Saturday, October 31, 2015

Revisiting Okawa Spring Looking for Caves and Snakes

Kin Town, spring, night

From the 2014 Photo Files



Working on a story that includes a cave, pretty women and a serpent, got me doing this.

It took some digging and switching of external hard drives to locate Okawa Spring.

It looks like, I hadn't taken any photos of this place, since May of last year.

This afternoon, I just walked down there with a camera and left the tripod in the office. 

A couple of images were composed and Geo-tagged but, the story isn't complete, yet.

The caves were easy to find and, there are plenty of pretty girls around here.

It's just, the snake wasn't ready to come out for my photo shoot.

Camera: Pentax KD10

Lens: Pentax 18-250 at 18mm

Exposure: f/19  30sec   ISO 100

Location: Okawa Spring, Namisato, Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time: May 23 2014 8:01PM

Friday, October 30, 2015

Beyond the Torii: King Sho En (尚圓王) Once Lived Here

wooden gate, torii, Kanemaru, Ginama

His Name Was Kanamaru



Born on an island off the northeast coast of Okinawa, Kanamaru farmed the land.

Hard working and successful, his ambitions may have led to his downfall.

One year, during a dry spell, his fields were the only ones where the crops had water.

Envious neighbors, accused him of stealing the water if, you can believe that.

Stealing, a precious thing like water, was considered a capital crime it that neck of the woods.

So, Kanamaru, hopped on a boat and, escaped to the big island of Okinawa.

Back behind the torii gate above, was the first place he resided.

It's in Ginama, a peaceful little fishing village, scrunched between the ocean and mountains.

There isn't much room for farmland so, maybe he decided to move along.

He might have suspected the captain of the boat he sailed on, would snitch and collect a bounty.

Or, it's possible, he tried his hand at fishing and, decided that wasn't the life for him. 

What possess people to move from the country, to the big city, always baffles me.

He moved to Shurii and got some sort of job with the government.

Pretty soon folks figured out how efficient he was and, the king hired him as treasurer.

Somehow, a the Sho Dude heading the dynasty started, disappointing the rest of the royalty.

They asked Kanamaru, how he would like to become the king.

He changed his name to Sho En and made all of his family some kind of royalty.

And, he kicked all the other Sho people out of the castle so, they couldn't be royalty anymore !

Dang. Don't you just love a good story with a happy ending ?


ISBN 978-0-8048-2087-5 The History of an Island People

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Whirlwind Tour of Kin Temple: Photo Highlights

Kin Kannon-do AKA Kin Kannon-ji



It was my good fortune, to spend a day traveling with the Click Okinawa Guy this week.

After wandering the island with cameras and video gear, he still had a few minutes to kill.

So, we made a quick stop at the temple, on the way back to my office.

Kin Kannon-ji, shrine, temple
The light was perfect and, I couldn't resist taking a shot of the orange-tiled roof.

It was one of those times, I didn't forget to have the Garmin turned on and, ready to use.

So, everywhere, we went, the satellites tracked our positions.

stone marker, sacred tree

This photo, I retrieved from my files and, pointed out the special tree.

There are over 100 trees on Okinawa with special, protected status.

This one, near the entrance to the shrine, happens to be over 350 years old.

The fukugi or garcinia tree survived the Battle of Okinawa and, is a cultural treasure.

gold, Buddha, statue

A walk, down into the cave alongside the temple, is mandatory, for anyone along with me.

As many times as I have been in that cave, I always have to photograph this Buddha statue.

No religion is required, to appreciate a good smile.

Buddha's Big Parasol, cave

 A little bit farther, down in the cave is Buddha's Parasol.

It was hot and steamy outside and, the depths of the cavern made life much cooler.

We went as far as we were able to go and, I let Mick know, the cave is really much larger.

Years ago, you could walk into the places where local awamori (sake) is aged.

That portion of the cave has been fenced-off so, you don't get to visit it for free, anymore.

A tour of  Nisshudo Cave brings tourists through the humongous, back end of the caves.

It is an inexpensive (about 5 bucks) tour and, well worth it for the camera crowd.

