Monday, August 27, 2018

Suzume (スズメ) the Tree Sparrow Doing Pizza Crust

Feathered Friends Don't Go Hungry

Not out in the wilderness chasing wildlife, I've spent plenty of time at home this summer.

It's so hot and humid no one wanders far from air conditioning for more than a few minutes.

A place called Gate 1 (ゲートワン) nearby, serves various types of pizza.

birds, GIF, Passer montanus, Okinawa, pizza

When I get the urge to eat some pizza, it's worth a few minutes walking in the hot sun.

A pizza takes them about 20 minutes, to bake and box up for customers.

I don't mind sitting in their air-conditioned waiting area waiting for my order.

A large pizza is enough for two meals, around this house and nothing goes to waste.

At Gate #2, to my residence, a flock of these Tree Sparrows congregates.

Leftover pizza crust and bread crumbs are provided for the birds, daily.

When I have 700 MM of a lens, the camera, and tripod handy, I shoot them.

Soon things should start cooling off on this island and, I'll get back to hiking in nature.

What do you do with pizza crust in your neck of the woods?

Summer 2018 - Final Full Moon

This Hot Summer Will End Soon

All my furry friends should stop complaining about the hottest summer on record.

Next month, it could get even warmer for all we know.

For sure, about the third week, it won't be summer anymore.

astronomy, moon, summer, Okinawa

In the wee hours of the morning, I went out to check on the moon.

Surprisingly no rain came pouring down so, I decided to attempt moonset photography.

Here's what I saw at 4:46 AM.

astronomy, moon, Okinawa, summer

As long as the weather kept cooperating I would keep walking and shooting.

The plan was to get closer to the ocean for moonset and catch the light over water.

It's 5:01 AM and the ocean isn't visible yet. I walk slowly in the dark.

astronomy, moon, ocean, Okinawa

At 5:20 AM  the sea is visible below me but, I wait for the moon to get lower.

The first three images were taken at a focal length of 700 MM.

Get Ready Furry Ones

We're standing on level ground, several meters above sea level, using a tripod.

Below lies Red Beach Pier with Ishikawa (Uruma) in the background.

Here's my final full moon photo for the summer of 2018.

It's 5:36 n the morning and I've been awake for 3 hours. Go home and get breakfast.

My furry friends should quit complaining or, do like I did once. Shave!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

August 2018 Full Moon - End of Okinawa Obon

astronomy, culture,full moon, Obon, Okinawa

Moonlight for Ancestral Spirits Journey 

Okinawa's Obon season is planned around events of the Lunar calendar. 

It is believed the full moon is the best time for departed spirits to return to the heavens.

Eisa bands played in the distance when I noticed the moon appear from behind clouds.

My camera was equipped with a 15-30 MM lens as I planned festival photography.

The odds of seeing the moon, during this stormy period, were not good.

That helped me make the decision to hike and get a longer lens.

Walking quickly to the office, I kept my eye on the clouds and moon.

A big lens and tripod would be required to take this shot.

At 7:50 PM, in front of my office, I peered through 700 MM of a lens and snapped this photo.

Then, swapped the lens for a 15-30 MM and went searching for Eisa.

Far in the distance, a few times, I heard the drums but, wasn't going to walk far.

Occasional rain showers kept me ducking in and out of doorways.

By midnight I gave up and headed home. Eisa drums could be heard in the distance.

As late as 1 PM they were dancing out there somewhere. I got my moon shot.

I was glad. I went to bed.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Obon Eisa in Kin Town

Welcoming the Spirits

Young Eisa dancers, drummers, and sanshin players are busy, day and night during Obon.

A few photos were taken of the first night's activities, greeting the ancestors.

Photographers get busy during this season as well. So, I'm sorta in a rush.

Eisa, Jin Jin, King Tacos, Obon, Okinawa

Shortly after 9 PM, the drumbeats, chants, and music filled the air in Kin Town.

Some people may recognize the landmarks in this photo.

The new King Tacos is a popular fast food joint with locals and tourists.

Just a bit further down the street is the Japanese restaurant Jin Jin.

culture, dance, Eisa, Obon, Okinawa

Photography at night can be a real challenge, shooting the Eisa groups.

Trucks with bright floodlights illuminate the dancers, from both ends of the street.

This group only had one truck, lighting up the dancers.

The only way to capture them was to move down the street past the Jin Jin.

culture, dance, Eisa, Okinawa, nighttime

It was shortly past 9:30 PM when this Eisa team showed up.

Actually, I was headed downhill towards home and, I'm glad I decided to return.

Bright lights from only one end of the road, made shooting a bit easier.

culture, festival, Eisa, Obon, Okinawa

Trying to catch the light in that girl's eyes, I must have taken 100 photos.

