All posts filed under: Japan

2018 Highlights

The biggest event of 2018 was on February 12th when Jasmine Victoria Willson was born. Over the last 10 months she’s grown to be a delightful little toddler who is excited by all her adventures. Life now revolves around bananas, Igglepiggle, and bath time. I’ve been shooting a wide range of imagery, along with producing some videos for SKYLUM software. The Karate Masters Portrait Project continued, and expanded to start a new video documentary series about the amazing martial arts sensei on Okinawa. 2019 will begin with some exciting news about the series. At the start of the year I was out photographing the humpback whales while creating a video for SKYLUM, then at the end of the year I was recording the TEDxOIST lecture series with a team of videographers. One of the speakers was my good friend Nozomi Kobayashi who talked about her job monitoring the migrating whales. In the spring I updated the Okinawa and Kyushu chapters for the next edition of Fodor’s Japan. Jasmine had her first trip down to Miyako …

Yoshitsune Senaga 10th dan Uechi Ryu Karate Do Kenseikai

On November 30th, I had the honor to photograph and shoot some video of Yoshitsune Senaga, 10th dan Uechi ryu karate at his dojo in Tomigusku, Okinawa. He is the 82nd sensei to be photographed for the Karate Masters Portrait Project. 81 year old Senaga sensei also studies kobudo, and was willing to show us his techniques with the sai.   Interestingly he showed how the pair of sai that he used would ring like tuning forks when hit.  He explained that this was because these sai were made from metal that was once used in a temple bell in Nara. After taking portraits for the project, I recorded a quick interview with Senaga sensei, then finally we got some selfies of the group, and little Jasmine once again stole the show.  The video, the second in the series we are working on, will be translated and hopefully appear online in the coming weeks.  This is an exciting new addition to the project, and we are currently thinking about how we can take this video …

100 Kata for Karate Day 2018

100 Kata for Karate Day 2018 took place on October 25th beside the Naminoue Shrine in Naha City, Okinawa. Matsuda sensei and Arakaki sensei were the masters that welcomed the attendees to the event. The event was organized by my good friend James Pankiewicz of the Dojo Bar and Asato Dojo. Great to see so many people taking part at the Okinawa event, and also across the world. The 100 Kata for Karate Day has become a rigorous annual challenge for many karateka. Arakaki sensei and Matsuda sensei, are both in fine health at 75 and 80 years old.  Matsuda sensei told me he’d just been to the Namie Amuro farewell concert as he’d been her karate teacher many years ago.   (For those who are unaware, Namie Amuro is Japan’s Beyonce.) Congratulations again to all those who took part.

World’s Largest Tug of War 2018

The world’s largest tug-of-war took place today in Naha City, Okinawa.  Two ropes weighing 20 tonnes were tied together to make the record-breaking 40-tonne behemoth. Around 270,000 people came to the city to watch or take part in the event. After karate demonstrations by several masters including Koyu Higa and Ippei Yagi (who are featured in the karate masters portrait project), the kings of East and West were carried along the length of the ropes. There were a lot of gongs, firecrackers, and whistles, then the contest began. Congratulations to the East for their victory. A great day, with a friendly international atmosphere. Thank you to the American Chamber of Commerce for having me as part of your team. Video coming soon.

Jasmine at 6 months.

August 12th is Jasmine’s 6-month birthday. She’s got a lot bigger, her head isn’t cone shaped, and she loves to laugh. She’s used to meeting a lot of different people, and is quite happy being held by family, friends, and complete strangers. She travelled with us all around Kyushu and Okinawa while we updated the Fodor’s Japan guidebook, and has been at various workshops and photo shoots. I hadn’t really considered how much joy and vitality young children bring to a neighborhood.  It makes you realize how tough it must be in rural communities where  young families leave for the cities, the schools close, and the majority of the remaining population is elderly.  As Japan deals with an aging population and a low birthrate it will be interesting to see what policies are enacted to nudge people to have babies, or to increase immigration.

Turtle Beach

First dive of the year. Great to be back in the water again, and the long surface swim out from the beach with a big camera was a well needed workout. Plenty of interesting creatures. A pair of Risbecia tryoni, chromodorid nudibranchs. White-eyed Moray, Gymnothorax thyrsoideus Whitemouth moray, Gymnothoraz melegaris Plenty of clownfish hiding in their anemones. These included the false clown anemonefish (aka clown anemonefish) Amphiprion ocellaris, and the Pink anemonefish, Amphiprion perideraion.  The dive spot also lived up to its name as we came across a turtle.  It was a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) with several common remora (Remora remora) attached to its shell. It was resting in a bowl in the coral when we found it, then after a while headed up toward the surface. Overall a fantastic couple of dives. Really have to get out more often. Huge thank you to Hiroshi for getting me back in the water. All images shot with the Pentax K5IIs in an Ikelite housing with Ikelite 161 strobes.

Yasuhiro Uema, 9th dan Shorin-ryu Karate

Yasuhiro Uema, 9th dan Shorin-ryu Karate. The 78th sensei to be photographed for the Karate Masters Portrait Project. Shot before his dojo’s seminar at the Karate Kaikan in Okinawa on July 27th 2018. Thanks to Kenny Ueda of Ageshio Japan who organized the seminar and help set up the portrait session with Uema sensei. Born in 1945, Uema sensei is another example of karate keeping Okinawans flexible and strong even as they age.

Dell Hamby 6th dan Uechi-ryu Karate 6th dan Ryukyu Kobudo Shimbukan

Dell Hamby is the 77th Karate Master to be photographed for the Karate Masters Portrait Project. He is 6th dan Uechi-ryu Karate and 6th dan Ryukyu Kobudo Shimbukan. Originally from Switzerland, he now lives, teaches and trains in Okinawa. He studies Uechi-ryu under Yoshitsune Senaga (who we will be photographing in the coming weeks) and Ryukyu Kobudo under Hiroshi Akamine.  He was one of four masters who took part in the Okinawa World Tournament Promotion Tour earlier in the year, and  is one of the kobudo judges when the tournament is held next week. It was a pleasure to photograph Dell, a real gentleman and a great ambassador for Okinawan karate. The project has been on hold for the past year as we welcomed Jasmine to our family, but as things settle down we’ve been able to start things up again.  My goal is to release the second volume in the series in time for the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2020. All images taken with the Pentax 645Z and the 90mm lens. Lighting from …