Mick, the Click Okinawa Guy took plenty of video and, I'm sure many photos.

Standby and, when he gets done traveling, I'm sure he'll show you some extraordinary footage.

Links to More INFO About Kin Kannon-ji:

Previous Posts:

Then and Now Photos: Kin Kannon Temple

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Common Map Butterfly (イシガケチョウ) Ishigakechou in Okinawa

Cyrestis thyodamas, butterfly, flowers

Latin Name: Cyrestis thyodamas



Common Name: Common Map Butterfly



It gets the name from resembling a map, with all the lines on the wings.

There are several similar looking one in the family of this species.

They are found throughout Asia and Southeast Asia.

Links for any butterfly enthusiasts may be viewed at:

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

OCT 27 2015 Full Moon 5 Images

full moon, left side of frame

The people who push clouds were kind to those in Okinawa tonight.

OCT Full Moon, Okinawa

These photos were taken in Kin Town, shortly after 6PM.

moon centered in frame

 Walking towards the tower, I like to shoot from, I saw the moon, already in the sky.

moon, left side of frame

 There wasn't any sense in climbing up that structure when, I could shoot from the ground.

full moon, centered

 These photos were all taken at a focal length of 700mm, from the same position on the ground.

The different sizes shown, are the result of cropping the photos to various sizes.

In the event of rain or, clouds tomorrow, I may just stay at home.

That's because, I don't think the full moon, is going to get any fuller than this, for me.

Some astronomy dudes, may want to argue the finer points of full moons.

Well, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, I'm waiting !

Monday, October 26, 2015

Almost Full Moon Over Kin Town Okinawa

moon, OCT 26 2015

The Moon Appears Full for Three Nights



It has become a habit of mine to go out with the camera most of those evenings.

Some online sources say, the full moon is tonight but, I disagree.

The moon doesn't look perfectly round. The tires on your car would be alright like this.

But, if one of your pistons, in the engine was this way, you'd be pumping oil.

Not, just on the internal parts of the engine; all over the highway, too !

The reason,I  shoot the moon so much, is we never know when it might get clouded over.

Some months of the year, it can rain or be cloudy, all three nights of the event.

Camera: Pentax K3

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

Location: Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  OCT 26 2015 at 6:58PM

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Citrus Fruit Known as Kumquat

kumquat, leaves, flowers

Known as Kinkan (きんかん) Locally


This shrub was located behind my office and, I had to do some research to find a name.

Scientists would call it Fortunella japonica.

The little round fruits are edible, skin and all. Sometimes they are used in cooked preserves.

Fortunella japonica, fruit, leaves

Originally from China, these fruits are grown worldwide.

Loaded with vitamins A and C, a cup of them sells for about 3 bucks in Japan.

kukquat plant, fruits
The plants can become a few meters tall; this one isn't two feet tall, yet.

This photo was taken from a low position with a wide angle lens and close-up to the plant.

The shrub happens to be growing out of a rainwater drainage ditch.

Once, I figure out, who owns that little patch of ground, I'll see if I can transplant the thing.

A little experiment was conducted by me, after I learned the fruits weren't poisonous.

A few of the little orange fruits, were swiped, washed and eaten, to see what they taste like.

They were delicious, now, I want my own kumquat tree !

More About Kumquats:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Okinawan Folktale: Driftwood and Charcoal

Not Happily Ever After for Everybody



This story comes to us from Miyako Island, where two friends lived.

One was a wealthy man from the east, the other, a poor man from the west side of the island.

Both of them had wives at home, expecting to deliver babies.

They decided to go fishing, to kill some time.

driftwood, beach, mountains, island

The tide hadn't come in, yet when they arrived at the beach.

With a couple of hours, to wait, taking a nap sounded like a good idea.

The poor guy quickly fell asleep on the ground, along the shore.

Wealthy dude, had to look for something to rest his head upon as a pillow, in order to sleep.

He found a piece of driftwood, to use as a pillow.

Something came out of the ocean and began speaking, to the driftwood not, the man.

Peeking through closed eyelids, the rich man saw the God of the Sea Dragon.

