camera lens.

sabani sailboats, Kerama Islands

There's a technique, I'm working on, to perfect this type of photography.

It consists of mostly, pitching and rolling in the opposite ditection of the ship.

islands under blue skies

These images were all taken with Pentax cameras.

They are extremely water resistant and can take a beating but, salt water can ruin them.

islands, outcroppings,blue skies

So, I make sure, I have some fresh water nearby, to rinse salt water spray off.

And, I have plenty of lens tissue on standby.

sabani sailing, boat,islands

The Umimaru, was the sailing sabani team, I went on this mission to photograph.

It would have been a shame to miss this shot because of a fouled-up lens.

sabani boats, islands

 The more distance between my boat and theirs, the bluer the skies became.

islands,blue skies,sabani boats

 Even though, I was softly cussing the boat, I was on, I was enjoying the scenery.

Kerama Islands,sabani sailing,blue sky

If another sabani, sailed into the right light, I shot them, too.

Zamamijima,islands,sailing sabani boats

Blue skies, over the islands, are just irresistible, to me.

view, Naha Harbor from fishing boat

One last wide angle photo was taken as we entered Naha, Okinawa.

Then, I put the cameras away. 

Part of the Technique Involves Safety 


A cameraman could easily become a man overboard, when shooting at sea.

One of these days, I'll put together an article, showing how to do this type of photography.

It would be nice, to have some photos, demonstrating the methods used.

We will have to get a model photographer so, you don't have to look at me.

There's one, I know, who might be crazy enough but, she was riding a different boat.

Next time I see her, I'll ask if she wants in on the deal.

Then, maybe we'll getterdun.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Scenes from Zamami Island 2014 Sailing Sabani Race

Motion GIFs of the Boats in Action


This year, the course was changed due to rough sea conditions.

Instead of sailing from Zamami Island to Naha, Okinawa the race was held in the Keramas.

sabani boats racing around Zamami Jima

The sea was relatively calm, close to the islands.

wooden sabani boats sailing

It was a beautiful, sunny day.

boats sailing around islands

For awhile, it had me wondering. Why not sail to Naha ?

sabani sailing around Zamami Islands

As you probably noticed, I'm bouncing around on a fishing boat.

silver sail, 3 man sabani

Each team had an escort boat, somewhere nearby, for safety.

3 man sabani team

Peeking through a camera viewfinder, I'm busy, looking for the Umimaru team.

sailing sabani race

With 30-40 boats racing, it would take some time to find them.

3 sabani boats racing

I take advantage of he light to shoot different types of the traditional wooden boats.

sabani with outrigger

A few, had outriggers and some had, two sails.

sabani sailing by lighthouse

The weather, seemed perfect, to me.

And, I was a little bit disappointed, that the race to Okinawa was cancelled.

Leaving the Kerama Islands

We rode a commercial fishing boat back to Naha, Okinawa.

Just a few minutes away from Zamami Island, I learned, why the race was cancelled.

The swells, in the ocean, made waves a few meters high.

They would have swallowed any one of the sailing sabani boats.

A few times, I thought our boat was going to capsize.

But, we had a captain who knew how to handle the seas and, I thanked him for the ride.



On the ferry, going to Zamami Jima some gals, asked the age of this old cameraman.

So, one of the sabani dudes told them.

"Mike, he's a Super Grandpa, about 90 years old or, so."

young Okinawan woman waving


I won't be 90 for another 13 birthdays or, so.

Okinawa.  I couldn't think of any place, on earth, I'd rather live.

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's Mugishokunin Time So I'm Outta Here

can of beer, black background

That Would Be Orion Beer

Most of the day was spent cleaning camera gear and developing photos.

Three days of salt water and sand can damage a lot of expensive equipment.

So, I did plenty of cleaning and, even washed my tripod.

After catching up on all the emails and social media, I screened photos the rest of the day.

 There's no sense in getting burnt out looking at sabani boat images.

So, I figure it would be a good idea to loosen up with some Orion Beer

More Sabani Photos Were Uploaded to Facebook

Sunday, June 22, 2014

12 Photos from the 2014 Zamami Jima Sailing Sabani Race

Just Back from the Event



The three day visit was completed today.

There was a new twist in the race because the seas got rough.

Instead of sailing from Zamami to Okinawa Island, the course was changed.

sabani sailing boat racing

The traditional wooden boats raced around the islands surrounding Zamami Jima.

sailboats, racing

Tonight, I'll just post some photos of the different boats and scenery, I observed.

Sabani boats race

It would be impossible, for me to get photos of them all, sailing.

Traditional,sabani boats, race

 That's because, I'm bouncing around on an escort boat.

boat race, sabani

 The Umimaru, is the team, I went along with for the occasion.

They have enough sense, to turn-in early every evening. But, I don't.

sailboats race
They go home and get some sleep and I, mingle with sabani folks I never met before.

Umimaru, sabani team
Well, I make lots of friends and, drink plenty of beer. Sometimes the local awamori, too.

Everybody wants their picture taken, while they are racing.

sabani boat, lighthouse

So, I tell them, I'll see what I can do.

island,sabani boat

If the light isn't right, when I'm looking for the Umimaru, I turn around.

And, shoot some other boats, too.

sabani boats racing

When it's all over, I have thousands of photos to process.

sabani boat with sail down

There are always plenty of them for the team, I was assigned to.

sabani boat, sail up

And maybe, I got some of my other drinking buddies, too !