Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Sashiba (サシバ) the Grey-faced Buzzard Shot Today



Camera: Pentax K1

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

Exposure:  f/9.5  1/125   ISO 100

Location: Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time: November 6, 2018, 9:01 AM



Saturday, November 3, 2018

What the Heck Is a Horohoro Forest?

12 Photos from a Nature Hike




There were three of us, long-term Okinawa residents, on this excursion.

With a grand total of almost a century on the island, we've never been here before.


hill, forest, trees, steps, trail, Okinawa



One of the things I love about the Ryukyu Island Chain is the discoveries to be made.

Just when you think you've seen it all, something else will pop up.



Japanese, map, sign, Horohoro Forest, park, trail, Okinawa


Fooling Around in the Travel Industry




Over the years we learned to make use of the travel information offices.

It pays, to make contacts, gather tourism brochures, and swipe maps.

People become great friends when they see a couple of foreigners promoting travel and tourism.



forest, trail, hill, steps, logs, Okinawa


Dozens of times, we had traveled through this area and never noticed the Horohoro Forest.

Last year, we promised to take a girl named Yuka out for lunch.

Her 28th birthday was in October. She's always helpful. We owe her a steak dinner.

Well, a typhoon or something happened and, we missed the date!




Horohoro Forest, park, trail, Okinawa, woods, stairs


Mothers tell your daughters to ignore old guys promising you steak dinners.

Here's what led us to Horohoro. We promised to take the gal to lunch, again.

This time it was supposed to be something a little bit different.

Have you ever heard of Flying Fish Soba?  Me neither but, that was the plan.

Yuka, being in the travel and tourism business, was promoting the fish and noodles soup.

Yuck. I told everybody if the place had Hamburger Soba, I'd order that.



forest, nature, woods, vegetation, Okinawa


The girl wouldn't be free for lunch until noon so, we had some time to kill.

In a brand new travel information office, I noticed a map with Horohoro on it.

Asking a guy behind the counter, where Horohoro might be, he helped me.

He came out from behind the counter and pointed at a green-roofed building.

Up there, behind that building on the hill, Horohoro Forest could be found.



Things Like This Just Don't Happen




Bumbling around, making believe you speak Japanese and stuff, goes a long way.

The forest was up on that hill and we had a bit over an hour to kill. What could go wrong?



forest, trail, trees, jungle, Okinawa


Three elderly gentlemen with a young date pending, should get out and exercise.

So, there we were, huffing and puffing up and down the jungle trails.

Just picture it. Man against nature. Earthy elements and stuff like that. Wilderness.




Fortunately We Traveled in a Pack





It's easy to get carried away and forget about a young gal and stinking fish soup.

The wife told me, flying fish soba would be good for my heart. Yuck.

Anyhow, up and down the hills along that trail, the steps made navigation fairly easy.

Nobody was out there except us. Toilets seemed to be everywhere behind any tree.

Um, I mean, "They don't have any." You have to use your imagination.



logs, steps, trail, forest, Okinawa



About halfway through the nature trail, we came across a second map signboard.

You know, where the red dot is means, "You Are Here."

Just past that sign, the trail took a big dip, going downhill. We checked the time.

There was no sense going down a steep grade if, we had to hurry back up for a date.

If, you ever get old remember, travel in packs. It's smarter than traveling alone.






forest, trail, stairway, handrails, Okinawa



For being out in the wilderness, this trail is really well maintained.

Wooden stairs and handrails aren't something you'd expect to find but, they were.

The log steps and handrails are actually made with concrete. They look like wood, huh?




hill, forest, steps, logs, Horohoro, Okinawa



Going up and down the steps along this trail can give you an appetite.

Even though my stomach started growling, I wasn't looking forward to flying fish soup.

Funny thing: We found the spot where it's sold and, I told the guy there, I'd be back for lunch.




forest, trees, woods, trail, Okinawa



Someday, I'll have a Part II for this trail to show you. I want to go back.

According to my calculations, after about 600 meters of hiking, it leads to the sea.




trail, nature, forest, Horohoro, cinnamon, Okinawa


We had to hurry. No sense in standing the birthday girl up, two years in a row.

We got to her office shortly before noon and went across the street.

Not five minutes away was the Every Choice Steak House.


Smooth talkers insisted on buying Yuka a steak dinner. Soup is too cheap!

While waiting for our orders, we mentioned the Horohoro Forest experience.

On my iPhone Google Maps, didn't have the place listed.