The god, was inviting the driftwood, to accompany him on a visit.

He wanted to go to the homes of the children being born, to give them good luck.

Driftwood, being utilized as a pillow, declined the invitation.

It asked the god, to tell the story of the visit, when it returned from the homes.

Disaster at Wealthy Home



The God of the Sea, visited the rich man's house first.  It was a terrible mess.

Things were unkempt inside and outside the home and, servants were scampering.

They were haphazardly preparing for the arrival of a newborn child.

One servant tossed a bucket of stinking fish water on the god as he was arriving to visit.  

He acted, as if the god, were some derelict beggar, to be shooed away.

Angry, the god, figured this family didn't deserve any good luck granted to it.

Impressed by the Poor Man's House



The visit to the poor man's house went quite differently.

As he neared the home, the god noticed the yard was well maintained.

The inside and outside of the residence were spotless.

The family, though poor, was busy preparing to celebrate a childbirth.

They had placed an offering, to the god, upon the sacred altar within the home.

The god, knew this family would be having a baby girl.

He gave the good luck to the, soon to be born, girl, plus a bonus.

The good luck, he had intended for the rich man's boy child, he bestowed upon the girl, too.

Back at the Seashore



When the god returned to the beach,  the rich guy was still sleeping on the driftwood.

He woke when he heard the driftwood ask the god about his excursion.

Keeping his eyes closed, he listened to the story.

God, told the driftwood, "All the luck was given to the family with the baby girl." 

Too angry to discuss the matter further, he returned to the ocean.

Now, the wealthy person, couldn't wait to go home; he had to wake the poor guy up.

Neither of them knew what the sex of their newborn babies would be.

Without giving away his secret to his friend, he had to come up with a plan.

He woke him and said, "I forgot something at home. Let's cancel the fishing trip."

A Genuine Schemer



Arriving at his home, the rich man discovered, a son had been born.

He rushed over to his poor friend's house and, congratulated him on the birth of his daughter.

Then, he mentioned, the babies both born on the same day, must be a sign from the heavens.

"We should arrange for them to be married."

Well, the poor guy couldn't resist an offer like that. So, they shook hands over the deal.

When the children became of age, they got married.

With the good luck brought into the family, the rich man became richer.

The rich man's son, frowned upon his lovely wife, who had come from a poor family.

He resented that he had been forced to marry such a peasant girl.

On one festive occasion, she fed him a bowl of cooked barley.

It was intended, to honor a god, for the successful harvest of the year.

He hated barley and, screamed at her, "I don't care if it's the Barley Festival."

"Get out of my house forever."

He packed her belongings and, told her to scram.

She begged to be allowed, to stay the night and, would leave in the morning.

She had nowhere to live, as her parents had died years earlier.

He refused to let her stay and, threw her out into the night.

She was wandering, in the darkness with tears, streaming down her face.

Suddenly, a voice spoke, telling her to visit a charcoal-maker named, Taro. 


Now the Charcoal 



The voice in the darkness, didn't give any directions and, the girl wondered where to go.

A pile of ants, tickled her feet and, began moving forward.

She followed the ants, barely visible, towards the mountains.

At the base of a mountain, she saw a lighted home and, the trail of ants disappeared.

The wooden house looked like a poor man's shack.

Knocking on the door, she got no response; nobody was at home.

Looking through a knothole in the door, the interior was just as shabby as the exterior.

Searching the rest of her surroundings, she saw firewood and charcoal in the yard.

For sure, this was the home of Sumiyaki Taro, the charcoal-maker, the voice told her about.

She decided to let herself in and, waited, siting on the floor, for his return home.

Charcoal Man Had a Great Day



Up in the mountain, he was burning wood to make charcoal.

He habitually, carried a large wooden bucket, to carry charcoal home at day's end.

For some reason, on this day, he got an unquenchable thirst and, went to drink some water.

He scooped some water, with cupped hands, from a stream, flowing down the hills.

It tasted fantastically good so, he drank large quantities. It was most excellent.

In fact, he discovered it, wasn't water. It was sake !

