Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Okinawan Folktale: Nose Shutter

Sonohyan Utaki, UNESCO World Heritage, stone gate

Stone Gate at Sonohyan Utaki



The story began here at this UNESCO World Heritage landmark.

Back in the days of the Ryukyu Dynasty it was a custom of the King to pray at Sonohyan Utaki 
 for a safe journey before making a pilgrimage to Kudaka Island.

At the gates to the shrine, the King asked for one of the guards to return to Shuri Castle and
 fetch his rain gear, in case it may rain, later in the day. 

The escorts, didn't think it could possibly rain, on  a beautiful sunny day so, conveniently forgot about the foul weather attire.

Before the procession reached Baten Port, to depart by ship for Kudaka Island, black clouds appeared overhead and, started dumping freezing rain on the pilgrimage.

Once the King discovered, no one had bothered to bring his rain garments, he roared, “We can't visit the sacred island of Kudaka, soaking wet.” 

 He was cross-eyed and shivering in his royal, water sloshed attire and so enraged, the escort of soldiers feared for their lives. 

No amount of apologies could calm the fuming ruler down.

One crazy servant came forward and, tried to cheer him up. 

 He told the King, “I'm glad we got a good soaking from the heavens. It made me realize, how fortunate we are and, we should be thankful."

The King became even more enraged and, drew his sword, to chop off the fool's head.

Quick Wits


Think about it your Royal Highness” said the servant. “If our Creator had made us, with our noses pointing in the opposite direction, we couldn't breathe on rainy days.

 We didn't come to earth, equipped with nose shutters so, God made sure our noses, were placed pointing downwards.”

king, laughing, servant, nose shutter, sketch
Sketch by Atsushi Maezato

The King had a good belly laugh.  The thought of people, wearing “Nose Shutters” cheered him up and, they probably, continued on the pilgrimage to Kudaka Island, in spite of the rain.


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

Condensed from: Hana-no Amado P. 152

Travel Shot -- Hamahiga Island Furusato Coastline

island, ocean,sky, clouds, seawall

Nice Weather Considering It's Rainy Season


On a recent visit to Hamahiga Island it became necessary to chase this scene.

Noon is probably, the worst time of day for outdoor photography.

The blue skies and colors of the ocean, made me do it. I just had to wait for a moment.

When some clouds, covered and filtered the bright sunlight behind me, I was ready.

The people on the beach, didn't need to be in the scene so, I went out on the seawall.

Some folks, call this Furusato Beach.

In Japanese it's  浜ふるさと海岸 (Beach hometown coast) when translated.

TripAdvisor lists Hamahiga Island as #4 of 35 Things to Do in Uruma, Okinawa.

Check it out if, you get a chance !

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Butterfly Images -- Possibly Pale Grass Blue

Zizeeria maha, GIF, butterfly, garden

Small as a Fingernail



These photos were taken over the past two days, right behind my office.

Some were shot using a 300MM lens and, others with a 50MM, when I could get close enough.

blue winged butterfly, striated antenna

It's a fast moving critter with blue wings.

garden, butterfly, Pale Grass Blue

When it lands on something, the wings close up and, you won't see any blue.

blue butterfly, wings folding,garden

A Pale Grass Blue  (Zizeeria maha) can be found throughout Asia.

Some, were brought to Okinawa from Fukushima for observation.

The scientists, fed them contaminated (radioactive) food for their studies.

Now, don't panic when I tell you this but, nuclear stuff deforms the poor things.

Not to worry, I think all the contaminated freaks, were locked up in a labratory.

If I ever see one with three antenna, I'll only use the 300MM lens from now on !


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Travel Photo: Kayaking the Okukubi River

mangrove, forest, river,stairs, kayaks, GIF

Popular Tourist Attraction



People from all over Japan, come to Kin Town for these excursions.

It costs them 50-60 bucks, to paddle up and down the river and visit the mangrove forest.

When the tide goes out, the mouth of the Okukubi River becomes sort of dry.

So, visiting the mangroves, by kayak during low tide, isn't a good idea.

All the folks in the tourism business, know the best times of day to go kayaking here.

For more information, visit one of these websites:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Travel Photo: Ikei Island Bridge Okinawa Japan

red bridge, islands, Miyagi, Ikei, Okinawa, ocean

Camera: Pentax K1

Lens: Pentax 15-30MM ED 2.8ED at 15MM

Exposure: f/22   1/30   ISO 100

Location: Miyagi Island, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  MAY 27 2016  10:09AM

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wordless Wednesday MAY 25 2016

clouds, night, moon

Related post: May 2016 Full Moon

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Down the Red Hallway

red walls, red floor, hallway, bar,flowers

A New My Place Opened in Town



They had a grand opening, I missed out on last weekend and, I felt sort of bad.

So, when I heard they were open last night, I had to check it out.

It's probably been over fifteen years since the last time I've entered this building.

It's been remodeled and, is a bit smaller than, I remember it being back in the old days.

A cooperative staff, customers and, an assistant cameraman, helped make this video.

How many people remember the original My Place ?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Meateaters -- Checkout the Ultimate Onigiri at FamilyMart !

bacon, cheese, onigiri, rice ball, triangular, seaweed

No Apologies to the Vege Crowd



Vegetarians are real people, too and, I wouldn't want to offend them.

In my lifetime I've kissed a few and, they weren't bad at all.  Especially garlic eating ones.

Just yesterday, I made this discovery and, have been meaning to photograph one.

But, they taste so good, I kept eating them instead.

Somebody, finally invented an onigiri that satisfies grease and protein cravings. Yay !

Onigiri, is a finger food (rice bell) and this one happens to be triangular.

They are designed, to be eaten cold but, I like my grease hot so, I experimented.

onigiri, steam, cooked
 Just make a small tear, on one end of the bag and, nuke it for 20-30 seconds.

It'll come out of the oven, piping hot and, the cheese gets all melted.

The juices from the bacon and hamburger, get mingled with that sticky rice.  Yummy !

Who knows ?  Maybe, the seaweed is healthy for you, too.

So far, I've only consumed three of them. 

It got me wondering if, they might be cheaper by the dozen.

Just In Case There's No Convenience Store Nearby

Some research was done and, you might want try making your own rice ball foods.

Once you locate some seaweed and sticky rice, chop up some cows and pigs.

It looks too difficult for me, to bother attempting all that work, just to eat.

Heck.  For under ten bucks, I can buy four of them !  

FamilyMart on Facebook

Sunday, May 22, 2016

MAY 2016 Full Moon

full moon, May 22 2016, Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Camera: Pentax K1

Lens: Sigma 50-500 with 1.4 converter Focal Length 700MM 

Exposure:  f/16  1/25   ISO 100

Location: Kin Town,  Okinawa, Japan 

Date and Time:  May 22  2016  9:35PM

Saturday, May 21, 2016

2016 Abushibare (畦払い) A Favorite Photo

prayer, culture, boat, beach, offerings,worshipers

Everyone Praying



This photo was taken at 10:16AM on the beach at Yaka, Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan.

It's a favorite, out of 150 images taken today because, I was fortunate enough, to get that close. 

There were plenty of other photographers and note takers at this cultural event.

Sometimes, the crowd of reporters and photographers, outnumbers the worshipers at an event.

That was probably, true today but, everyone acted professionally and, I'm glad they did.

Each of us, took turns, allowing others, to get in close, to do their work.

It's been a long day and, I'm still waiting, to find out if the full moon will appear tonight. 

Many other images, will have to be processed, at a later date.

Some more candid shots (unprocessed) may be seen, in a Facebook album. 

Learn more about Abushibare:

 Abushibare (畦払い) Snails Got Sent Out to Sea Today

Friday, May 20, 2016

Action (GIF) at the White Kitchen in Kin Town

chef, big fire, wok, kitchen, flames

Consider It a Controlled Burn



The kitchen wasn't really bouncing around that much; it was me, using a cellphone.

To do this guy justice, I'll have to go back someday with a real camera and tripod.

It must have cost me about twenty-five bucks, to get the flames, I wanted for this animation.

When I got home, I told the wife, "Look, I bought a whole week's worth of groceries."

There was fried rice, assorted chunks of deep fat-fried chicken and, whatnot.

If you want to find out, which order, he's cooking, to make all that fire, just ask.

That meal is still in my fridge, waiting for me to reheat it in a microwave.

See, I watched him, do the fried rice and fried chicken but, they didn't make any big flames.

When the Mama, in the kitchen, figured out, what I needed, she told the Papa.

There was no way, I needed another meal, to carry home but, I wanted a big fire.

So, I paid her for, whatever  he's cooking and, waited for the flames to start jumping.

Tell them, you want the order that makes a big fire and, they'll hook you up, I bet !

BTW, That's the White Kitchen if, you're looking for a good meal in Kin Town.

Nobody in the village, cooks better fried rice, fried chicken or, whatnot's than, that guy.

If, you're into following maps, it's located HERE.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

After a Hard Day at Work It's Time for Some Peace

It Should Be Quiet Tonight Too



A new smartphone and some other gadgetry has been keeping me occupied, lately.

Just when, you think you've mastered the stuff, all hell breaks loose.

Today, I walked around snapping pictures with the android, instead of a real camera.

Then, got the bright idea to upload a little movie, it made for me via YouTube.

The thing is still  being repaired by the fixer-uppers, as I type this blog.

Whoa.  Here it comes !

Now, it plays a little fast and, doesn't give you much time to read the text.

All I can tell you if, you want to read the words, is stop the damn thing and, read.

Or, you could just listen to the music I swiped and, forget about the reading part.

Now, you know, why I need to get some peace and quiet !

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Kamakiri (カマキリ) AKA a Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis, flower, lily, garden

On an Easter Lily



It was raining and, I was under a carport when I first spotted the critter.

Don't let the photo fool you.  I rotated it for a better view.

The praying mantis, was using the lily as an umbrella, I think.

Praying Mantis, white background, side view, indoors

The cold rain, soaking me started getting on my nerves so, I came up with an idea.

Without disturbing the predator, I snipped the flower off the plant with some scissors.

And, I brought the Easter Lily into my office. Mrs. Yamashiro will never notice, hope.

While I was running around the office, looking for some white paper, the bug got busy.

It crawled up inside the flower so, I couldn't see its head. That wasn't a good idea.

First, I snipped off the other end of the lily but, still couldn't get a good shot.

The next thing I did, was cut the whole flower wide open and, shook the bug out.

Once, it got on that white paper, I had to do some fast shooting.

The rascal, didn't seem too excited and, just gave me a dirty look.

 Then I decided, it might be a good idea, to tryout a black background.

Only a few quick shots were taken here and, the mantis started running around.

It climbed up the wall, all the way to the ceiling and, I couldn't reach it.

So, I grabbed a stepladder and Mrs. Yamashiro's shredded flower, to catch the thing.

The idea, was to get the thing, back out in nature, untouched by human hands.

When, I bounced off the ladder, with the bug inside the flower, it escaped.

It flew, directly at me and, landed on my shoulder.  Out the door, I went.

Then, I ran back over to the garden, I shook myself like a wet puppy.

The last time I saw the bug, it gave me a dirty look and, ran down my back.

Bugs don't scare me but, praying mantis are, really some wild characters.

Did you know, sometimes a female will bite her mate's head off, while they're having sex ?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Butterfly Named a Banded Awl

butterfly,nature,garden, Asia, image

It Looks Like a Moth



There seems to be some confusion in the butterfly experts world; I'm glad I ain't one of them.

If you think bird watchers are crazy, you probably don't want to mess with butterfly fanatics.

It was another rainy day so, I spent a few hours, trying to find a name for this bug.

After looking at only a few hundred thumbnail photos, I thought it was nailed down.

  Banded Awl (Hasora moestissima moestissima) on Flickr gave me a scientific name.

Off I went, plugging that nomenclature into search engines, to get verification.

At Butterflies of Singapore they have the Life History of the Common Banded Awl.

Nice enough people, they call butterflies, Nature's Flying Jewels. Imagine that.

Anyway, the photos show butterflies, that look just like this one.

But, in Singapore the Latin name is Hasora chromus chromus.

Over at Butterfly Circle, they would agree with the Flying Jewel folks in Singapore.

But Nature Society (Singapore) would call the critter Hasore vitta vitta.

It's just a Plain Banded Awl, to them. All the photos, look like the same butterfly, to me.

At Butterflies of India, it's a Hasora vitta indica - India Plain Banded Awl, wouldn't ya know.

We could go on and on, adding links to pictures of butterflies but, I won't.

If you take those scientific names and search, you'll find all kinds of different butterflies.

Half of them, don't look anything like the photo, I posted above.

So, I sat back and tried to picture, all the butterfly experts, coming together.

They'd have field guides, notebooks, binoculars and big butterfly nets in their hands.

There's no telling if, they are violent types of people, when they get in a disagreement.

So, I decided to not try and place any concrete scientific name on this little dude.

Let's call it a Banded Awl that looks like a moth, from now on, for the sake of world peace !

Monday, May 16, 2016

Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Okinawa

snail, raindrops, plant, motion GIF, animation

Snails and Selfies

Mother Nature tries to keep me cooped up indoors sometimes and, today was one of those days.

It isn't like there's not enough stuff that needs to be done around the office.

People like me, need to get outside for fresh air and cigarettes, once in awhile.

This snail, was so small, ten of them could fit on my thumbnail and, still have plenty of room.

So, I used a 300MM lens to take about 75 shots and create this animation.

There are only 5 or 6 images, I used to make the GIF and, the rest got thrown away.

Ryukyu Mike, self, portrait

Playing around with the new Pentax K1 and 15-30MM lens, I did some selfies.

People can probably tell, I'm not really into studio photography or, trimming beards, either.

Plenty of my self portraits, got thrown away today, too but, I saved a few.

Maybe, I'll post some more over on Facebook, just for laughs.

If anyone ever asks me, where to get studio photography done, I'll send them to Chris Wilson.

Meanwhile, I'll be hoping rainy season on Okinawa goes by quickly so, I can get outdoors again.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hungry Caterpillars Eat Plenty of Food

caterpillar, eating, greens,garden, animation

Monster Was Eating Veges



It was one of those days, I didn't feel like walking too far with a 300MM lens.

So, I just went out back and looked around for something interesting to shoot.

Along came this brightly colored caterpillar and, it put on quite a show.

The little furry critter was eating vegetables in Mr's Yamashiro's garden plot.

It's a good thing, she wasn't around, to see all the damage this thing was creating.

The thought occurred to me, I could perform a random act of kindness.

Grab the culprit and, throw him over the fence, into a neighboor's vegetable patch.

Some people like to squish the hairy things, with their feet.  Not me.

And, I wasn't in a caterpillar chucking mood that day, either.

It did get me wondering, "How much food can one of them eat?"

Some of them eat 27,000 times the weight of their body, during their lifetime.

Don't diet. Eat more. Maybe, you'll turn into something as pretty as a butterfly !

 After, I shot about 5 gigabytes worth of photos, I let the rascal get away.

End of story

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Blue Skies and Flying Fish

koinobori,carp streamers, sky over a flooded field

OK They're Carp Streamers



Brightly colored koinobori are still flapping in the breeze by Nature Mirai (ネイチャーみらい).

There was nobody down in that rice paddy but me, this afternoon.

The trip to an outer island today, got cancelled.  I'll tell you what happened.

Late last night, my Minister of Transportation and, I  had sort of a meeting, in a bar.

We got discussing the weather and stuff like that, while soaking up some air-conditioning.

In order to catch the ferry, we had to go home early and, wake up, before 4AM.

After 3 or 4 ice cold mugs of Orion Beer, we both came to the conclusion, "That'd be dumb."

So, we contacted the trip organizer and, told him the truth.

We figured, drinking cold beers was more important than, traveling to another island.

Bright Sunny Day


Instead of spending six hours to see another island, I took about a six mile hike in Kin Town.

There was plenty of activity along the Okukubi River and, I've got photos, to prove it.

Time will be spent later, sorting through kayaks, birds, butterflies and dragonfly images.

My Minister of Transportation, messaged me this evening and, he's got to work tonight.

He's a big, gnarly dude, working in some special kind of body shop.

After, he gets off work, we'll get together and, discuss the day's events.

More than likely, we'll wind up going to some of our regular watering holes.

Whichever pretty gal brings us our beers, we always, buy them a drink, too.

Oh.  I almost forgot to tell you, how I shot the photo above.

It was with the camera and lens, mentioned on yesterday's blog.

30MM  f/8  1/500  ISO 100 

Location:  Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  MAY 15  2016  1:38PM

Friday, May 13, 2016

Getting Shot at the Camera Store

Pentax K1, HD Pentax-D 15-30mmF2.8D lens, girl

It's Become a Ritual


When I pick up a new lens or camera at this establishment, I let someone try it out.

This gal was having so much fun with my new lens and camera, I had to take a shot of her.

She's using the K1 and a Pentax-D FA 15-30mmF2.8ED lens.

Nishizatosan must have taken a dozen pictures with my new lens before, I got to use it.

The shots, she took, you really don't want to see.  They were good enough.

 But, who wants to see an old guy in flip-flops, dancing around the shop and making faces?

Tomorrow, I'll be out on a boat, going island-hopping, to see how that rig works at sea!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Travel Photo: Orion Beer Lanterns at Night

lantern, izakaya, Orion Beer, lights, evening


May Be Seen Throughout Okinawa



Fooling around with some new equipment, I ended up at the other side of town.

The sun went down and I remembered, I was supposed to get home early tonight.

There's no time to process all the shots I took today so, I'll just post this one.

Camera:  Pentax K1

Lens:  Pentax - D FA 15-30MM at 22MM

Exposure:  f/11  1/13   ISO 800

Location:  Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan 

Date and Time:  MAY 12 2016  7:21PM

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wordless Wednesday MAR 11 2016

boys, children,ocean,sky, playing, jumping,diving
Photo Credit: Chiaki Maezato

Monday, May 9, 2016

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

イシガケチョウ, butterfly, animation

Found Throughout Okinawa and Asia



They are called Cyrestis thyodamas if, you prefer biological names.

