Tuesday, June 30, 2015

12 Animations from the 2015 Sabani Sailing Race: Zamami Island

boat, sailing, ocean

The GIFs Can Do the Talking



In no particular order, have a peek at these traditional Okinawan boats sailing.

When I go to this annual event, I am escorting one team.

The sabani boat, they paddle and sail, is called the Umimaru.

The photo above, shows them leaving the port at Zamami Island and heading out to sea.

Umimaru, sailing

Rehearsals for the big sailing event take place months in advance.

Each member of the boat team must be in good physical condition and somewhat coordinated.

teams run towards beached boats

 About 40 other teams compete in this race each year.

At the start, a mad dash to the boats on the beach begins the final race.

launching sailboats, sabani teams

It can get fairly crowded boarding the boats trying to depart the beach.

white sails, sabani boats at sea

It's a good idea, to try and be one of the first sabani boats to hit the open seas.

sabani boats racing, sails,paddles

The teams sail and paddle, trying to gain a lead to the fleet.

white, yellow, sailboats, race

Sometimes, I wish the Umimaru, had a purple sail so, it would be easier to follow.

island, ocean, sailboat, racing

 Once, I loose sight of the Umimaru, any sabani boat, sailing by is fair game, for the camera.

Umimaru, sailing sabani, near finish

Close to the finish, I spot the team, I am with, sailing along smoothly.

paddling  boat, sails down, near finish

 The wind was blowing the wrong way near the finish so, paddles provided all the power.

sailboat near finish, happy team

This team, looked like they were signaling something about, drinking beer.

So, after this series of photos was taken, I went looking for some !

Related Posts:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Observatory Tower Scenery: Kaminohama on Zamami Island

This lookout tower is on the western side of the island.

Looking back towards the east, sailing sabani boats were practicing for the next day's race.

The event held on Zamami-jima is called the Maririn Cup.

Maririn was a famous dog who resided on the island and, was featured in a 1988 movie

Camera: Pentax K5

Lens: Sigma 10-20 at a focal length of 20mm

Exposure: f/16   1/100   ISO 100

Date and Time: June 26, 2015  4:29PM

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Travel Photos: Statue of Maririn the Dog on Zamami Island

dog, statue, beach

Maririn would be pronounced Marilyn in English.

The statue represents the female half of two dogs who really liked each other.

dog statue, island, beach

The dogs, liked each other so much, they had three litters of puppies.

The male dog, named Shiro (white) lived on another island.

Shiro, used to swim from Aka Island to hook up with Maririn over at Zamami.

The story of the two dogs was made into a movie in 1988.

There are a few places, you can find books, DVDs or download the movie, in Japanese only.

Maririn ni aitai, meaning I want to see Marilyn would be the title.

A short clip from the movie may be found on YouTube

And, an interesting tale from some ocean scientist, about the dogs may be seen here.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Okinawan Folktale: Nuggets of Gold

An Honest Man and Crooked One



bamboo stalks

Two men were walking the same road on a business trip.

The first one spotted gold shining under some brush along the way and kept walking.

He hoped that the rightful owner would find it.

The man walking behind him was clever and, wanted to take the gold for himself.

He stopped near the gold and bent over, pretending his stomach was in pain.

The first man stopped and offered to carry the sick man to his home nearby.

The crooked one thanked him but, said he could manage by himself.

When his friend was out of sight, he went to get the gold.

But, the gold was gone and, only a puddle of water remained under the bushes.

Thirsty, as he was, he sipped some of the water and, became violently sick.

With severe stomach cramps, he walked the short distance to his friend's house.

He lay down on a futon, taking advantage of his friend's hospitality.

Suddenly, the cramps became so severe, he pooped all over the futon.

His stomach felt better and, he ran home, leaving the mess in his friend's house.

When the honest man got to the house, there were golden nuggets on the futon.

He was surprised and, went to visit his crooked friend.

He told him, it was unnecessary to pay him for the use of his futon.

The crook figured, the honest one was, just trying to trick him into admitting he pooped.

So, he cleverly, changed the subject and, talked about the weather and business.

There was no more discussion about gold and, he was thankful, poop never came up.

The man with the nuggets got a watch dog to guard the gold.

The crooked man came to visit and the dog barked, chasing him away.

He picked up a rock and threw it, killing the guard dog.

Where the honest man buried the dog, bamboo began to grow and, it grew rapidly.

The tall bamboo, hit the god's goldmine in the sky.

Gold began pouring down the bamboo into the honest man's yard.

The crooked man begged for a sprig of this bamboo, to plant at his home.

The honest man gave him some of his bamboo and, he took it and, planted the cutting.

Within a week, the crooked man's bamboo was reaching into the heavens, too.

But, instead of hitting god's treasury, the bamboo poked a hole in god's toilet !


Okinawa Folk Stories ISBN978-4-99009-146-0


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Okinawan Folktale: Dragon, Centipede and Chicken

What Big Ears They Have



dragon, statue,folklore

On an unbelievably hot day, a dragon flew down from the skies, to cool off.

It found a comfortable spot in the shade of some rocks.

A centipede entered a hole and followed the tunnel, deep within this dark space.

It became unusually warm. The 100 legged creature had crawled deep inside the dragon's ear.

At first, the centipede tickled and the dragon just dozed off to sleep.

When the centipede became too warm it began wiggling around, seriously trying to escape.

That led to the dragon, scratching and shaking its head violently.

The centipede ran around with its 100 feet, biting with sharp teeth, trying to hang on.

Soon the dragon was in pain crying, screaming, and jumping into the sky.

The tears of the dragon caused violent thunder and lightning rainstorm.

The dragon knew, he needed help but, a doctor would be afraid of him.

So, he flew back down to earth and transformed into a young man.

He visited a doctor and explained that some sort of demon had entered his ear.

When the doctor examined the ear he knew this wasn't a normal person.

The doctor told the boy, this wasn't a human ear.

He would only cure the problem if the young man returned to his original form.

When the boy became a dragon again, the doctor spotted the centipede inside the ear.

He sent a chicken into the ear to capture the insect.

The chicken grabbed the centipede and swallowed it on the way out of the dragon's ear.

The dragon was cured and happily flew off into the heavens.

Okinawan fisherman, sometimes painted centipedes on boats and sails, to ward off dragons.


Okinawan Folk Stories ISBN978-4-99009-146-0


Monday, June 22, 2015

Okinawan Folktale: The Frog Son

Things Not Always What they Seem



This story comes from Irabu Island, part of the Miyako Island group.

Different versions of this folklore, may be found in Korea and elsewhere throughout Asia.

green frog, Ryukyu

For years, a wealthy couple were unable to have children.

Long ago, a childless couple would divorce if they could not produce a family heir.

This couple was really in love so, they kept plugging away.

When the woman finally became pregnant, they thanked God for answering their prayers.

Sad thing is, the child was a frog not, a baby.

The couple kept the frog, fed it meals at home and, let it live in a nearby pond.

The frog would be happy, out there, rain or shine, croaking away.

20 years later, when the mother came to visit at the pond, the frog started speaking.

"Hey Mom, ask that girl down by the river to marry me." he says.

Mom thinks he's a little crazy. No girl wants to marry a frog.

But he says, "How can she refuse if, you don't ask her?"

Since this was his first time speaking in twenty years, Mom figured she'd humor him.

She packed up some gifts and went to meet the girl and her parents.

She explained that her son was different but, wanted the girl's hand in marriage.

Of course, the girl's parents want to know more about the lad.

The Papa wanted to know what she meant by "different."

She didn't want to reveal the frog thingy so, she said, "He doesn't speak or, come out much."

The girl was intrigued by this different sort of boy and wanted to meet him.

The frog's mother gave directions to her home and ended her visit.

A few days went by and the parents approved of the marriage.

A wedding was planned.  Friends and family brought gifts to the bridegroom's home.

Strangely, when they entered the house, they became drowsy; couldn't stay awake.

The wedding had to be postponed and everyone went home, except the bride.

The young maiden stayed at the home of the frog's parents and, slept in his room.

The parents wondered but, never asked about the frog. The girl seemed happy.

She would go about the home doing chores each day.

And, the frog stayed at the pond croaking.

A week went by and the wedding celebrations were rescheduled.

The bride put on a feast for all the guests, promising to introduce the husband later.

One of the guests said, "I heard, he isn't a human."

The bride laughed, "He's as human as all of us and, handsome, too."

The frog had a secret. He would go and croak all day at the pond, as a frog.

At night, he took off his frog outfit and stayed with his wife.

Early each morning he dressed as a frog and returned to the pond.

The bride had a secret, too.

She woke up earlier than him and threw his frog suit away, that morning.

The mother overheard the newlyweds discussing the frog suit and entered the room.

She had never seen her handsome son, as a human.

She brought him clothes so, she could introduce him to the guests.

The man became a Ryukyu Lord.

His name was Untana, the big boss.