Even in Japanese, Yuka couldn't pull it up on my phone. So, I told her I'd add it.




hiking, forest, Okinawa, trail,hill, steps




We learned, "Horohoro" means cinnamon in Okinawan language.

We walked halfway through a cinnamon forest and, I didn't bite one tree!

A few years ago, I had a cinnamon tree encounter and, got to bring a chunk home.

Heck, I eat cinnamon every day and spend my hard-earned money to buy the stuff.

Must Return: Forest of Horohoro


Friday, October 26, 2018

Images from 3 Nights of October 2018 Full Moon

astronomy, moon, Okinawa

Before Sunrise on October 23 2018



The Chinese calendar sometimes places the full moon differently than a Roman calendar.

That was the case this month. I won't argue with the Chinese or Romans either.



astronomy, full-moon, Okinawa, Japan



For this month's full moon photography, the plan was, to catch the moon setting in the West.

Waking up at 2:30 in the morning, I would walk to the beach with the dog and a camera.

By the time I wandered home, the sun would be rising.



astronomy, moon, photography, Okinawa, Japan


Scene at 5:22 AM October 24 2018



Its cool enough in the mornings to wear a light jacket and, the mosquitoes aren't awake, yet.

The moon shines and fades as clouds blow by. 




astronomy, clouds, moon, Okinawa, Japan


My preference would be for clear shots of the moon but, some folks like to see the weather.

It didn't rain and wasn't too windy. Clouds kept drifting in and out of my scenes.






October 25 2018 at 4:52 AM



Clouds and moisture in the air can change the colors captured in the moon.

There are ways to change the color after taking photos but, I leave them natural.

So, what you are seeing is, exactly what I saw, except for cropping and enlarging the scenery.




moonset, water, reflection, mountains,Okinawa



Shortly after 6 AM, this was my parting shot.

Standing on a seawall at Kin Port, I caught the moon reflecting over the bay.

A few minutes later, it would be setting behind the clouds.



Sunday, October 14, 2018

12 Fireworks Photos from the Kyuzo Toyama Matsuri in Kin Town

festival, fireworks, matsuri, Okinawa

Away from Festival Grounds



Kyuzo Toyama is considered the father of Okinawan emigration.

Kin Town is celebrating the 150th year of his birth during this annual festival.

Grounded by doctor's orders and heavily medicated, I didn't attend the matsuri.




festival, fireworks, Kyuzo Toyama, Okinawa



Having been to this festival dozens of times, I came up with a plan. Stay home.

Under orders, to not leave the house, I simply went up on the roof.




fireworks, hanabi, matsuri, Kin Town, Okinawa


Normally, the bursts of fire would appear off to the west of my position.

This year the wind decided to carry the show off towards the north.




hanabi, Japan, matsuri, Okinawa



Having the camera and zoom lens mounted on a sturdy tripod made things simple.

It was easy to swing the contraptions around and capture a few good shots.




fireworks, festival, hanabi, matsuri, Okinawa, Japan


The camera was taken off Auto Focus and, I focus to infinity.

That way the lens won't be continually searching in the dark for fireworks.




fireworks, festival, nightlife, matsuri, Okinawa


Starting things off, I use an exposure of f/11 1/60 ISO 100.

Hanabi can be tricky and you learn to adjust the shutter speed, quickly.

Some photos were exposed 0.3 seconds, others to 1.6 seconds. I go with the flow.




fireworks, festival, nightlife, Okinawa

There are advantages to being up on a roof shooting festival fireworks.

Number One: Nobody can walk in front of the camera and ruin your shot!




hanabi, matsuri, Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan



My method of shooting is, use continuous firing mode or rapid fire.

That means, I hold the shutter button down and fire bursts of 3 or 4 images at a time.

Everyone has their own preferences for fireworks photography. That's mine.

If, you Google "Fireworks Photography" there are probably a dozen other ways of doing it.




fireworks, photography, nightlife, Okinawa


A tripod makes things a lot easier and eliminates camera shake somewhat.

But, I have also steadied the camera resting on a fence, wall, or rock and, done just as well.




festivals, nightlife, Okinawa


An advantage I discovered this time around, to being farther away pleased me.

The wind seemed to clear the smoke surrounding the fireworks, more quickly.

Smoke can ruin some great shots when it clouds-up images.




fireworks, Kin Town, Okinawa



Hanabi, translated to English, would mean, flower fire. What flower is this?

Maybe a dandelion or one of those weeds growing on your lawn?




fireworks, cityscape, Okinawa


Grand Finale



The Mad Moment, when all Hell breaks loose gave me flashbacks.