Wooden barrels, stained with charcoal are perfect for storing alcohol.

So, he left his day's worth of charcoal behind and, filled the tub with sake.

Once home, he placed the wooden tub full of sake, in the yard and, went into the house.

He was a little tipsy  and, got spooked, when he saw the beautiful woman.

Not sure if, he was drunk or, dreaming, he was speechless and, just stared at the girl.

Seeing his friendly eyes and smile on a charcoal-dusted face, she decided to speak first.

Before, she could utter her first word, a loud thunderclap was heard.

Thunder exploded again and, again frightening her.

She crawled over to Taro and, nestled up to him, shaking.

He held her head on his shoulder and comforted her, telling her not to worry.

Next thing you know, they became husband and wife.

They had plenty of children and became extremely wealthy.

Taro, figured out a way to quit the charcoal business and became a sake distributor.

Son of a Driftwood Pillow Person



Things didn't turn out so well for the original, rich man's family.

When the wealthy man's rotten son threw away his wife, things got bad.

Good luck, turned into bad luck and, they lost their fortunes.

The land and house were given up, to pay off debts.

Unlucky son, who kicked out his lucky wife, became a homeless beggar.

Walking the streets, one day, he spotted a mansion of a house and, went to beg for a meal.

When he knocked on the door, the woman who opened it, recognized him.

She, didn't say anything to her former spouse but, took pity on him and, got some food.

She brought him a bowl of cooked barley and, he quickly woofed it down.

Acting like a starved animal, he ate bowl after bowl and, she kept feeding him more.

After awhile, in as sweet of a tone, as you can imagine, she asked him,

"How's the barley?"

"Yum, yum, it's delicious." he replied.

Then she said, "That's strange. I thought you hated the stuff."

Suddenly, he recognized her.

He gulped his last swallow of the grain and, fell to the ground, where he choked to death !


Folktales of Okinawa ISBN4-947654-05-8 P.120

Condensed from: Shares of Fortune

Friday, October 23, 2015

Museum Photo: Before Fire Engines Came Along

  Discovered on Motobu Peninsula



Stopping by a roadside market, you may find some true gems, tucked away in museums.

What's called a Michi no Eki in Japanese, is a highway road stand.

Local crafts, agricultural products and, meals are available at reasonable prices. 

antique fire pump, museum

This room is a small museum inside the Michi no Eki in Gushiken, Motobu, Okinawa.

A few times, in the past, I had been this place with the cameras.

The lights weren't on when I first spotted it and, I wasn't really sure what I was seeing.

Someone, pointed out to me, it's a fire wagon or, cart with a water pump attached.

Some days, I wake up, feeling pretty old but, I've never seen anything like this.

A guy from the establishment saw me in the back room and, switched on the lights for me.

This photo, I wanted to take with natural light so, I asked him to switch things off.

The photo was taken at f/11 in 1.3 seconds.

That contraption is a treasure. They should turn the air-conditioning on in that room.

It looks like the real deal, to me. Save some money on the light bill.

And, spend it all on climate control, to keep the thing preserved.

That's what I'd do, anyway !

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hermit Crab from Sesoko Island

Land Hermit Crab, beach

Not Much Bigger Than a Thumbnail



It took awhile to get an identification on this Critter because, I didn't take enough shots.

It's best, to get some sharp close-ups but, I was far away, standing on a boat ramp.

For now, we'll call it a Land Hermit Crab (Coenobita cavipes)  until someone complains.

Called Okayadokari (オカヤドカリ) in Japan, they don't always live in seashells.

A friend, Shawn Miller, helped with the identification of this crab. 

And, he finds all kinds of poor crabs, using trash, they find on the beach for homes.

 With the Japanese name, I located enough photos, to help make a decision.

Placing オカヤドカリ in Google Japan, I found enough images to close this case.

Shawn Miller's page dedicated to Crabs with Beach Trash Homes, you should visit.

Another cool link, I discovered:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bird Photo: Grey Heron with a Brown Belly

First Time for Everything



Out on a photo shooting day with a couple of  hippies, I spotted this bird.

