Monday, August 31, 2015

Wildlife Photos: Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

bird, whimbrel, migratory

Whimbrels are migratory visitors to Okinawa.

These birds breed in cold climates, such as the Arctic and, fly south for the winter.

bird, migratory, Numenius phaeopus

Usually, I see the migratory species fly here sometime in November.

Today was the 31st of August.  Maybe, winter is coming early this year !

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

5 More Animated Images from Obon Festivities in Kin Town

Eisa dancers, drums, music

The young Eisa guys and gals performed at a senior citizens home.

pink kimonos, girls, dancing

Staying in the background, I used a zoom lens to avoid blocking anyone's view.

 There were times, people in their 80's would jump in and join the dancers.

Esso station, Eisa dancers

The Esso gasoline station is a good place for the Eisa dancers to get out of the hot sun.

gas station, Esso, Eisa dancers

It is conveniently located about a minute's walk from my office. 

night, Eisa, moon

 A wide angle lens was used to take this shot, while sitting on the curb.

The little yellow speck, in the image happens to be, the moon. 

The streets have become quiet again, at night and the ancestor's spirits are all gone.

Now, I can get my work done early and, be home before midnight.  Yeah !

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Supermoon Image AUG 29 2015

full moon, supermoon, AUG 2015

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Sigma 50-500 with 1.4 converter for a focal length of 700mm

Exposure:  f/16   1/50   ISO 100

Location: Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  AUG 29 2015   6:57PM

Friday, August 28, 2015

Animated GIFs of Obon 2015 in Okinawa Japan

Day and Night All Over Kin Town



Welcoming home the ancestral spirits takes place over a period of three days.

This series of photos was taken during the past 48 hours.

highway 329, vehicles, decorated truck

A brightly decorated music truck was making a racket outside my office.

A band of sanshin players accompany the Eisa dancers and blast the Okinawan music.

Eisa Dancers performing
 By the time, I grab cameras and lenses to shoot them, they are farther down the street.

When they see me coming road guards, stop the traffic for me, to cross the highway.

Eisa drummers and dancers, rooftop view

 After 9PM is when things really start to get hectic.

Climbing up to the top of a building was what it took, to compose this photo.

evening, Eisa dancers, summer kimonos

 This group was performing right outside one of my favorite watering holes.

Eisa dancers, men and women

So, I sort of hung-out around there, knowing, I might need a drink after awhile.

young lady dancers, Eisa

There are probably a few hundred images, I haven't even looked at yet.

And, I know plenty of Eisa guys and gals will be looking for their photos online.

Eisa girl, pink kimono

Drum beats can be heard, down the street as, I type this blog.

Several images have been added to an Obon 2015 album on Facebook

There is supposed to be a full moon tonight and, it is the last evening of Obon.

So, the cameras are being packed up and, my office will be locked until morning !

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Food Photo: Octopus on Ice at Itoman Fish Market

common octopuses

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Pentax 18-250 at 58mm

Exposure: f/11   1/2sec   ISO 100

Location: Itoman City, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  AUG 27, 2015  11:55AM

 Here's What We Learned About Octopuses Today


  • They are the smartest invertebrates you will ever find on the planet Earth.
  • They learn from observing other creatures of their family and repeating their actions.
  • They figure out how to solve problems and, can even unscrew a cap from a jar.
  • They have been observed using rocks and shells, as tools.
  • They build little forts around their homes, constructed from shells and stones gathered.
  • An octopus has three hearts. One pushes blood through the body.  The others, pump the 
  •  blood supply through the arms.
  • They can change their body shape to mimic other animals. They change colors, as well. 
    • They can lose an arm to escape capture and, it will grow back later. 


    Wednesday, August 26, 2015

    Relaxing Walk on a Secluded Beach Looking for Driftwood

    3 Motion GIFs Composed Here



    The mission was to hunt for some driftwood needed for an Okinawan Folktale.

    It took me about two hours before, I realized, there was nobody out there but me.

    driftwood, beach

    With a typhoon passing recently, there was plenty of debris washed ashore.

    I guess, any piece of wood, could qualify as driftwood.

    Several samples were photographed but, it may take awhile longer to select the right image.

    waves, beach, driftwood
     As long as, I was carrying a tripod, I figured a few animations could be composed.

    rocks, beach, driftwood, waves

     There is something about the action of waves on the beach that's relaxing.

    There was hardly any breeze and the only sound was water hitting the shoreline.

    waves, surf, sand, hills

     After walking for three hours, I rounded the bend in the far left of this photo.