Some folks have been asking me about GIF photos so, I dug this one out of last year's files.

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Pentax 300MM and 1.4 converter Focal Length 420MM

Exposure:  f/5.6   1/500   ISO 400

Location:  Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  OCT 28  2015  12:41PM

 Learn how easy it is to create these animations, at Google Photos Help.

Previous post about the Common Map Butterfly

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Almost Missed the 2016 Kin Town Mud Festival

children,mud,smiles, peace signs

Tambo Fest (たんぼフエスヌ) in Japanese

Taking a leisurely stroll to reach the event, sounded like a good idea.

It started at 10AM and, was scheduled to last until 6PM.

Knowing the afternoon sun could get unbearable, I decided to show up in the late afternoon.

While I was walking in the shade of mangroves along the river, the weather took a turn.

It started sprinkling some raindrops on the scene so, people ran for cover.

These were the last four kids, left and, they were getting ready to hop in the shower.

Of course, I got parental consent to photograph the children.

But, I didn't get a signed model release from he lady.

Because, she was all muddy, too !


Friday, May 6, 2016

Chinese Spot-billed Duck in Flight

Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Anas zonorhyncha,カルガモ

Called Karugamo (カルガモ) in Japan



In the past, I've identified these birds as Anas poecilorhyncha but, have an update.

Scientists came to the conclusion this is a Anas zonorhyncha.

They differ from Anas poecilorhynca in a few ways.

There is no red spot, where the bill meets the duck's face and, they are larger birds.

Those other Anus birds don't have quite the dark blue or purple feathers, either.

We have enough things to worry about, without angering China.

So, from now on, I'll be calling these birds Anas zonorhyncha not, poecilorhyncha !

bird, flying, purple feathers

These photos were taken last night at 6:15PM along the Okukubi River.

The Pentax K1 was at ISO 3200 and, more images may be seen on Facebook


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Testing the Pentax K1 Full Frame on a Bug in Flight

gold dragonfly, flight, branch

Dragonfly Landing



Camera: Pentax K1

Lens: Pentax 300MM F4

Exposure:  f/11   1/6400   ISO 12800

Location:  Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  MAY 4 2016  11:26AM

Moving a Little Slow Today


 As much as I need to learn all the functions of this new camera, I took yesterday off.

It's Golden Week and, some time had to be spent with the family.

Another high-tech gadget, I've been learning to use, came along to the beach with me.

Unbeknownst to me, the thing makes movies, whenever it feels like.

Totally unedited, here's a minute movie, showing some of yesterdays events:


Monday, May 2, 2016

Catch of the Day -- Kids Fishing

children, fishing, pole, fish,river

Here's a Scene You Don't Run Across Every Day



These youngsters had a fishing pole and, knew how to use it.

Instead of walking around, glued to smart phones, they went down to the river.

They enjoyed the fresh air provided by nature and, caught some fish.

Camera:  Pentax K3

Lens:  Pentax 300MM and 1.4 converter  Focal Length 420MM

Exposure:  f/6.3   1/1000   ISO 100  

Location:  Okukubi River, Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  APR 28  2016  4:08PM

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Okinawa's Official Flower Blooming Now

flowers, Deigo, Okinawa

These Flowers Light the Hills Up



They caught me by surprise and, I'm lucky to have spotted them, blooming along HWY 58.

The reason, I had stopped at this little village office, was to see if, I could get a historical book.

The kucho (village mayor) knew what I was talking about and, left the building.

He hopped in his car and, drove off, down the highway. Had me thinking WTF !

So, I walked around, taking photos while, my tummy was growling for lunch.

It seemed like twenty minutes, went by before the kucho returned.

He pulled his car alongside the office and, waved for me to come over.

Handing me a brand new, historical photo book of the village, he refused to take any payment.

Bowing, I thanked him, turned around and, saw those bright red flowers.

Whoa.  "Are those red things Deigo's," I asked him.  And, he said "Yes." 

The best deigo flowers, I've seen in Okinawa this year and, a free book, all at the same spot.

I'll never say a bad word about that kucho, ever again !

Camera:  Pentax K3

Lens:  Pentax 18-250 at 154MM

Exposure:  f/8   1/160   ISO 100

Location:  Ginama, Kunigami, Okinawa, Japan

Latitude: 26.845875  Longitude: 128.255294

Date and Time:  APR 29 2016  12:53PM