Not prepared to shoot wildlife, the big lenses, stayed behind and, I felt like kicking myself.

There were other Grey Herons in this location but, this one really stood out.

There are so many in my collection, I really didn't feel the need to photograph any more.

This character either has brown belly feathers or, was playing somewhere in the mud.

It was hanging around with Ardea cinerea (Grey Herons) but, I don't know if, it is one.

All the Grey Herons, I have ever seen, have yellow legs and white undersides.

None of my bird expert friends were around, to talk to so, I did some research.

Over at ARKive, Grey Heron was the first place to look at images. 

They tell you about the bird's colors, breeding habits and population distribution.

Nothing, looked exactly like this specimen so, I checked other sites.

More information was gathered at Birdlife International  and, I learned something new.

"Breeding site The nest is a stick platform that is often re-used over successive years (Kushlan and Hancock 2005), usually positioned high in a tall tree up to 50 m, but also on the ground or on cliff edges, in reedbeds or in bushes. In reed-beds nests may be built of reeds, and ground nests may be reduced to a slight scrape, ringed with small stones and debris (Snow and Perrins 1998)."

A Grey Heron with a nest in the mud, surrounded by rocks, could get a brown belly. 

All kinds of herons are pictured at, Carolina Birds Organization

There's a Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath) with similar underside markings.

It's got me wondering. Does this bird have mud on it's tummy and legs ?

Or, could it be the result of a Grey Heron, fooling around with a Goliath Bird ?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Before and After Photos of an Onstage Dancer

Kajimaya Celebration



When someone in Okinawa reaches the age of 97 a big party takes place.

Kajimaya ( カジマヤー) is the word for pinwheel.

Pinwheels and, other gifts are given to the elders on this memorable occasion.

At 97, you can start acting like a kid again; you're on the way to becoming 100 !

before image, Yotsu Dake, dancer, kimono

 In the morning, some events were held and, two senior women were honored.

There were speeches, presentations and a parade around town in a decorated vehicle.

Flowers and brightly colored pinwheels, decorated the automobile and village streets.

Then everyone went home to feast and rest up for the evening activities.

A wedding hall, inside Moon Beach Resort, is where this photo was taken.

It was fairly crowded with friends and family of those being honored.

Using an external strobe, mounted on the camera, I wasn't impressed with the results.

after photo, shadows removed, white background, dancer, kimono

Using Adobe Elements the 6 million pixel image was cleaned up a bit.

Harsh shadows were lightened or, removed, to make the girl stand out as the subject.

And, some of the white background got moved around to clean up the wall behind her.

before posting the photo online, resolution gets lowered and it is shrunken.

That's to keep the enemy from borrowing and printing my images, for free.

Internet image thieves get a surprise from me, whenever they decide to swipe a photo.

Something as simple as Adobe elements, installs an invisible watermark, for me.

And, my tracking service, catches them when they post any of my photos online.

A nice legal-like notification, asks them if, they'd like to go to court.

Too busy, to catch that girl and ask her name yesterday, I'll see if, I can find her.

She has a humongous, high quality print, coming if, she feels like signing a model release !

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Breaking News: Australia Has the Best Beef in the World !

medium rare steak, bread, vegetables, metal platter

Delicious Australian Steak


This hunk of Australian steak was what I had for lunch Friday. 

Saliva was trying to drip down my beard, while the photography was going on. Dang !

The food started getting cold.  I took so many photos the metal platter stopped steaming.

But, when I sat down and started, sawing with a steak knife, it was still hot on the inside.

My camera shooting buddy, Doc Graff was probably half done eating his when I started.

The first thing I did was complain, about how tough Australian beef is to chew.

It was scrumptious but, sorta leathery if, you know what I mean.

The restaurant, we were at was Green Field Steak and Beef, in Itoman City. 

They get a five star review, from me because, I enjoyed the food, service and low price.

 The meal included soup, salad and a glass of iced tea and, cost under 30 bucks for both of us.

 It was alright and, I'll probably go back there to eat a few more times.

There are some more expensive cuts of meat, I could have ordered and, they have beef stew, too.