We'll save a few of them in case she'd like a print. I don't know who she is.

But, this is a small town so, somebody will come along and educate me.

dance, festival, Eisa, Obon, Okinawa

Tropical storms have been blowing by the island lately and dropping scattered rain.

So, any chance to see these performers and photograph them is precious.

Eisa, dance, drummer, Kin Town, Okinawa

It was almost 10 PM and I was on the backroads heading home when I saw this.

Right outside the driveway to my house, the first Eisa team showed up again.

Weather permitting, after tonight's Eisa photography there's one more event.

The full moon signals the end of Obon festivities and ancestors return to the heavens.

So, I plan on going out there with some long lenses, to see what I can catch!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Yonabaru Railroad Station Museum

In Days of Old

Before the Yui-rail was invented or, even dreamed of, a railroad once existed on Okinawa.

The original Yonabaru Station is a museum nowadays, dedicated to the original train line.

Friday's camera excursion led us to this attraction.

attraction, museum, travel, trains, Okinawa, history

Some research had led us to believe photography was forbidden.

We planned on making a quick visit, snapping a few outdoor photos and checking it out.

A staff member was at the door, watching us snap photos of the exterior.

Using some sign language (Pointing at the camera and flashing OK?) paid off.

She signaled, "Cameras OK" and that got us indoors with smiles.

art, picture, rail, station, Yonabaru, 1914, museum, photo

This frame on the wall shows the Yonabaru Station as it appeared in 1914.

Yonabaru had a busy shipping port. The rail line transported goods and people to Naha.

history, museum, railroad, train, photo, Okinawa, Yonabaru

An old black and white photo shows the train at the station in the year 1920.

The museum sells trinkets, souvenirs, t-shirts and whatever but not much in English.

It would have been worth my while, to purchase a history of this train.

conductors, history, museum train, uniforms, Yonabaru, Okinawa

Here's a 1943 photo of the railroad staff posing by the train.

Much more cargo and passengers could be hauled on that line than, today's 2 car trains.

War in the Pacific

Before the Battle of Okinawa started in 1945, the Typhoon of Steel softened things up.

It was the end of the line for this railroad and the Yonabaru Station.

history, train, war, destruction

Much of the southern parts of Okinawa were destroyed during the battle.

Iron was scarce and scavenged for other needs so, the railroad was never restored.

It's a shame, the governments of Japan and the USA didn't restore the railroads of Okinawa.

Now, it seems the 2 car monorail, packed with tourists, is the wave of the future.

On the Bright Side

The museum has free parking for five automobiles.

The building is climate controlled so, it's cool in summer and warm during winter.

Entrance fees are less than it costs to buy a cup of coffee.

Chisato, woman, staff, museum, Yonabaru, Okinawa

Special thanks to Chisato the museum worker for an enjoyable visit.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Day Trip to Naha: This Was a Hoot

Not Wild About City Life

Far away from the populated areas is where I'm usually most comfortable.

But, it gets so hot and humid here during August, I won't even go to the beach.

Blue skies would have tempted me but, Wednesday it was hot and hazy

It was one of those days, outdoor photography wasn't going to happen.

birds, nature, Okinawa, Owl, travel

Indoor Owl Adventure

A week earlier, I had seen this attraction and brought home some literature about it.

Doc and I were trying to decide, where would be a good place to go on a hot summer day.

The Owl Adventure Park in Naha City might have a comfortable environment.

alley, animals, birds, Okinawa, animals, zoo

Miniature Zoo in Shopping District

This is really an unlikely spot to find a little jungle/zoo. It required some investigation.

They call it an animal kingdom and, it's stuffed on the second floor of this tiny shop.

It's easy to get lost in the alleyways so, Google Maps is the best guide, to use.

list, prices,plans, Okinawa, Owls

Ticket Information

Not knowing what we'd be getting in to, the Standard Plan seemed reasonable.

The equivalent of $10.00 to $15.00 to enter a second story room or two, wasn't our style.

Who wants to pay that much to enter a room containing wild animals and children?

Wise old dudes, we went with 880 Yen and, promised to act like adults.

At the top of the stairs, we paid for tickets and the manager gave us hand sterilizer.

They don't need someone bringing strange viruses into the bird's environment.

birds, family, Owls, gloves

Family Friendly

Staff members assist with the handling of birds and show you how to hold them.

This family was happy to pose for my camera. They had paid full price, to hold the owls.

Taking your own photos is permitted but, no flash may be used.

Notice the gloved hands, where birds perch, grasping with their little yellow feet.

A staff member showed visitors, how gently a bird pecks at your hands and, won't harm you.

She was observed helping customers take smartphone photos, as well.

Viewing Birds on the Cheap Ticket

birds, owl, Naha, Okinawa

Nature and wildlife photography are favorites of mine. Captive animals make me groan.

A few times in my life, I've been caged. Nobody really needs to know why. Alright?

To catch the bird's eyes requires some talking, clucking and rapid-fire shooting.

animals, birds, owl,photography, Okinawa, zoo

The owls you see may not be native to this country. They're from around the globe.

They seem somewhat domesticated and used to being around humans.

They are well fed and even, get every other day off, away from the public.

The jungle, surrounding them, is mostly plastic-covered chain link fence.

birds, captive, owls, Okinawa, tethered

When not tethered to a glove being held by a human, the owls are leashed to stands.

Sometimes, they remain so still, you'd think they were statues.

Try and focus, to take a photo and, they may move their head faster than lightning.

It's probably alright, to hold some species of animals in confinement, to educate the public.

I'd much rather see the birds in a larger enclosure where they could fly.

A more natural setting would give them some fresh air and live vegetation, to live in.

girl, bird, owl, animals, staff, employee, Okinawa, Naha

The Owl Lady

This was the golden-haired gal we met, going through the plastic jungle with our cameras.

She caught me tapping an owl on the head, to get its attention. Damn thing was fake.

Well, I had already figured that out. Next, we tried communicating.

Between my broken Japanese and her limited English, we did fine, I guess.

They sell tourist items, souvenirs like clocks, T-shirts, and dolls.

So, winding down the tour, I bought some owl dolls for granddaughters.

Ayame, the Owl Lady posed for me and, I told her we'd be back someday.

Maybe, I'll do a family-type visit with grandchildren one of these days.

Before we departed, she gave us some little owl charms, for free!

The attraction gets a Five Star Review from me, I enjoyed it more than, I had imagined.

What Could Make It Even Better?

Just a suggestion, I'd make and, they don't have to take my advice, to keep that rating.

It would be worth Twenty bucks or, 2000 Yen to go visit the owls enjoying their day off.

If they are in a room or enclosure, where they can fly around that would be awesome.

Supposing a guy could throw some live mice or rats, for the owls to swoop down and devour.

Wouldn't that be the ultimate Owl Adventure?

Stripes Okinawa: Owls Adventure Park

Monday, August 6, 2018

Caterpillar (キャタピラ) and Some Ninja Stuff

World Leader Manufacturing Construction Equipment

The bright yellow CAT monsters are recognized around the globe as Caterpillar.

This one was spotted, early this morning, in a pit, about 20 feet below the road I walked on.

Caterpillar, construction, equipment, Okinawa

It was still dark outside as I passed this scene on the way to my office.

The photo would have to wait and be taken on the return trip after some weight training.

Today was going to be a rowing-machine-day with 30 kilos of weights.

A 9:30 AM dental appointment was reason enough for me to be in a hurry.

A Little Ninja Training

Construction sites are usually roped or fenced off, to keep outsiders from getting hurt.

Somewhere, I read, people over 40 years of age need to do things to stay in shape.

One of the exercises I like to do consists of walking on something requiring balance.

Picture someone on a balance beam or skillfully maneuvering along the distance of a log.

Well, I skillfully take about 200 steps on some objects in construction sites.

That's where Ninja Training comes in; I just made it up. I'm over 40; that's true.

The sun was shining by the time I finished my workout with weights.

Going home, I snapped the CAT photo at 6:38 and continued to another construction area.

There was no need to jump over the roped-off part. I just went around.

200 steps of balancing were done on the way to the office. I could double that going home.

It's a little tricky, balancing yourself when it's dark outside. In sunshine, it should be easy.

At night, streetlights and passing vehicles, tend to throw shadows.

It makes balancing a bit more difficult. I might slip and fall at 20 or 67 steps.

Early this morning, not a step went wrong. Swiftly and silently, I scampered across the beam.

On the return trip, I guess I became overconfident and added a few steps.

200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, whoops, off the balance beam I went!

The back and shoulders are a little sore from rowing exercises; that's to be expected.

The trip off of the blocks for balance wasn't all that far of a distance. Not a 4ft. wall.

The 4 inch wide blocks I was scampering along, only stand about 4 inches off the ground.

Still, I'm glad no one was out there watching. I landed belly up in a pile of dirt and stones.

Sorta like a turtle turned over on it's back, I laughed and struggled to get myself upright. 

The wife was awake when I got ready to leave in the morning.

 She knew I had a dental appointment. She makes sure I shower and smell good.

Now, she'll be wondering what possessed me to take another shower and change clothes.

My ass hurts but, I'll tell her, "Secret, it's Ninja Stuff we can't discuss."