    A young couple had discovered a road, leading to my secluded beach.

    But, when they saw me coming with the camera, they drove off.  Hah !

    The next time, I visit one of the stores in the big city, I might buy a hammock.

    If, one were to be stashed in those woods, I could spend a whole day at this beach !

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015

    During Obon Eisa Drums Will Be Heard Day and Night

    Obon Season in Okinawa 26-28 AUG 2015



    Eisa, drums, dancers

    This image was created at the Kin Town Eisa Matsuri earlier this month.

    Okinawa.s Obon begins tomorrow and, lasts through Friday of this week.

    The young people doing the performances may be seen and heard just about anywhere.

     During daylight hours hospitals, day care centers and shopping malls are popular.

    Evenings, the drums and shouts of the Eisa dancers are heard on many of the back-roads. 

    Often, they are out there dancing until way past midnight.

    With the passing of Typhoon Goni, we may begin to see some clear skies.

    If no more rain falls, some photos of the full moon above the dancers may be possible.

    Monday, August 24, 2015

    Food Photo and Recipe: Okinawan Chahan

    Also Known As Fried Rice



    Tropical Cyclone #16 or, Typhoon Goni, seems to have left Okinawa.

    Tonight, I took a stroll over to the office and, didn't notice much damage along the way.

    Not, having gotten out with the cameras, I had to dig up something from the past.

    Fried rice is something, I consider, a lightweight meal.

    After woofing down a large sized bowl of it, I'm full, for about an hour.

    Then, the urge to sink my teeth into a cow starts kicking in.

    One one of those days where, I'm not really hungry, this is an excellent quick fix.

    A friend of mine, Benjamin Martin puts sake in his recipe.

    So, I thought if  anyone wants to try cooking their own, I'd give a link to him.

    Find his recipe at More Things Japanese.

    It's time for me to inspect the bars over in Kin Town for typhoon damages !

    Sunday, August 23, 2015

    Chasing Lowly Manhole Covers

    Somebody on Facebook Started It



    A manhole cover from Chiba, Japan, I shared on Facebook got a comment.

    It seems there's some group taking photos and adding Geo-tags to manhole covers.

     With a typhoon approaching, landscape photography was out of the question, for today.

    But, high winds, don't have much effect on manhole covers,  So, off I went to shoot some.

    Kin Town, manhole cover, sewerage

    Nothing fancy, just your every day, grungy and unpainted ones.

    The handheld Garmin GPS was brought along to get latitude and longitude coordinates.

    A dozen locations were documented, along the northern boundaries of Kin Town.

    Just a few samples will be posted here.

    manhole cover, street, sidewalk
    The artwork on these sewer covers is pretty impressive.

    But, we don't have any problems with people stealing them to decorate their homes.

    Many other places, around the globe have manhole cover thievery problems.

    manhole cover, roadside

    Beijing, China loses about a quarter million manhole covers in one year.

    The scrap-metal industry and, thieves, gobble them up.

    It got so bad, they invented smart manhole covers to help catch the rustlers.

    They began embedding GPS chips in them.

     And, when a manhole cover is moved, it notifies the authorities.

    Bogota, Colombia was having 10,000 manhole covers, lifted each year.

    They started placing satellite tracking devices in them, too and are catching the crooks.

    The Taipei Taiwan Solution



    Engineers in Taipei developed a new type of manhole cover, made of cement.

    The metal covers, were slippery and causing vehicle accidents on highways.

    So, they started replacing the manhole covers and burying them underground.

    Special tags, with embedded radio frequencies help locate the covers when necessary.

    Theft problem and 17 accidents a month caused by manhole covers -- GONE ! 

    This Could Become a Trend

    Suppose countries around the globe, decide to bury the manhole covers.

    Maybe, that's why somebody came up with the idea of Geo-tagging photos of them.

    The search ended with Finley + Muse.

    These guys may be on to something if, they're doing it world-wide.

    Who knows ?

    This could be the beginning of The Society for the Preservation of Manhole Covers.

    Saturday, August 22, 2015

    Note Taking in the Field

    Write It Down



    Keyboards, digital notepads, laptop computers and smart phones, can't replace this.

     A pen or pencil, scratching the details onto a piece of paper.

    notebook, sketches, handwritten notes

    At a cultural event, I noticed Haruka Nakama, writing in her notebook.

    This was too good to pass up so, I asked if, I could photograph her notes and, she agreed.

    She was documenting Abushibare, an occasion which takes place only once a year.

    Things move along rather quickly at these affairs.

    It was impressive, the detailed sketches and notes, she had made.

    Understanding Japanese, isn't required, to see what her notes reveal.

    The placement of each item used in the rituals and, sequence of events was documented.

    She left room to write down any questions, she may have, to ask guests at the ceremony.

    It's something, I have been meaning to write about and, now, have a photo for demonstration.

    Five Good Reasons to Take Hand Written Notes



    1. Outdoors, touch screens and LCDs are sometimes difficult to view. 

    2.  Notepads and pens fit in pockets.

    3. No battery packs or charging systems are required.

    4. Hand writing notes is more effective than typing them on a keyboard.

    5. Communicating in remote locations or, with elderly is easier, using a pen and paper.

    Many people are frightened by high-tech gadgetry !

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    Friday, August 21, 2015

    Flower Photo: Kwanso (ウクワンソ) Orange Day Lily

    How About Some Tranquility Tea ?



    In the Western world no mention is made of this plant's magical qualities.

    But, if you poke around on some of the Asian websites, you can learn a few things.

    Hemerocallis fulva, flower, day lily

    The common name Daylily, comes from the fact: The flower opens, only for one day.

    Scientists and botanists would call this plant, Hemerocallis fulva. 

    See all the varieties of the flower at Dave's Garden

    Learn how to grow and maintain these flowers at Missouri Botanical Garden

    Thursday, August 20, 2015

    Travel Photo: Winding Stairs of Katsuren Castle

    wooden stairway, Katsuren-jo, castle, stone walls

    Camera: Pentax K3

    Lens: Pentax 50mm

    Exposure: f/11   1/125   ISO 100

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015

    Okinawan Folktale: Red Butt of a Japanese Monkey

     red rear, Japanese Snow Monkey, family, monkey, Okinawa, folktale
    Photo Credit: Thomas Quine on Flickr

    Surprise a Rich Man's Reward



    Many years ago a poor traveler visited a wealthy man's home. 

     It was New Year's Eve and he was looking for shelter from the cold for one night.

    The rich man and his family were preparing for the New Year and, he chased the traveler away.

    Next, the traveler stopped at the home of a poor couple next door.

    They had a small home and, no food to offer but, the invited the traveler in, to stay warm.

    He saw an empty cooking pot hanging above the fireplace and, asked them to fill it with water.

    As the water began to boil, he began to chant and, soon the pot was filled with food.

    Seeing the poor couple eating a meal, made the stranger smile.

    He asked them to make one wish and, he would see if he could make it come true.

    They decided to request, to become a young couple, again.

    The traveler (who was really a god) told them to refill the pot with water.

    As the water warmed, he chanted and, sprinkled their bodies with warm liquid.

    Soon, their old bodies became young, again.  

    New Year's Day

    On the morning of the New Year, the couple went to greet their neighbors.

    At first, the rich man didn't recognize the poor couple.

    They explained what had happened to them, due to the kindness of the strange traveler.

    Now, the wealthy man wanted to see the traveler.

    When he found him, an invitation was extended to visit the rich man's home.

    He promised the traveler riches if he could work his magic on the wealthy family.

     The traveler told the rich man to fill a pot with water and boil it.

    Before the god began his chant, the rich man started sprinkling water on the family.

    The wife turned into a dog, the daughter a crow, son a goat and, rich man, a monkey.

    The animals, all fled the house and headed for the mountains.

    The home was abandoned so, the traveler told the poor couple to move in and, they did.

    Return of the Monkey

    Soon, the monkey started visiting the yard and, he would sit on a rock.

    There, he screamed at the couple, "This is my home. Get out of here!"

    The couple ignored the animal and shooed it away.

    The monkey returned every day and became louder and more verbally abusive each time.

    Contacting the traveler for advice, he told them what to do.

    "Boil water and pour it on the stone, the monkey sits on every day."

    They did it, just before the monkey arrived, the next morning.

    When he came, to shout his usual obscenities, he sat on the rock and burned his fanny.

    He ran back into the woods in the mountains, screaming in pain.

    And, never came back to haunt the young couple again.


    Folktales of Okinawa ISBN4-947-654-05-8 P.139

    Condensed from: Why the Monkey's Buttocks are Red

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015

    Travel Photo: A Sign in a Museum

    sign, military headquarters, Tomigusuku, Okinawa

    Former Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters



     This photo was taken in the museum located above the tunnels at this site.

    It tells how civilians were conscripted to assist the military with their war.

    The military policy of "local procurement" provided an economical labor force.

    Women and children were used for construction projects and, other things.

    400,000 innocents were stuck in the battle zone.

    Okinawans remember ! 

     See an image from this site featured in Photography Tip: Leading Lines

    Monday, August 17, 2015

    Festival Photo: What a Gal !

    kimonos, dance, matsuri

    Late yesterday afternoon, we were at a tug-o-war matsuri (festival) down south.

    My favorite place to shoot from, would have been on the roof of a building above the crowd.

    But, access to the roof was denied so, I mingled with the festival-goers. 

    Everybody, except the dude, who wouldn't let me climb to the top of a building, was friendly.

    Before shooting anyone, I always get permission but, wasn't carrying model releases.

    This gal was dancing while clapping her hands, before the tug-o-war started.

    If, I ever run across her again, I may give her a print of this photo, just because...

    Camera: Pentax K3

    Lens: Pentax 18-250 at 18mm

    Exposure: f/4.5   1/250   ISO 100

    Location: Yonabaru, Okinawa, Japan

    Date and Time:  AUG 16, 2015  5:05PM


    Sunday, August 16, 2015

    Tachigaa Waterfall in the Rain Ain't the Same

    waterfall, gif, recent rain,mud

    This visit to the waterfalls provided a good opportunity to do some GPS stuff.

    The rains, we had yesterday sort of ruined things for photography.

    This animation demonstrates how muddy the water can become at the base of the falls.

    waterfalls, close-up, zoomed lens

    One way to eliminate the mud from the scene is to crop it out.

    That can be done in camera with a zoom lens, as shown here.

    Or, by walking closer to the subject if, you are not equipped with a zoom.

    Other options, would be, to crop the dirty water out in post processing.

    waterfall, swimmer

    Or, go back to visit in September, when it's a little cooler and the water clears up !

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    Saturday, August 15, 2015

    The Japanese Omelete Known as Omurice

    Fried Rice Wrapped in Eggs



    Here's a meal the Japanese invented for Western customers.

    It's popular with many people in Japan and some restaurants specialize in making the dish.

    Omurice,omelete, rice, vegetables

     Omelete rice (オムライス) is easy to prepare at home and some recipes will be posted.

    The dish above, was listed as pineapple omurice on the menu at a cafe.

    There was a chunk of pineapple in the salad and, it was tangy.

    The meal was way more than what I would normally eat for a lunch but, I ate it all.

    Looking for recipes, I also ran across one variation of the dish that's new, to me.

    Somebody invented Taco-omu Rice

    That's a meal, I might have to sample someday but, I'll wait for awhile and see.

    The Irish in me says, be patient and maybe, they'll come up with something better.

    Corn-beef and Cabbage Omelet anyone ?

     To make your own Omurice, checkout these Easy Japanese Recipes.

    Or, go visit Cooking with Dog and learn from the video:

      The feast, pictured at the top of the page was prepared at Tachigaa Waterfall Cafe.

    Friday, August 14, 2015

    Red Hibiscus and Red Helen Butterfly GIF Animation

    Spotted in Oku Village



    Traveling the northern tip of the island, the weather took a few drastic turns.

    The sky blackened and, dumped a few gallons of water.

    For mid August, no one can complain.  It felt great being cooled naturally.

    flower, butterfly, hibiscus plant

     The butterfly, Red Helen has a Latin name of Papilio helenus.

    The flower, I knew was some sort of Hibiscus and, searched for a botanical name.

    Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) sounds like a good name, to me.

    So far, I've been rained on twice today but, I'm still smiling.

    It might not be a good idea to argue with me, over the name of this flower.

    If anyone wants to discuss it, email me and, we'll talk Monday.

    Have a nice weekend; I'm outta here !

    Thursday, August 13, 2015

    Special Box in Okinawa Known as Binshii

    Used During Rituals



    On many occasions, I have seen these wooden boxes but, just learned the name today.

    They are carried to shrines and sacred sites for prayers and offerings.

    wooden box, binshii, people, praying

    Most of the day was spent researching this one and, is was a toughie.

    Some references, had me believing, Juu-baku, would be the correct terminology.

    But, when verified through several other sources, I changed my mind.

    Juu-baku boxes have similar compartments but, are usually square in shape.

    ビンシー, Japanese,Ayako Toguchi,book,ISBN4-89095-136-9

     Luckily, I remembered this photo, from a book by Ayako Toguchi.

    The shape of the boxes, I have been seeing, are always rectangular.

    Using the characters ビンシー (binshii) I plugged them into a Japanese search engine.

    And, got confirmation, that is the wooden box used for rituals in the Ryukyu Islands.

    The wooden containers hold, rice, salt, incense and awamori for community rituals.

    Do they have any special prayer boxes like this where, you come from ?


    Photo illustration from Ayano Toguchi ISBN4-89095-136-9 P.243

    Okinawan-English Wordbook ISBN 978-0-8248-3102-8 P.17

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015

    Bird Animation: Pacific Reef Egret Dives from Tree

    Egretta sacra, Pacific Reef Egret, gif

    Camera: Pentax K3

    Lens: Pentax DA 300mm F4ED + 1.4 Converter

    Focal Length: 420mm

    Exposure: f/7.1  1/1000   ISO 200

    Location: East Namisato, Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan 

    Date and Time:  AUG 12 2015  4:16PM

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015

    Okinawan Folktale: Magic Plant

    mugwort, fuuchi-baa,leaves,フチバ

    Sister Saves Brother



    The parents departed for the spirit world leaving big sister to raise her brother.

    They were poor and, the boy was worried about a race being held at school.

    Each child was told to bring a small boat to the river for class, the next day.

    The wealthy boys would be buying brand new, toy boats.

    The older sister told her brother to fetch some bamboo and she would help him.

    She fashioned the hull, making a small boat and, added a cloth sail.

    The next morning, all the boys held their boats at the start line in the stream.

    The teacher blew a whistle and, the race began.

    Children ran along the riverbanks, cheering their boats on to the finish.

    The poor boy's sailboat easily won the race.






    Angry because the poor boy won, the rich kids plotted to kill him.

    He was invited to a feast at a rich boy's home.

    They forced him to drink some cold soup, which had poison in it.

    He became ill and, collapsed as soon as he reached home.

    The big sister cried and, placed his body in a back room of the house.

    She closed all the doors and windows.

    Then, began reading her brother's books, imitating his voice.

    The wealthy wiseguys came by to see if the poison had worked and were shocked.

    The heard the boy's voice reading his homework aloud and, ran.

    Back at the house where the plot started, they were all thirsty.

    Thinking it was safe, they drank all the cold soup.  And, they all died.



    Brother's Revival



    The sister acquired the leaves of a special flowering plant from a merchant.

    The plant was Fuuchi-baa (Mugwort) and, it's an antidote for many poisons.

    Holding the herbs to her brother's nostrils, she prayed.

    His eyes opened and he began breathing again.




    The wealthy family that owned the flower business had a daughter.

    She would fall in love with the boy saved by her magic herbs.

    Eventually, the poor brother and sister became part of the  wealthy flower family.


    Folktales of Okinawa ISBN4-947654-05-8  P.159

    Condensed from: Brother and Sister

    Okinawan-English Wordbook ISBN 978-0-8248-3192-8


     Related Post:

    Monday, August 10, 2015

    Travel Shots: Prayer at Katsuren Castle

    group, prayer,picnic,well,castle

    On the grounds of this UNESCO World Heritage attraction, there are sacred sites.

    Water wells, springs, shrines and groves may have visitors, worshiping and making offerings.

    This was the scene, I encountered, going up the hill to the castle.

    The photo was composed at a distance  to show the stone wall and some terrain.

    travel sign,English, Japanese, sacred site

    Once the worshipers left the area, this photo of the sign at the spring was taken.

    It gives a bit of history about the site and the name, Machida Spring.

    The images aren't anything, I would sell but, they help when I'm doing research.

    The people you meet at these places may be direct descendants of the royal families.

    It made me wish they hadn't taken off so fast, when it started to rain !


    World Heritage Site

    Sunday, August 9, 2015

    Wildlife Image: Frame Full of Fish

    tilapia, fish

    Camera: Pentax K3

    Lens: Pentax 300mm

    Exposure:  f/11   1/100   ISO 100

    Location: Okukubi River,  Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

    Date and Time:  MAR 26 2015  2:53PM

     Known as Kawasuzume (カワスズメ) in Japan, these fish are Tilapia.

    Introduced to many parts of the world for fish farming, they can become an invasive species.

    See a motion GIF and links to learn more about this fish, on this previous post.