For sure, I'll never complain about Australian beef, again, as long as I live.

Australia Won a Contest for the Best Steak in the World



It's not the steak, in the photo above. They keep that stuff in the Land Down Under.

But, they took a pile of it over to the contest in London, England.

The judges were looking at things like, marbling, color, fat and taste not, steroids.

The winning steaks came from a cow they call, Aizakura Wagyu Beef.

A whole cow sells for something like $190,000.00 !

That would be $450.00 for 1kg or, 2.2lbs.

Er, something over $50.00 for a quarter pound hamburger, I'm thinking.

The tough Australian steaks are all, I will be eating, from now until Okinawa freezes over !



Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sesoko Beach Images Taken at 420mm -- Animated GIFs

Waiting for Birds of Prey



These are some scenes created while standing on Sesoko Island, near the bridge.

With a big lens, that won't zoom or, retract some imagination had to be used.

concrete tide breakers,ocean, waves

The Pentax K3 and 300mm lens + a 1.4 rear converter, gave a focal length of 420mm.

 It was warm but, a bit windy so some action of the waves, splashing was photographed.

girls jumping, beach

 Young girls jumping for camera selfies, entertained me, for awhile.

It's important, to know the light conditions in the sea and sky, when I'm out shooting.

If a fish hawk came along and dove out of the sky, into the water, I would have to be ready.

woman, white shirt, black cap, near sea

 This gal wasn't as active as the others but, was posed in great light.

And the wind action, made it an interesting scene.

jetski, banana boat ride, green

 Most beaches have these jetskies, pulling what's called a banana boat.

In the past, they were always colored yellow.

 Nowadays, I guess, they have to give the green bananas equal opportunity !

jetski, banana boat ride, empty

The banana boat ride, returned without the passengers.

My guess: They used it as a taxi to go to some rock outcropping and, would return later.

boat, Gusuku, Motobu Harbor

 It was unbelievably warm for the month of October so, I moved into the shade by the bridge.

Looking back towards Motobu, a boat named Gusuku, came into the harbor.

This scene shows was photographed, just before it passed under the Sesoko Island bridge.

Even though, no fish hawks made an apperance, I had my fill of fun in the sun.

And, a local fisherman, told me we wouldn't have to worry about any typhoon.

So, I was assured that more great weather would be coming for the weekend.

Now, you have an idea what some of the activities are available at this beach.

And, you can see how I keep myself occupied, while waiting for birds.

A man has to do something, to keep his eyes away from all the gals in bikinis !

Friday, October 16, 2015

In Okinawa You Can Flyboard !

man, ocean, flyboard, gif

What Will They Think of Next ?



It would be best if, you had some agility and, no disability before you try this water sport.

This dude was fly-boarding at Sesoko-jima in Motobu, yesterday.

People who are really good at the sport do acrobatics out there.

Personally, I'd rather open my wallet, to try paragliding because, I could bring a camera along.

For those, interested in attempting flying closer to the water, I found a link.

Island Life Concierge
Where else in the world, could you do stuff like this, in the month of October ?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Images of Sesoko Island Bridge (瀬底大橋) in October

blue sky, view, top of bridge

Beautiful Afternoon on Sesoko-jima

Out with a big lens, looking for some birds, I got bored and decided to shoot the bridge.

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

blue cloudless sky, metal, bridge

There were no clouds in the sky at the moment so, I tried some different angles.

When you're driving or, walking across the bridge you don't notice things like this.

steel and sky, bridge

As mant times as, I've gone to this island, I never thought about taking photos like this.

There were plenty of pretty girls, wearing bikinis but, I wouldn't shoot them.

Today, I was supposed to shoot some Fish Hawks, catching fish.

Sesoko Bridge, wide angle, 瀬底大橋‏

The birds, I wanted to shoot, never showed up so, I changed lenses.

This is a wide angle view from Sesoko Island, looking back towards Okinawa.

More photos were taken of the activities on the beach.

It will be awhile longer before I get those images processed because, things are busy around here !

Previous Posts of Sesoko Island Bridge: