Thursday, August 28, 2014

Looking Through the Lens at Gokoku Shrine in Naha Okinawa

The Site and Surrounding Areas



There is a lot more to see at this attraction than, I ever imagined.

A few times in the past, we visited this Buddhist Temple.

The mission then, was to photograph the torii at the entrance for a Then and Now series.

That didn't require, going inside so, I didn't.

Buddhist shrine, water,wooden ladles

Today, I wanted to get a closer look at things.

When I researched this place for a TripAdvisor review, I learned something about the place.

Commodore Perry and some crackpot missionary, took over the site from the Buddhists.

Inside, I thought I may be able to find more of the temple's history.

This was the first place I stopped.  And, I washed my hands with water from a wooden ladle.

war memorial,one-legged soldier,nurse

Inside the temple grounds, you find war monuments, like this one.

A statue of a nurse helping a one-legged soldier caught my attention.


Turning, to look back, I took this photo.

It shows another statue and monument, as well as, the place, I washed my hands.

wooden ladles,dragon,washstand,shrine

Passing through a second torii gate, I spotted another washstand.

This one had a dragon spitting water out of its mouth.

fortunes,wooden box, donation

Off to the right side of the temple they have this box.

If you put 100 yen in the slotted part, you can take a fortune paper.

Just reach in the hole on left and take one, after you make a donation.

Gokoku Shrine, Buddhist

Here is the front of Gokoku Shrine.

The place was immaculately clean, had lots of gold and, no people were there.

inside view, Gokoku Shrine

But, I didn't go in, just zoomed and shot this image from the outside.

It's hard to believe some foreign missionary would call these folks heathens.

wooden torri,shisa,shrine

After seeing enough of the temple grounds, we explored out back.

There is a trail, leading uphill, to the left, outside the temple fence.

Here, was a small shrine with a fairly new, wooden torri.

red torii,shrine,hill,Buddhism

Behind Gokoku Shrine, on another hill, I spotted a red torri, leading to a different shrine.

That got me thinking. A cameraman could never run out of things to do, in Naha.

peace pole,marker

They even have one of these peace markers behind the shrine, we were at.

The photo, is to remind me, I better tell the Map It Okinawa dude about the location !

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

3 Images of Traulia ornata: An Okinawa Grasshopper

Traulia ornata okinawensis

オキナワモリバッタ (Okinawamoribatta)



The Okinawa Mori Batta translates as, Okinawa Forest Grasshopper.

Some people would call it a locust.

grasshopper, red hind legs
Waiting for this bug to move, helped identify it.

The bright red on the lower part of the hind legs was a good clue.

grasshopper, head shot

Looking at the grasshopper from many angles, I checked lots of sources.

That way, no scientists can argue with me, when I name the critter.

The photos were all taken with a Pentax DA 50mm F1.8 lens on the K3 camera.

It's starting to look like, buying a decent macro lens, might happen in the near future. 


ISBN4-900668-35-4 pages 254-255

 Insects/Spiders of Okinawa by Shawn Miller on Flickr

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Insect Says "Bug Off " to the Cameraman

bug, GIF

This character didn't seem to appreciate having a portrait made.

Monday, August 25, 2014

An Unidentified Grasshopper Showed Up Today

So I Shot It About 500 Times


The jackhammers were at it, all day, in front of the office.

After a few hours of having my brain and bones rattled, I had to get outside.

This insect was kind enough to entertain me and, I have plenty of photos left to develop.

Taiwan hanenaga indago, Oxya chinensis formosana

Some clues, found online, gave me two possible names for the critter.

It could be a Taiwan hanenaga indago or, Oxya chinensis formosana.

And, I have a jackhammer dandy headache.

So, I'm outta here.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Passing Through a Protest in Okinawa: Motion GIFs

Saturday Picnic Atmosphere



Most foreigners would probably have enough sense to avoid these rallies.

And, that's not such a bad idea. 

Okinawan protestors, aren't criminals, though and, are usually peaceful demonstrators.


The highway we were taking north, yesterday had some folks out protesting.

Rather than, take a detour and, miss out on the excitement, we drove through it.

With the whole back seat to myself, I got a chance to shoot through the windows of my choice.

Traffic,  slowed down somewhat but, the delay wasn't too long.

Too bad, we were on a different assignment and, couldn't spend the day here.

It's fun, taking pictures of all the people wearing different colors.

Getting along with these folks, is no problem, for me.

They may have all kinds of issues to protest about but, I don't take sides.

Taking photos, is what I do and, if somebody seems a little grumpy, I handle it.

Just say stuff like, "Aloha or, Merry Christmas."

Then, they know, you aren't some government worker and, you are OK.

A Political Columnist

This morning, there was an article in the Japan Times, about this event.

Somebody named, Jon Mitchell saw things, much differently than, me.

If you are into that sort of stuff, read it.

