Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Special Trees and Another Sacred Grove

Natural Monument of Okinawa Prefecture



Today day was spent searching for the special trees in the Ryukyu culture.

A little hike up a hill, led to Kami-ashagi, in the Hiji area of Okinawa.

Bischofia tree, Akagi

The goal, for me, was to locate this tree, called an Akagi (Bischofia) that's on my list.

The large trees in this grove are over 250 years old.

log stairway, trail

The trail, leading to the top of the hill was well maintained.

It was warm enough for the mosquitoes to come out so, we used some repellant.

uphill trail, stairs

The autumn leaves around here, don't crunch under your feet.

In the forest, they compost real fast and, smell woodsy.

When, I get home maybe, I'll hose my feet and flip-flops down over a flowerpot.

Tell the missus, I'm fertilizing her plants.

thatched roof hut

The trail, led to this place of worship, Kami-ashagi.

It is extremely important to know, you never enter one of these structures.

I maintain my distance and photograph them but, would only enter one by invitation.

They are used for cultural rituals and, in many villages, only women may enter them.

English text sign

A sign, nearby, gave some history about the area.

A photo of the English portion, will come in handy for future reference.

jungle trail

Having taken photos of the trees, I was after, the return trip began.

Going downhill was much more enjoyable.


We were blessed with warm weather and blue skies, all this week.

So, I made sure to capture as much with the camera as possible, during the descent.

log staircase, trail,jungle

People, living in snow country, might appreciate all this greenery.

Any day now, we will start getting temperatures in the 60's and I will be freezing !

Note to those who followed this far:

Tomorrow, I will be going to a hospital for a short visit and, will be offline.

Automotively speaking, I guess you could say, something popped in my exhaust manifold.

And, they have to open my engine compartment up, to put a patch inside.

Lucky, for me, it's an up front repair and not, a broken tailpipe.

See you next week !

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Funny Landing But Impressive Bird

Great Egret



These egrets were headed for extinction, at one point in history.

That's because, people liked their bright, white feathers.

Great Egret landing in a tree

There are way, too many, images of egrets in my flies already.

But, I just had to save this bird's goofy-looking descent.

egret with wings spread

Once it got settled, my feathered friend, did a bit more regal posing for me.

All About Birds



There are so many types of herons and egrets, identification can get confusing.

On an occasion or two, I have misidentified a bird and, posted it here.

Something like that can be a disastrous experience.

Bird watching experts and scientists, will jump down your throat !

So, what I do now, is go to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology for identification.

If this egret isn't an Ardea alba, they can try and jump down some other guy's throat.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Wildlife GIFs: Grey Heron in Flight

Ardea cinera, bird, flying

November in Okinawa Just Can't Be Beat



It was a little windy and warm so, the birds probably liked it as much as I did, today.

These photos were taken, where the Okukubi River, meets the Kin Dam.

 Photos of several different species of birds were taken over a period of about 3 hours.

The Grey Heron shots, I liked the best.

They are just magnificent birds, when they are in flight.

And, today, they performed for me, when the lighting was just right.

If you enjoy being outdoors, this is the time of year to visit the Ryukyu Islands.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Grey Heron and Its Shadow in Flight (GIF)

bird, Ardea cinera,flying,shadow

Fish Jumping Out of the River Too



It was a beautiful Autumn day and, I couldn't resist a walk to the Kin Dam.

The plan was, to take advantage of the blue skies and sunshine.

It would have been nice, to come home with some eagle and hawk photos.

That didn't happen but, there were plenty of heron and egret shots taken.

This Grey Heron put on a good show.

Look closely and, you can see fish, jumping in the lower left of the frame.

The series of photos was captured at 4:15PM.

A few minutes later, the sun would be going down behind the mountains.

Once that happened, it was time to put on a jacket and, start walking home.

Location: Okukubi River directly below Kin Dam

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Sigma 50-500 at 500mm

Exposure: f/9   1/640   ISO 100

Learn more about this bird, the Ardea cinera at ARKive

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Ryukyu Castanet Known as Sanba (三板)

Musical instrument, sanba

This instrument accompanies many Okinawan folk bands.

It is a gadget made by threading three pieces of hardwood on a string.

It took awhile, but, I found a good video of the sanba in action.

For anyone wishing to practice, here's a good video.

The instrument is available in many gift stores throughout the islands.