They must say, "Times up" and load everything they've got in their mortar tubes.

Not very pretty but, this photo shows some buildings silhouetted in the foreground.

I could email you a digital copy for only 5 bucks! 


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Moon Ending a Phase Over Okinawa Japan

astronomy, crescent, moon, Okinawa

Another Phase We're Going Through


This was the first time I plotted and planned on shooting around the New Moon.

Almost every month I get out there for three nights of moon photography.

The weather and cloud conditions were perfect for some New Moon shots.

I narrowed it down, to where I'd get the skinniest shot of the October moon today.

Y'all won't be seeing any New Moon images from me, I hate to inform you.

That's because the New Moon isn't visible from earth even, on a cloudless evening.



Today's Photo Stats



Camera: Pentax K-1

Lens: Sigma 50-500 + 1.4 converter for focal length of 700 MM

Exposure:  f/11   1.6 sec   ISO 100

Location: Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time: OCT 8 2018 at 5:58 AM


More about the moon and its phases - Time and Date




Saturday, October 6, 2018

Smiling Moon Over Okinawa After the Typhoon

crescent, moon, Okinawa, smile


Shortly After 4 AM


All is well on the island of Okinawa and the typhoon that brushed us is long gone.

Over the past week, a few storms hit us and, some folks got upset.

Downed power lines, cars, and buildings taking a beating and fallen trees were everywhere.

Loss of electrical power meant food spoiling, no internet and no way to charge cell phones.

We even had to go without water for a few days; catching what rainwater we could.

Over on Facebook, I saw lots of folks whining and complaining, like it was the end of the world.

Crybabies need to take a look at Indonesia and see what the earthquake and tsunami did.

Then, thank your lucky stars, we are safe, sound, and have a smiling moon up in the sky.


NOTE: It's a few days before the New Moon.

This photo was taken while the moon was at 14% and the image was rotated slightly.

There was no sense showing one of those Dick Cheney crooked smiles.

Don't we have enough things to complain about already?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Testing a Japanese Tea Named Healthya - Gonna Burn Some Fat

green, healthy, tea, Japan

Look for These Bottles



It's a little more expensive than most green teas -160 or more Yen per bottle.

The taste is kind of bitter. One bottle a day is what's recommended.

It's only been about a week since I've started drinking the stuff.


green tea, health, Japan, screenshot

KAO Corporation, the manufacturer has a website for Healthya Green Tea.

It's all in Japanese but Google Chrome will translate (somewhat) for you.

When's a good time to drink this special green tea? I had to take a screenshot.

Drink some at work, when you're chatting or, even when going down!

You don't have to drink it when you exercise but, you should exercise anyhow.



health, Japan, ocha, Japanese, screenshot, tea


Companies in Japan may spend 3 years getting health products endorsed by the government.

So, I know this tea isn't some sort of snake oil. It's approved by scientists.

Apparently, 14 healthy fat people were used in this controlled experiment.

The ones who drank healthy tea lost 140% more fat than the unfortunates.

Not a large selection of the population but, it's hard to find lots of fat people around here.

They should take this tea to the USA, where people aren't so skinny.



Eight Weeks We'll Give It a Try



Not very scientific but, saving lots of money I used to spend on coffee and beer.

The doctors have me monitoring weight, blood pressure and oxygen daily.

So, after two months of drinking this nasty tasting tea, I'll see what happens.

Along with the consumption of tea, exercise and diet are important, too.

Well, I eat lots of salads, exercise like a nut and get plenty of sleep.

If this healthy green tea does anything noticeable for me, I'll let you know before Xmas! 


Read more about healthy green teas:



Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Cloud and Tablets

Weak Typhoon Blowing Outside


The storm named Kong-Rey is keeping most folks indoors today and probably tomorrow.

Okinawa Typhoon Pics & Info is the weather site I like to follow and, you should too.

They are accurate and will get you laughing on the most miserable days.

Being cooped up indoors for a few days at a time can make folks grouchy.

So, I'm always looking for things to share, to brighten up the day for my readers.


cloud, Moses, tablets


This was the funniest thing I've seen all day on the internet and, I wanted to share it.

It doesn't really have anything to do with Okinawa. Except it gave me a good laugh.

When I complained there was no SHARE BUTTON on Facebook, I got a message.

The image was messaged to me by a real angel and, she's here in Okinawa.

The owner of Salty SUP and Kayak sent the photo so, I could share it with you.

That's the kind of things Ryukyu People do; help each other out. 

It's called "yuimaru" by Okinawan's. We all help each other.

If you're living on this island and are interested in Yoga, Fitness or Stand Up Paddle (SUP)

Visit Christine and hookup on one of her Facebook Pages.

Whenever this stormy weather clears, I may go down south and shoot some SUP photos.

It looks like a lot of fun, paddling down rivers or in the ocean.

But, I'll probably stand and shoot from the shore. My beard looks terrible when it's wet!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

15 Harvest Moon Festival Photos

Plus the September 2018  Full Moon


It's not really called a Harvest Moon Festival in Okinawa, Japan.

Kangetsusai is what the festive event is named in this part of the world.

Tropical storms bouncing around the Asian oceans could have cancelled this celebration.


festival, music, night, stage, Okinawa


A few hours ahead of time, I slipped out of the house to get my camera and lenses.

There was a good chance rain would hit on and off over the next few hours.

Accidentally, I left my iPhone at home in the charger so, nobody could contact me.

If it started pouring down rain, the wife would demand I get back in the house. Hah!



festival, Harvest Moon, dancers, royalty, stage, Okinawa


The first few performances on stage went smoothly and things were dry.

You can see the crowd sitting before the stage, watching some sort of royal dances.



dance, formal, kimonos, Okinawa

The way lighting is set up on the stage makes photography challenging.

It's nice to get images of everybody but, zooming in on a few makes things easier.

Usually, I don't intentionally miss anyone, unless they are really ugly.

Just kidding. We can't say stuff like that anymore. Or, can we?



dance, Eisa, festival, moon, Okinawa, outdoors, stage

Look closely at this scene and, you may notice the angle of my camera has changed.

The red lantern in the center of the frame was overhead in my first few photos.

Climbing a flight of stairs, I found a balcony where I could stay dry if it rained.

All the kids doing Eisa had to be photographed so, I wouldn't miss someone special.

My granddaughter is up there dancing. She's not one of the ugly ones.



dance, festival, Okinawa


No expert on the performing arts, I just call these dudes, cupcake dancers.

That's because we aren't supposed to call folks fruitcakes anymore. Hah!



dancers, festival, kimonos, Okinawa


These ladies in green kimonos were easy on the eyes and, the stage was still dry.

People sitting on folding chairs in the audience didn't need umbrellas, yet.



dance. ladies, festival, Okinawa


One of these days I should learn the names of all the classic Okinawa dances.

This is one I've seen them do up north in the woods. Still, don't know what it's called!



culture, dance, kimonos, royalty, Okinawa


The girls with the golden fans are posing in puddles on that wet stage.

A few umbrellas are visible in the audience but, most people ran away.

It started pouring like a typhoon hit us and, I'm glad I was sheltered on that balcony.



Somebody Tried Calling Me


That's when she discovered my phone was home in the charger. LMAO

Somewhere, I read that people who are forgetful are really geniuses. I must be one of them.



dance, festival, kimonos, Okinawa, pink


We'll just call this one "The Pink Ladies with Purple Hats."

Look at the reflections in the puddles on the plywood stage. It could get slippery.



dancers, festival, stage, Okinawa


These youngsters must attend some performing arts school. They are really impressive.

Some traditional Okinawa music is jazzed up and they dance to it.



dance, kimonos, festival, Okinawa


The barefoot red bandana ladies, we'll call this group.

They're singing and dancing to an old Ryukyu tune, not YMCA.



dancers, festival, Okinawa, spears


Call them Real Men Do It with Spears Dudes.

They're barefoot in the puddles. I'm happy on my balcony, where it's dry.



dancers, festival, children, rain, Okinawa, stage


Guys with white shoes and flowery hats are dancing in the plywood puddles.

The rain has stopped and, children are gathering in front of the stage.



children, festival, Miruku, candy, Okinawa

This character called Miruku gets on stage and children go wild.

Miruku will toss candies throughout the crowd. 

Notice the silhouettes of children with arms outstretched reaching to catch flying candies.



children, festival, Okinawa, shishimai

The grand finale is the Shishimai and his handler.

The creature is activated by two youngsters under that hairy lion's body.

After four hours of composing festival photos and dodging rain, I decided to leave early.

The moon never did stay clear of rain clouds, long enough to be photographed.



Harvest Moon, full-moon, Okinawa, September 2018


Walking home with the camera and tripod, the rain poured down again.

Just as I entered the gate at home, I noticed the moon peeking through the clouds.

It's not my favorite moon shot but, it's probably the only one I'll get this month!