He says, there were over 3,500 protestors and all kinds of stuff, I didn't see.

Like, over 100 boats, Tokyo sent to scare protestors away from the ocean.  Hah !

It makes me wonder.  Was he really there ?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

In the Spotlight: Map It Okinawa Dude -- Motion GIF


Off the Beaten Path



Today, we went to accomplish a sort of Mission Impossible thing.

And, I'm fairly certain, we gotterdun.

Just a few more details, need to be worked out and, you'll see the whole story.

Completely exhausted from watching these guys, this will be a quick blog post.

Map It Dude takes folks off the paved roads to see things most travelers wouldn't notice.

Without him and, another one of my partners today would not have been a success.

More about that, in an upcoming Then and Now photo shoot.

Meanwhile checkout Map It Okinawa !

Friday, August 22, 2014

Muscovy Ducks GIF

male and female,ducks,Cairina moschata

The same pair, I believe, we saw last year at a dam in Yomitan.

More about these birds may be seen here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Some Days a Sign and a Curtain Are All You Need

man and woman,Okinawa farmers,sign

Bankers hours, you could call it.

Today, we hit the west coast, east coast and middle of the island.

Back at the office, I downloaded 162 images.

There were birds, outer islands, tourists and food photos in the collection.

kitchen curtain, Okinawan woman

A simple kitchen curtain and sign at a restaurant, turned out to be my favorite photos.

It wasn't until, I read the EXIF data that it dawned on me.

We did all our photography between the hours of 9 and 3.

Those could bankers hours.

Sounds like a plan, to me !

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Motion GIFs of Okinawa's Engineers at Work


They are out there, everyday.

Usually, under the hot sun.  Sometimes, in the rain.

backhoe digging,traffic

The equipment they use, is noisy but, it gets the job done.

equipment, manual labor

It can be dusty, dirty, dangerous work and, some of it has to be done by hand.

The scent of diesel fumes, mixes in with the fresh air.

hosing down the dust, construction

At the end of each workday, they make the sidewalks passable.

And, hose down the dust, created from the digging.

Hats off, to these hard working engineers !

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Don't Let the Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda venatoria) Scare You

Heteropoda venatoria,Huntsman spider

Harmless to Humans



It's one of the few spiders found in Okinawa that doesn't spin webs.

If you spot one around your house, consider yourself lucky.

They eat cockroaches.


This rascal was spotted out by the back door to my office, today.

Hopefully, it's guarding the place so, no bugs can get in.

Huntsman spider, outdoors

Luckily, I had time to grab a camera and flash to capture it for you.

Brown Huntsman spider

If my wife or, the gals next door see this spider, it's a goner.

They squish or, spray the poor things like they are some sort of natural enemy.

spider, flip-flop,scale

This one is probably only half grown.

There's one of my flip-flops, to give a sense of scale.

When they grow up, they can be as large as a human's hand.

What would you rather have, one of these or, 100 cockroaches in your house?


Monday, August 18, 2014

3 Minutes of Blue Skies Shining on Me


Not especially high tech, at computer stuff, I tried something new today.

There was a huge (6000x4000 pixel) photo of a bridge in blue skies, I was saving.

It had a speck of dust, up in this blue portion of sky.

There are all sorts of Adobe programs that can be used to remove dust.

And, I own a bunch of them but, never tried dust removal on any of my photos.

Dust on a camera sensor or, a spot on a lens, shouldn't be there, in the first place.

So, whenever, I see a spot on one of my images, I just throw it away.

And, go figure out where it came from.  Then, fix the problem.

This Was a Special Photo




It was high time, I taught my self, how to do digital spot removal.

So, I did some online research and read my Dummies book.

Then, opened the photo with my Adobe Elements.

Thinking, I knew what I was doing, removing the dust, here's what happened:

The bridge disappeared along with the dust !

Everything (eventually) turned out alright and I gotterdun.

But, can't show you the image, just yet, because it's going to be in a contest.

Anyhow, the incident reminded me of this tune.

There's no sense, letting some good old blue skies go to waste.

Enjoy the Willie Nelson song and music. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Travel Photo: Sushi Bar

sushi bar, sake,counter,chairs

Location: Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Sigma 10-20 at 13mm

Exposure: f/16  3sec   ISO 100

This photo was taken about an hour before opening time.

Once the doors open for business hours, the counter fills up quickly with customers.

Last week, after shooting photos at a restaurant, I stopped here on the way back to the office.

And, managed to weasel my way in for a few minutes.

Now, I'm thinking, I should go back without any cameras and grab a chair.

Looking at that big bottle of sake, got me thinking.

Maybe, I should give some a try with my dinner.

Friday, August 15, 2014

1st Birthday in Okinawa Japan

Little Sammy Goes Through the Ritual



This custom, in Okinawa, is something unique to the Ryukyu Island Chain.

It is a tradition, passed down through generations, more than likely, by word of mouth.

Researching the custom, to find the origins, has left me with very little documentation.



There are other places, in Japan, where this ritual is practiced.

It is known as "Erabitori" -- Pick up and keep an item.

 Read more at Blackcabbit's World

The best, I can do, is show you what takes place, with the digital cameras.

All of Sammy's Relatives from Near and Far Gather at the House



birthday party,GIF,ritual,Okinawa, 1 year


Fortunately, most of the guests allowed me some room for the tripod.

There were anywhere from 30-50 visitors who attended the celebration.

Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces, were just part of the crowd.

child,girl,peace sign,parent,GIF

It was a good idea, to play around with the cameras ahead of time.

Some children are camera shy, especially when a foreigner points a camera their way.

The Big Event



Several items are placed on a tray and everyone watches to see which the one year old selects.

The order in which the child picks up each item has some significance.

It helps the family determine their child's future.

mother,child,1st birthday,tray,money,food,GIF,paintbrush

The mother, watches anxiously.

She will, probably record the day's events in some sort of diary.

Will her son be a scholar, artist, manual laborer, butcher, baker or, candlestick maker ?

Does the child place more significance on the food, money, soroban, pen or, paintbrush ?

As each item is selected, by the child, it is set aside.

The one year old will keep picking items up, until the tray is empty.

The objects placed on the tray may vary, depending where in Okinawa you happen to visit.

And, the interpretation of the order in which each item is selected, is up to the mother.

Mother's always, know best.

Don't they ? 

More About Celebrating a 1st Birthday in Okinawa

Taking a Peek Inside an Okinawan Mom and Pop Store

canned goods,beans,vegetables,fruits,sauces

Almost a Thing of the Past



There used to be stores like this, in every village, throughout the Ryukyu Islands.

Shopping malls and convenience stores, open 24 hours a day have changed things.

Many of these small operations have gone out of business.

mom and pop store, outside view

 Walking the back-roads, behind my office, I discovered one that's still open.

There's nothing quite like a good old mom and pop store.

The government should declare, the few that are still open,  National Treasures.

And, give them tax exempt status.

By golly, the people, are giving-up a front room of their house, to serve humanity.

aisle,store,ice cream, shelves

Just inside the door, I passed an ice cream cooler and fresh vegetables.

Shelves lined one dimly lit aisle and, it was real quiet.

tissues,shelves,corned beef

 That gave me a chance to zoom-in and get a closer look.

When it looks like nobody is home, here's what you're supposed to do:

Say, "Gomenkudasai" loud enough for the people in the house, to hear you.

small store, house

Somewhere, from within the house, you'll get a response.

And, you will discover some of the finer souls, who walk the planet Earth.

women at home

 This morning, I met the mother and daughter at Kamiyamah Shop.

They gave me permission to shoot the whole place.

Look in the mirror (upper right) and, you'll see me, peeking through the viewfinder.

interior, Okinawan home

 This is the view from the side entrance to the home.

They gave me permission to photograph the family butsudan, to the right, as well.

Once, that was accomplished, I wanted to get back into the store.


Children, need to know, they have snacks and candy in this store.

And, the prices are no different than, at any other establishment.

household goods,shevles

Now, I have no idea what people pay for these household items.

There may be some savings, buying laundry and dish detergents at a major distributor.

But, I bet you'd spend a few more nickles, driving there.


The best part of visiting a mom and pop store, is in this photo, of the checkout counter.

There isn't any fancy cash register.

If you like to hear beeps and tweets at the checkout, make your own noises.

The addition and subtraction gets done with those wooden beads.

In Japan, that's a soroban. Something, you might know as an abacus.

Before Leaving the Store

It would be nice to know, just how long this shop was in operation.

When I asked, the mom had to think about it for awhile and, couldn't remember.

Then, her eyes lit up.  She turned the soroban over and read some writing on the bottom.

"Since 1967" she replied.

Then, I bought a few cans of iced coffee and a watermelon ice cream.

She rung-up the tally on her beads.  And, told me the ice cream was free.

Stop by Your Local Mom and Pop Store Wherever You Are !!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Just a GIF of a Buncha Dam Birds


This scene occurred while I was at the Kin Dam.

The mission, I was on, had nothing to do with wildlife but, that's what I'd rather be shooting.

There are some egrets in the trees and, a crow flew through, briefly.

It's Not Nice to Go Around Cussing



There are all kinds of special events scheduled for the weekend.

And, I was planning on being busy Friday, Saturday and Sunday, attending them all.

But, it started raining outside. I went and checked the weather online.

5 and 10 day forecasts and several sites, all say the same thing: Rain.  Groan.

Some alternate plans will have to be made, for me and the cameras.

Unless, some of the weather experts, are wrong, all we'll see is rain.

So, you'll have to enjoy these dam birds, until I get a chance to shoot some more.