Latest Posts

Naonobu Ahagon receives Okinawa Prefecture Cultural Merit Award

Naonobu Ahagon, Hanshi 10th Dan, Okinawa Karate & Kobudo Shorinryu at his dojo in Naha City, Okinawa.
Naonobu Ahagon, Hanshi 10th Dan, Okinawa Karate & Kobudo Shorinryu at his dojo in Naha City, Okinawa.
Naonobu Ahagon, Hanshi 10th Dan, Okinawa Karate & Kobudo Shorinryu at his dojo in Naha City, Okinawa.
Naonobu Ahagon, Hanshi 10th Dan, Okinawa Karate & Kobudo Shorinryu at his dojo in Naha City, Okinawa.

Today, Naonobu Ahagon, Hanshi 10th Dan, Okinawa Karate & Kobudo Shorinryu, received the Okinawa Prefecture Cultural Merit Award.

I photographed him on April 25th 2014 for the Karate Masters Portrait Project at his dojo in Naha City.

Kadena Gift Corner Print Sale

On Saturday 30th November I will be holding a special print sale at the Kadena Gift Corner. I’ll be selling a wide range of photographs from Okinawa and mainland Japan, all printed on archival cotton rag paper with archival pigment inks. Prints range in size from A4 (8″x11″) to A2 (16″x23″) and in price from $60 to $240.

I’ll be at the Kadena Gift Corner from 10AM to 3PM only on the 30th November 2019, but a smaller selection of prints are available to purchase from the Kadena Gift Shop when I am not there.

Stop by for a chat, and maybe grab something for your wall!

2020 Workshops

Last weekend was the final photography workshop of 2019. It’s a real pleasure to share my passion with others and a delight that Jasmine gets to join us on our adventures.

There are going to be a limited number of workshops in 2020 due to competing work on the Karate Masters Portrait Project, the karate video series, the 2020 Olympics, and a trip to the UK.  There will be two Fundamentals Workshops at the start of the year, and another couple yet to be scheduled in the fall.

Come join the fun in 2020. Click on the links below to the Facebook event pages.

January 11th & 12th Photography Fundamentals with Chris Willson

February 8th & 9th Photography Fundamentals with Chris Willson

Sensei Kenyu Chinen at the Yomitan Dojo

Last Monday I had the opportunity to take some pics of Chinen Sensei in his organization’s Yomitan Dojo which is located inside Murasaki Mura. A beautiful location to get a few new portraits of an Okinawan master.

Kenyu Chinen 9th-dan World Oshukai Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate Do Kobudo Federation Photographed at the Yomitan Dojo 4th November 2019
Kenyu Chinen 9th-dan World Oshukai Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate Do Kobudo Federation with his student Kohei Oshiro. Photographed at the Yomitan Dojo 4th November 2019

Images shot with the Pentax 645Z and the 55mm lens. A Profoto B1 strobe with a OCF softbox was used for off camera flash to balance the interior of the dojo with the outdoors.

Video shot with the Sony FS5, Atomos Shogun and Rokinon cine lenses.

Shuri Castle Destroyed by Fire

 At approximately 2:30 a.m. on Thursday 31st October 2019 a fire started inside Okinawa’s Shuri Castle which destroyed the main hall and several adjoining buildings.

Now, one week later, the Governor of Okinawa and the Prime Minister of Japan have both promised that it shall be rebuilt. The challenges of doing so, and the timeline are not yet clear, but I look forward to it rising once again from the ashes of destruction.

Below are a few pics of Shuri Castle taken over the last 19 years. Most were taken at the New Year Festival or the Shuri Castle Festival which they were preparing for when the fire broke out.

The highlight of October’s Shuri Castle Festival is a lavish recreation of the 1800 Sappou Coronation, which formalized the Chinese Emperor’s recognition of the Ryukyu King. This was particularly important for the islanders as it gave them both protection and the right to trade with China.
Stone Dragon Head Pillar at Shuri Castle, Okinawa, japan
Shuri Castle, Okinawa, Japan
On each of the first three days of the year, a New Year Ceremony is held in the courtyard followed by performances of Ryukyu Dance. The most popular of these classical dances is Yotsudake where the women dress in bright bingata costumes of yellow and red, and don the hanagasa head-dress.
Traditional Okinawan kimonos in the courtyard
A local woman and man are chosen to play the parts of the Ryukyu King and Queen at the ceremony.
Shuri Castle New Year Ceremony
Stone Shisa at Shuri Castle Okinawa
Shuri Castle, Okinawa, japan
October 25th, Karate Day 2013 at Shuri Castle. 
Meitetsu Yagi, Zenpo Shimabukuro, Koei Teruya, Minoru Higa
Seikichi Iha Sensei’s students assemble in August 2019
Shuri Castle August 2019
New Year Festival

100 Kata for Karate Day 2019

October 25th is Karate Day in Okinawa. There was a ceremony at the Karate Kaikan in the morning where 6 masters performed a kata, and in the evening there was the 100 Kata for Karate Day event organized by James Pankiewicz of the Asato Dojo and the Dojo Bar.

100 Kata for Karate Day 2019

This year the event took place in Matsuyama Park, one of the key spots for Okinawa karate. The kids started at 5pm and were joined by the adults at 6pm. Great job everyone. Here are some pics of the awesome kids going for their century.

100 Kata for Karate Day 2019
100 Kata for Karate Day 2019
100 Kata for Karate Day 2019

Video of the festivities on Karate Day and on Kokusai Street on the following Sunday coming soon….

Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate #6 Kenyu Chinen

In this sixth episode in the series, karate and kobudo master Kenyu Chinen talks about his life in Okinawa and France, his own sensei, and his philosophy on martial arts. We are also invited into one of his seminars, and even his Okinawan home to see how he teaches and trains. 

Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate is a crowd-funded YouTube documentary series about the legendary martial arts teachers of Okinawa, Japan. A huge thanks to Chinen Sensei and his students, plus all the volunteers, sponsors and supporters of the series. Couldn’t have done this without you.

Mr. Benn Redux

For those of you who are not British, and in their forties or fifties, Mr. Benn is a beloved cartoon about an ordinary man who goes on extraordinary adventures when he visits a fancy dress shop.

This weekend Mr. Young came to my studio, and as if by magic a photographer appeared…

With each costume change Mr. Young transformed into a new character. The question is, which is the real Mr. Young?

Is he the tech entrepreneur who created an encryption protocol making him a millionaire before his 18th birthday?

Mr. Young?

Is he the fisherman who works on the same boat as his grandfather, while dealing with rough seas and dwindling catches?

Mr. Young?

Is he the doctor who pioneered the use of augmented reality for use in both general medicine and surgery?

Dr. Young?

Is he the Marine who’s traveled the world as one of “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”?

Mr. Young?

Or is he the professional wrestler whose athleticism allows him to dominate when down on the mat or flying through the air?

Mr. Young?

Send your answers on a postcard to 52 Festive Road.

And to Mr. Young I wish you all the best with your future adventures!

Kiichi Nakamoto 10th-dan Goju-ryu Karate / 10th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu

Born in 1927 Kiichi Nakamoto 10th-dan Goju-ryu Karate / 10th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu is one of the elder statesmen even among the karate masters.

Kiichi Nakamoto 10th-dan Goju-ryu Karate / 10th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu

At a young age Nakamoto Sensei studied karate under Chojun Miyagi Sensei then later under Eiichi Miyazato Sensei.

Kiichi Nakamoto 10th-dan Goju-ryu Karate / 10th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu
Kiichi Nakamoto 10th-dan Goju-ryu Karate / 10th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu

Nakamoto Sensei studied kobudo under Shosei Kina Sensei, then Shinei Kyan Sensei. He now hold the rank of 10th-dan.

Kiichi Nakamoto 10th-dan Goju-ryu Karate / 10th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu
Kiichi Nakamoto 10th-dan Goju-ryu Karate / 10th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu
Kiichi Nakamoto 10th-dan Goju-ryu Karate / 10th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu

Hopefully in the future I will be able to interview Nakamoto Sensei and receive more information about his life in martial arts.

Can you help?

It is clear from the numbers of views and viral sharing that thousands of people (maybe hundreds of thousands ) around the world really value the images and interviews from the Karate Masters Portrait Project and the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate Video Series.

The video series in particular takes up a massive amount of time, gear, and data storage.

Shooting long interviews in 4K, Pro Res & Pro Res Raw, and multiple cameras uses a lot of data. After publishing the data to YouTube I could go back and delete the original files, but in a couple of years or a couple of decades, maybe the karate community will want to see the entire unedited footage, or want to a different edit or grade of the footage. So I need to get more hard drives like the one below now my current 24TB drive and 20TB back up are full.

At the same time I keep wanting to improve the production values with more professional gear to improve audio, lighting or camera movements.

Here’s where you can help. More supporters and sponsors make producing content easier. You can find out more information about how to do this here:

https://travel67.com/the-karate-masters-portrait-project/sensei-documentary/

I’ve tried to make enquiries with the Okinawan Prefectural Government, the Karate Promotions Division, the Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau, and local businesses, but they all seem to be focused on their own projects and so far can’t offer any assistance. Which means that for now the projects rely on self-funding and crowd-funding from the international community.

If you’d like to help your name, dojo or organization will be in the credits of the video series, and I’d really appreciate it.

With this blog post written, I’ll get back to final edits of video #6 with Kenyu Chinen, mid point edits of a bonus video with Arcenino J. Advincula, initial file sorting of the footage from video #7 with Seikichi Iha sensei, preparation for next week’s interview for video #8 with Tsuguo Sakumoto, and setting up interviews #9, #10, #11 and #12.

Information on how to help can be found here:

https://travel67.com/the-karate-masters-portrait-project/sensei-documentary/