One of these musical instruments has been taking up space in my office.

Today, I decided to use it as a photographic subject.

Using available light, I shot a few different compositions, with black and white backgrounds.

Still not sure, which, I like best. Maybe, I'll try some Okinawan fabric next time.

The research, led me to something about this instrument, I had never known.

It was introduced to Okinawa by a famous singer.

Now deceased, he was the father of another musician, Kina Shoukichi.

Read more about it at The Power of Okinawa

Kina the younger, had one heck of a good band, back in the good old days.

Recently, he got himself into politics and, got whooped really bad.

Politics and, I don't really agree with each other but, I can play the sanba.

Maybe, I should look that guy, Kina Shoukichi up.

If he'll teach me how to play the sanshin and sing, I'll show him how to play the sanba !

Friday, November 21, 2014

Travel Photo: The Sailing Sabani Boats in Itoman

2 sailing sabani boats, racing

Camera: Pentax K3 on a tripod.

Lens: Pentax DA-300mm

Exposure: f/5.6  1/800   ISO 100

Date and Time: Nov 2, 2014  9:57AM

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It Looked Like a Ladybug Convention Out There

All Sorts of Shapes and Sizes



Some of the black and orange insects, you'd need a magnifying glass to see.

Quickly, I grabbed a camera, tripod and some white background material.

Then, I propped it up and started shooting, to create this GIF.


Bugs, popped in and out of the scene and put on quite a show.

After awhile, some of them started acting unladylike so, I packed up and went home.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chasing the Sacred Trees of Okinawa and Tracing the Roots

Another Great Find Today



It would be nice, to make a new discovery each week.

There's a list containing over 100 locations, I'm using, to document them.

Finding special trees is one thing, photographing them in good light, is another.

Great Akagi (Bishop Wood) of Kinjo in Shuri



Latin Name: Bischofia javanica


These huge trees are located off the cobblestone trail leading to Shuri Castle.

Not just one but, six of them, are in this jungle-like, sacred grove.

During the Battle of Okinawa, all the Akagi trees within Shuri Castle, were destroyed.

Those, located in this Ugan (place of worship) survived the war.

People come to pray and make offerings.

Only one tree, has a golden statue in a hollowed portion at the base of the trunk.

This tree is a National Natural Monument.

Standing below and, looking up, I shot the top of the tree.

Next time, I'll bring a wide angle lens, to photograph the entire tree for my collection.

Meanwhile, check this video out:

Digging Up the Historical and Cultural Facts 



When I research these types of things, I check as many resources, as possible.

Talking to neighboors, town drunks or, what I call sundials, is fun, sometimes.

But, I was trained, to give people, verifiable facts.

These trees, are going to take awhile.

Here's why:

GUIDEGECKO,  mentions there are ghosts in the vicinity.

MIDORIHANA, has some legend, "Demon's Rice Cake" about the place.

OKINAWA CLIP, Says the place is mystical and, you should make wishes there.

OKINAWA TRAVELER, Lists a phone number and gives a map.

They only show a photo of one tree.

 If you call, will it answer ?

 I wonder.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Travel Photo: ANA Flight Landing in Naha

 Images in the GIF: A Total of Seven



Planes, landing at Naha International Airport fly over Senagajima.

The skies were just right for taking these shots.

A tripod, Pentax K5 and 18-250 lens at 50mm, did the trick.

Waiting for the flight, to get close enough, I fired away using the burst mode.

Exposure: f/11   1/800   ISO 100

Monday, November 17, 2014

Some Folks Travel by Rail -- I Should Give it a Try

It's a Sort of Train in Naha Okinawa



That thing has been around for over 20 years and, I haven't tried it, yet !

It's not exactly, one of those bullet train things the mainland people ride.

But, I suppose, it beats walking or, taking a taxi.

2 car monorail, GIF

The last time, I visited the big city, I saw the thing coming.

Waiting around outside a hotel, I got bored and, started looking for something to shoot.

There were no critters moving around so, I waited for the next train.

It's called a monorail.  I don't know if it really qualifies as a full fledged train.

Remember when trains had a locomotive and a caboose ?

Well, that's what you see here, without all the extra stuff.

The front car has 65 seats and, so does the back one. Plus, they have standing room.

So, there could be as many as 165 passengers up there.

 It got me wondering if, they have a slow season for train rides.

Maybe, a bunch of us could buy tickets at a discount price.

And, take our cameras on a train tour !


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Six Images of the Grey Heron in Flight

bird, flight, Grey Heron

This afternoon, I went for a walk with the Pentax K3 and a 300mm lens.

grey heron, flying

The Kin Dam, is a good location to find these birds.

Grey Heron, wings up, legs down

Standing at the top of the dam, I adjusted my exposure for the green background.

Grey Heron, wings down

When the heron, came along, I was ready.

Flying Grey Heron

All I had to do was hold the shutter button down and pan the camera.

Use of a tripod, steadied my shots.

flying grey heron

Grey Herons, in flight, show some terrific colors.

When they aren't flying, they can sit in one spot for hours.

The Latin name for these birds is Ardea cinerea.

In Japan, it would be Ao-sagi, which translates roughly as Blue Egret.

This one made my day.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Flower Photo: Bird of Paradise and a Photo Tip

What Happens in Okinawa



Yesterday, we took a little camera trek, down to the south of the island.

It had been the second time, in a week, I visited Sueyoshi Park.

Map It Okinawa dude and, a good doctor were on this trip.

Bird of Paradise,flower,black background

The mission, we were on, was to teach the doctor some tricks of the camera trade.

Two days prior, I had photographed this Bird of Paradise flower.

In too much of a hurry, I didn't pay enough attention to the background.

There was something distracting in the image so, I threw the photo away.

In my backpack, I keep a clipboard with different colored backgrounds to use.

The doctor and I, took turns adjusting the background and shooting the flower.

We used black and white and, could have experimented with red but, didn't.

To me, the black background, looks the best.

TIP: Always bring along some portable background material for flower photography.

White material can also be used as a windbreak or, reflector board.

Back in Canada



When the doctor gets home, he may want to print the Bird of Paradise photo.

So, it's a good thing, we altered the scenery a bit.

We don't want everybody in Canada, looking at what was behind that black board.

Just in case, you're curious and want to know what we were hiding, I let you know.

It was snail crap !

Native Plant of South Africa



This is also called: Crane Flower or, Crane Lily.

The scientific terminology: Strelitzia reginae


Guidebook of Landscaping Plants in Okinawa ISBN4-900668-63-X

Friday, November 14, 2014

Today's Motion GIF from Senagajima: Windsurfers

yellow sailed, windsufers, GIF

They put on a great show, even when it's a little cloudy outside.

Tourists, visiting Senaga Island, get a quick class and they learn how to sail those things.

Once upon a time, I tried windsurfing.

After about 25 attempts at standing on the board and, lifting the sail the thing took-off.

Nobody showed me how to steer and, a big wind came along.

At the time, I didn't really feel like visiting China and, that's the direction, I was going.

So, I jumped off and paddled back to Okinawa.

Then, I finished my beer and went home.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

GIFs from a Summer Festival in Okinawa Japan

Kin Town August 2014



This is one great thing about storing photos on an external drive.

The GIFs were made from photos taken around 6PM local time and, the sun was shining.

dance, Eisa, festival, Okinawa

It was hot, back then and I bet lots of folks were wishing the sun would go down.

If you look outside at 6PM these days, the sun has been long gone.

father and son, Eisa dancers, drums

To get my required amount of sunshine, I go back and look at old photo files.

It probably, doesn't give me the right dosage of vitamin D.

But, looking at photos of the sun shining sure makes life feel better !

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tree: Cultural Property of Tomari in Nakagusuku Okinawa

A Tropical Almond Tree



Finding all the trees, designated National Monuments, in Okinawa, may take a year or, two.

Today, we were lucky enough to locate this one, while traveling down south.

It was planted during the Meiji Era and is estimated to be over 200 years old.

Okuwadisa would be the tree name in local dialect.

Tropical Almond or, Seabean Tree are common names in English.

The Latin name is Terminalia catappa.

Off to the left of the tree is a sacred well for drawing water.

A kind gentleman from the neighborhood, gave us a tour of the entire area.

This is the Shicchanuka district of Tomari.

It is chock full of sacred sites and, my senses tell me, they hold some special rituals there.

It may take a few more visits and, I know I will make some new friends.

The place feels mysterious. More to come, on it, later.

Back to the Almond Tree



It is one of two trees that were planted in Tomari.

The other, was in the district known as, Fucchanume.  Both were gifts from an official.

He was a representative of Shuri, who had completed his assignment.