In the Miyako dialect "untana" means frog.

Okinawa Folk Stories ISBN978-4-99009-146-0 


Flower Photo: Chinese Trumpet Vine

Nouzenkazura   (ノウゼンカズラ) in Japan






Originally spotted with some Japanese White Eyes flying around, we now have a positive ID.

The bright orange flowers are known as Campsis grandiflora to the botanical crowd.

Some folks call them Chinese Trumpet Creepers.

Chinese Trumpet, flower, vine

Anyone wanting plants or, seeds should visit Dave's Garden for information.

People there, will give you their unadulterated opinions about the flowers.

They let you know if they've had good luck or, are disappointed with the plants.

Dr. David Creech, calls it a "drop-dead-gorgeous-vine" at Learn 2 Grow.

And, he says, grow it on a post, you will  "shock and amaze the most jaded of gardeners."

At Plants for a Future you can see one of these plants, almost 30 feet tall.

Visit the Royal Horticultural Society to learn more in English.

All the research on these flowers got me thinking.

It would be fun to go and buy a wooden fencepost and get some of these plants.

That way, I could shock and amaze some jaded gardeners, I know !


ISBN4-9901917-3-0 C0661

Sub-tropical Flowers in Okinawa P 128

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Travel Photo: The Wedded Rocks of Onna Son

rocks tied together, shimenawa,rope

Bound Together with a Sacred Rope



This photo was taken from the shore at Manza Beach Resort late in the morning.

More than likely, the scene is a spin-off of the Meoto Iwa (夫婦岩) in Mie, Japan.

The rice straw rope, called a shimenawa, comes from Shinto beliefs.

Sacred ropes, such as this, are seen tied to the gates (torii) of many shrines.

Online research for these rocks in Okinawa, didn't provide much information.

But, I'm sure some wedding photographers, take their clients to this spot for sessions.

Up in mainland Japan, you can find all sorts of information about the Married Rocks.

Take a peek at them in Ise Shima National Park and get a dose of Religious Mythology.

Ella Morton writes about the rocks united in marriage at Atlas Obscura.

And, Joanne G.Yoshida, has been there at least three times.

She has even, seen Mt. Fuji appear between those rocks !

Over at Photo Guide Japan, see an excellent essay on the replacement of the ropes.

Due to wear and tear of wind and waves, the ropes are replaced 3 times each year.

It looks like quite a ceremony.

Maybe, we should talk to the folks at Manza Beach Resort and, do the same here.

It would be a great excuse, to throw a festival for the occasion !

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Dozen Brightly Colored GIF Animations from Itoman City

dragon boat, Itoman Harbor

Annual Boat Races in Itoman Harbor



It seems like summer arrived a bit early this year.

Blue skies, most of the day, made it a perfect time for going outdoors and enjoying a festival.

pink and green uniforms, sabani boat, team

Before the sun came up, I was in the office, preparing cameras and lenses.

And, I left the lights on, knowing it would be after sunset by the time, I returned.

red team, sabani boat races, Hare

Most places in Okinawa call these Harii Boat Races.

Westerners usually call them dragon boat races.

In Itoman, the sabani boat races are called Hare and they signal the end of rainy season.

Coincidentally, the word hare, is Japanese for, sunshine.

sabani boat, racing

For events, like this, I carry two cameras and three sets of lenses.

It would be nice to photograph every team as they race and, I try but, usually miss a few.

boat, rowing, purple uniforms, team, flags

There are a few thousand spectators at these events.

Luckily, a local sabani team, invited me to stay in the shade of their tent, alongside the port.

purple and white uniforms,sabani boat race
When the sun gets directly overhead, a person could easily suffer heat stroke.

They even offered some cold beer but, I chose green tea instead.

pink and green uniforms, boat team, acing

The crowds go wild, cheering for their teams, while beating drums.

They have unusual colors for some of the team's uniforms and, it makes me glad.

I'm glad, I am not a fashion coordinator.  Oops!

red and white, uniforms, paddling, boat, team

Knowing it would be a very long camera day, I try to pace myself.

There is a lot more that will be going on at this festival than, just boat races.

3 boat teams, racing, paddling

Besides all the festival food and game booths for children, there's more.

Many people just come to watch or, participate in the sabani boat races.

watermellons, ducks, swimmers

Itoman is famous for the fishing ports and industry but, they have farmers, too.

Their contribution to the festival may be seen here.

Watermellons and ducks are thrown into the sea for festival-goers to catch.

And, whatever you catch, you get to take home, for free !

red boat team, priestess house, noro, dancing

 Very few people remain, after the boat races, for this cultural event.

Hang around with one of the sabani boat teams and follow them, into the evening.

They go to the home of a priestess (noro) after the races.

They enter the home to pray and drink some sake.

Before leaving, they carry their boat paddles, form a circle and, sing and dance.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Travel Photo: Dragon Boat

boat, racing, Itoman

This boat has just been turned upright and, is continuing to race.

Three boats participating in the event are deliberately capsized halfway through the course.

After the team gets back aboard, some folks paddle, while others, bail the water out of the hull.

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Pentax 18-250 with 1.4 converter at focal length of 168mm

Location: Itoman Port, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time: June 19, 2015  2:27PM

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Okinawan Folktale: The Fisherman and Plover

bird, Pacific Golden Plover

Promises Shouldn't Be Broken



A fisherman, living alone, had recently lost a son.

The lad, named Jira, went to sea one evening but, never returned.

The father quit fishing and, watched the shore each night, waiting for the son to come home.

Forty nine days after the disappearance of the son, he was slowly walking home.

He found an injured bird (plover) that couldn't seem to fly.

The fisherman, took the bird home and cared for it.

The next morning, the bird had recovered and was singing. It flew out to sea.

A few nights later, the fisherman returned home from his daily vigil on the beach.

He was surprised, to see dinner prepared at his table.

 He asked a neighbor if she had seen anyone enter his home but, she had no clue.

The next day, he pretended to go fishing but, climbed a nearby tree to watch his house.

A beautiful, young woman came along and, started to enter the place.

The fisherman ran up behind her and, asked, "Who are you and what are you doing here?"

The woman told him, she was the plover, he had helped.

The bird had transformed into a woman to return the kindness the fisherman had showed her.

She agreed to remain, living with the man, with one condition.

He must never tell anyone that she was really a plover.

He agreed.

Not Happily Ever After 

Everyone in the village, noticed this beauty of a girl, living with the fisherman.

They also, noticed, the girl never spoke to anyone.

It bothered the guy. Maybe, they thought she was some sort of snob.

One night, he goes out and drinks a little bit too much sake.

Then blabs all over the neighborhood, the truth about his beautiful companion.

The gal can sing but, can't speak because, she's really a plover.

He realizes, he made a mistake and, goes to apologize to the lady for breaking the promise.

But, she turned back into a bird and flew out to sea, crying.


 Okinawan Folk Stories ISBN978-4-99009-146-0 Page 81

Plover of Moonlit Night


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Okinawan Folktale: A Mermaid and the Tsunami Warning

When a Mermaid Speaks Pay Attention



This photo was taken at Moon Beach, far from the Yaeyama Islands.

The story comes from Ishigaki and a place called Nohara Village.

mermaid statue, beach

On moonlight nights youngsters would sing and dance at a beach.

From out at sea, music and singing could sometimes be heard.

An old man fishing with nets was surprised by his extraordinary catch one night.

One toss of the nets, gave him an unusually heavy load to haul ashore.

When he raised his torch to see what was caught in the nets, he spotted this beauty.

She cried, begging the fisherman to release her.

To the man, she looked like a young maiden but, she explained, she was a mermaid.

The gal had to be released to live in the sea.

She had come to warn the villagers of Nohara about a tragedy about to happen.

The fisherman untangled her from the nets and promised to let her return to the ocean.

But, he wanted her to tell him about what terrible event was about to occur in the village.

A tsunami would hit the island, the next day and, destroy everything, she told him.

She warned him to go to the mountains before morning.

The fisherman released her and, she swam away, singing once again.

The villagers were warned and, went to the mountains.

They dispatched someone to warn the people in the adjacent village.

The villagers in the next town, didn't believe the tsunami story and refused to evacuate.

The next morning, from the mountaintops, the villagers of Nohara watched.

The waves, reached high into he skies and, ripped the villages from the island.

People from Nohara lost their homes but, their lives were saved.

Those who didn't believe the mermaid's story were washed out to sea with their homes.

The 1771 Great Yaeyama Tsunami hit Ishigaki and Miyakojima Island and

 killed a total of 12,000 people.

 "The chronicles of the Ryukyu Kingdom describe at least four coastal inundation events

 at Ishigaki Island during the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries."


 Okinawan Folk Stories ISBN978-4-99009-146-0


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fish Were Jumping -- Reef Egret Caught Some Tonight

Egret, fish jumping

Maybe the Pacific Reef Egret only eats certain fish.

There were some good sized ones jumping out of the water right nearby.

fish jumping out of water, water bird

It seems like the bird could have easily caught one of the big fish for dinner.

It might be, they don't like the flavor of the ones that are easy to catch.

bird, fish out of water

The Reef Egret could be like me and have allergies to some sorts of fish.

So, he lets the big ones get away.

bird eating small fish

And, just dove in the water for those little sardine-looking things !

You may also like -- Bird Animation: Pacific Reef Egret

Monday, June 15, 2015

Bird Photos: Juvenile Night Heron Developing Adult Plumage

Nycticorax nycticorax, bird

Black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticotax) change plenty.

The young juveniles are more brown and spotted grey in color.

Black-crowned Night-Heron, grey in color

 As they mature, the bird becomes black and white.

When they are fully developed adults the white undercarriage is much more distinct.

These birds showed up around 5PM tonight just as, I was ready to head home.

The were fooling around like a couple of teenagers.

A few quick shots and, I left them alone.

More about these birds may be seen at ARKive

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dragon Boat Races at Abushibare (畦払い) in Hentona

Rituals in Northern Okinawa



The third Abushibare attended, so far, this year was a bit different than, the first two.

At all of them, prayers and offerings were made, beginning the ceremonies.

3 dragon boats, race

At the events earlier this year, toy boats were sent out to sea.

Today, the people of Hentona, paraded down to the sea and held boat races.

It was a beautiful, summer-like day and, I took hundreds of photos.

This GIF is all we'll be seeing tonight.

The rest of the images will have to wait until some re-hydration occurs !

Related Posts:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Bird Animation: Pacific Reef Egret

GIF of an Egret Searching for Food



This bird was having a terrible day, trying to catch some fish.

It must have made dozens of attempts but, kept coming up without any food.

black egret, GIF
The Motion GIF was made with a series of 8 images.

Camera: Pentax K3 tripod mounted

Lens: Pentax 300mm with 1.4 converter for a focal length of 420mm

Exposure: f/5.6  1/400   ISO 400

Location: Kin Town Okinawa Japan  26.442, 127.935

Date and Time: June 13, 2015 4:54PM

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hot Enough to Go Swimming with the Bulls

Okinawa Rainy Season Ended



That means festival season and plenty of hot, humid, sunny days in the near future.

After a trip to the northern extremes of the island, Doc and, I went to visit the water buffaloes.

water buffaloes,man,river

Just as we turned the corner, heading into Nature Mirai, we spotted this.

One barefooted dude, was leading four of the animals into the Okukubi River.

There are all sorts of things to do at this location.

In the past, I have seen people kayaking, camping, barbecuing  and, partying here.

The Mud Festival goes in this area each year and they have live bands on occasions.

It looks like, I better start carrying a bathing suit in my camera bag.

It would be fun, to go swimming with the bulls.

That would be a great thing to write about for Nature Mirai Experiences !

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Animated GIF: The Batter

Sometimes You Just Can't Put the Camera Away



At the end of an exhausting, all day walk, with the camera, I was headed home.

The show, this guy was putting on, couldn't be passed up.

The Pentax K3 was equipped with a 300mm lens and a 1.4 converter.

That gave me a focal length of 420mm.

From half, a city block away, this series of photos was taken to capture the action.

Exposure:  f/5.6  1/1250   ISO 200

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Green Ladybug? No! It's a Harlequin Bug

insect, bright green, GIF

This bright green insect with red and black markings crossed my path.

For sure, I thought it was some sort of ladybug.

So, I chased it down the highway, crawling on my hands and knees with the camera.

Luckily, we were on a road that doesn't see much traffic.

The  bug was moving fast and, I needed better light; this was my best chance to catch it.

When it hit that yellow seed or, fruit, I fired away.

Ladybugs Don't Come in Green Colors






The first 10 minutes of online research, led me to that conclusion. Groan.

Some sort of Entomologist would have to help me identify this insect.

They are what I call, Bug Experts and, the world could sure use more of them.

Luckily, I found one on Facebook and messaged him, privately.

Along with my message, I attached 3 photos of this bug. He replied:

"This is not a Ladybug. Larva of the harlequin bug."

 Harlequin Bug got me the scientific name Murgantia histronica.

Other common names are, Cabbage Bug, Calico Bug, Fire Bug and Terrapin Back.

It sucks the juice out of plants and kills them !

Some people call them Stink Bugs.

They are pretty little things but, you probably wouldn't want to collect them.

Not alive, anyway.


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