During the Battle of Okinawa, the tree in Fucchanume was destroyed.

The remaining tree was designated a Cultural Property in 1977.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Moon -- Tide and Wind GIFs from Nov 7, 2014

full moon, clouds, GIF

Not especially fond of clouds, covering the full moon but, they do add something to the photo.

So, I take plenty of extra shots to, make these GIFs.

ocean waves, Kouri-jima, landscape, sky

Earlier in the day, this was how the tide appeared on Kouri Island.

wind blowing fishing floats, waves, landscape

Taking a few steps back, I included these fishing floats in a scene.

That's just to show, we had a little breeze, blowing that day.

These photos were taken with a Sigma 50-500 at various focal lengths.

Happy Veteran's Day to All Who Served or Are Serving !

Monday, November 10, 2014

Just a Crow Today and Recipes for Using Them

Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle Not Seen



It was a busy day at the office but, two hours were spent outdoors.

Before the sun went down, I thought shooting that buzzard eagle might be entertaining.

It never appeared, where I usually spot it but, a crow showed up.

blue-eyed crow, discarded tire

Here it is, posing to the left.

Then, it posed to the right.

It was eating some sort of fruit probably, swiped out of a farmer's garden.

Enough photos were taken, to get this GIF made for you to view.

While waiting around the office for the GIF to get done, I did some research.

There Are Way Too Many Crows on this Island



Just for the heck of it, I decided to Google Search Crow Recipes.

If there was a big demand for crows maybe, we could get rid of them all and, turn a profit.

Hah.  I found some great material, over at Cooks (dot) Com.

They have a whole page of recipes that use crows and, even their nests.

You can make hash, pudding or, pies out of these birds.

The craziest recipe is the one called Famous Kentucky Crow.

All you need is one crow, 4 cups of cow manure and a pint of Old Crow Kentucky Bourbon.

After you're done mixing and baking, guess what you are supposed to do ?

Throw the bird away, eat the manure and, drink the bourbon !

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Wildlife Shot on the Way to the Moon

Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle, angry bird

An Angry Buzzard Eagle



It sure would be nice if, they would bury all phone lines and electric wires, underground.

Normally, I don't waste my time, taking photos of birds on wires.

While walking to do a night-before-the-full moon shoot, I saw this scene.

Buzzard Eagle and Crow, power lines

The Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle was on the wires first.

Then, a crow came along and, thought it would roost there.

Hopefully, I won't get a pile of hate mail from the crow lovers but, I don't like those varmints.

This eagle was smaller than a crow and, I have seen crows gang-up on them.

This time, the eagle, scared the crow away. YAY !

Off they went, in separate directions.

And, I continued my journey, to shoot the moon.

Photos above taken with a Pentax K3 and Sigma 50-500 at 500mm

Exposure:  f/6.7   1/1000   ISO 100

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tree: Tropical Almond Found Growing in Okinawa

Good Stuff and Some Not So Good




It's always fun, discovering things like this.

The Map It Okinawa dude and, I were on a mission, looking for nifty things to post on blogs.

There are plenty of, culturally significant trees on this island.

And, if we can find them, we will document each one, in the English language.

Terminalia catappa,tree, Sea Almond

When you find one like this, it's a pleasure, doing the of research.

There isn't just one of these trees at this location.

They have a whole row of them along the highway, close to the ocean.

Designated Cultural Property, Nago City,sign

What, I liked about this, besides the shade, was the historical marker and sign.

It gave the history of the trees in English and Japanese.

Plus, the Latin name and, local dialect for the plants.

Shooting images of these signs, helps with the research later.

Coke machine,HWY 110,trees

The Law for Protection of Cultural Properties got me thinking.

It might not be a good idea, to get caught messing around with that tree.

So, I backed away with the cameras and took some shots from a distance.

And, I made sure, nobody was looking, when I collected some almonds to take home.

They had fallen on the ground so, I figured they must be free.

Thinking, it would be nice to show you my nuts, I shot some for display.

They turn different colors as they ripen.

The not-so-good news is, they are almost impossible to open.

After about 20 minutes of hacking with a steak knife, I gotterdun.

That little seed, at the tip of the knife was all, I found inside.

If, I ever get some new teeth and the urge for almonds, guess what, I am going to do ?

Buy some at a candy store !

Resources for all you could ever want to know about the Terminalia catappa tree: