All posts filed under: Japan

GubGub’s Vegan Kitchen

GubGub’s Vegan Kitchen makes some of the tastiest food on Okinawa. Great food, that just happens to not have any animals in it. My favorite is the cheeseburger, but the pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and the famous teriyaki burger are all excellent. The restaurant is also home to many rescue cats, so it is pretty much a vegan cat cafe.  If you don’t like cats, or have allergies then check out one of the other great vegan / vegetarian options on the island including Niceness (Nago), Niffera (Naha), Ukishima Garden (Naha), Green Leaf (Yomitan), Esparza’s (Chatan), and Bollywood (American Village). The rescue cats at GubGub’s are also looking for homes so if you need a kitten you know where to go!

Solutions for Beach Trash in Okinawa

Ocean trash is a global problem. A massive amount of marine debris floats in the sea, and some of it washes up on Okinawa’s beaches.  Other trash is left by beachgoers, and some items are dumped to avoid recycling fees. Okinawa is not unique in having trash on some of its beaches, but Okinawa’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism. Beach trash doesn’t just affect the beauty of the islands and the quality of life for residents, it can also damage the foundations of Okinawa’s tourism industry. Okinawa is a fantastic place to visit. Discover local culture at World Heritage sites, pottery  workshops, and karate dojos. Learn about the wartime “Typhoon of Steel” and Okinawa’s ongoing mission for peace. Experience culinary delights such as goya champuru and umibudo sea grapes, and wash them down with shikuwasa juice or Orion Beer. This is all combined with excellent levels of service, organization, and personal safety. Above all, Okinawa is promoted as a subtropical paradise in which to relax.  Escape the Tokyo metropolis or the neon glare of …

LASIK Update

I never got around to posting an update on the 4th anniversary of my LASIK operation, but now that things are calming down I can post a 4 year 6 month update. Click here for a summary of my previous posts about LASIK (laser eye surgery)  Quick update: Eyes are great, still have the vision of a hawk. Longer update: The advantages of having had LASIK and not having to deal with glasses and contact lenses have been magnified by the arrival of our daughter Jasmine. Having a baby is fantastic.  It also means you have less time, less sleep, more colds, and more responsibilities. So glad I don’t have to mess around finding glasses in the middle of the night, or dealing with contact lenses and poopy diapers while half-asleep. The issue of less sleep and more colds is important.  Usually, my eyes didn’t get irritated by contact lenses, but if I was overly tired or getting sick, I would get sore red eyes, and I’d be forced to switch from contact lenses to …

Now on YouTube!

In 2016, I was contacted by the team at Macphun Software who had come across my photography on the web. Macphun produces photo editing programs for Mac computers, and received Best of the Year awards from the Apple app store six years running. They were producing new inspirational content for their website and asked if I’d like to be involved. James Pankiewicz, Patrick Batac and I produced a behind the scenes video about The Karate Masters Portrait Project. In 2018, Macphun became SKYLUM software as it is no longer just Mac only. As its popularity grows around the world, Yuki and I are going to help introduce the software to the Japanese market. We’ve created a Japanese language YouTube series called the Shoshinsha Photographer Yuki (New Photographer Yuki) in which Yuki learns how to take photos, and edit the pictures with SKYLUM’s Luminar editing software. Episode 1 has a brief introduction then Yuki explores Bise Village in Motobu. Episode 2 is all about the 100 Kata for Karate Day event at new Karate Kaikan. Episode …

It’s a girl!

Yuki started going into labor at around 6pm on Saturday the 10th of February. We called the maternity clinic and drove from Motobu to Nago City. At the clinic they confirmed Yuki was in labor, but that it was going very slowly. The whole of Sunday was spent in bed with the contractions getting stronger. At around midnight Yuki was moved to the birthing room in the clinic. Yuki was attached to monitors,  but the birth wasn’t due for several more hours. At around 3.15AM things got very busy. The heart rate of the baby  suddenly dropped from around 130 to 60 bpm. The doctor made the decision to get the baby out right away and at 3.36AM on February 12th 2018  Jasmine Victoria Willson was born. She was weighed (2868 grams), and measured (47.2cm). She was checked and cleaned. Monitored, and then given to Yuki. Unten-sensei was able to explain to me what happened at the birth. The low heart rate was a sign of foetal distress, so he immediately delivered the baby by …

Chris Willson Photography 2017 Highlights

2017 has been another busy year. So many things to mention…. Photography workshops have been a success, and it’s been great sharing my passion (and terrible jokes) with so many other people, whether its learning the fundamentals, or dressing up as rockstars in the studio. We had an amazing 1-week workshop in Kyoto with six lovely ladies, and a combination of planning and a little luck meant we got to photograph maiko, cherry blossom, shrines, temples, castles, bullet trains, and blue skies over the week. Yuki started taking kimono classes before the workshop so she could be our subject for staged shots, and there were plenty of opportunities for fortuitous street photographs.  (We’re planning the next Kyoto Workshop for April 2019.) A huge thank you to clients who have booked me for sessions. It has been a pleasure shooting commercial portraits, families, fairy tales, and senior portraits. We’ve shot several events including the USO Service Salute, the Warrior’s Ball, and karate seminars. We’ve also worked on assignment with international clients including NBC, Cinq Mondes, and Forbes. …

Naha Giant Tug of War – Oct 8th 2017

This afternoon the world’s biggest tug of war will take place on Route 58 in Naha City, Okinawa.  I’ll be missing it this year as I’m selling prints at the Holiday Bazaar on Camp Foster, but it’s a great thing to see if you’re in Okinawa today. (You can also drop by the bazaar!) There are parades on Kokusai Street before the main event, which starts at around 2.45pm with the ceremony, then bringing the ropes together at 3.30 and the actual tug of war happens around 4pm  (Please confirm times for 2017 yourself!). Here are a few pictures from previous years.  

Shy Guy

Nemos a.k.a. false clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) are surprisingly brave, if not aggressive. They’ll come out of their anemone and try to intimidate larger fish or scuba divers. The pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) is far more shy. It is quite happy to stay hidden among the tentacles of an anemone and wait until the danger has past. This little fish has made home in a sebae anemone (Heteractis crispa). Seen at Horseshoe reef near Cape Manza, Okinawa, Japan.

Karate Masters Archive Project

The Karate Masters Portrait Project began on March 11, 2012 with a photo session of Yoshitaka Taira sensei and Toshimitsu Arakaki sensei. Five and a half years later, James and I are starting a parallel project to interview these masters and try to create an archive of their teachings. Once again we began with Toshimitsu Arakaki sensei, and look forward to learning a great deal over the coming years. Video offers a whole new set of challenges both technical and financial. As with the Karate Masters Portrait Project we’re striving for quality, as hopefully the content we produce will be of interest both now and in the future. The basic look of the interview is similar to the portraits with a simple black background. For portraits we used a single strobe with a beauty dish, for video we’re using a CAME-TV C700D Daylight LED Edge Light as the keylight on the face and a CAME-TV Boltzen as a rim light on the subject’s right. Here’s a test shot with me looking sleepy. The lights are …

Bull Wrestling

The Motobu Kanko Bunka Festa took place the evening after the Expo Fireworks festival. There were a few hundred rather than tens of thousands of spectators, and the entertainment was far more traditional . There was a karate demonstration by Kiyoshi Yogi, followed by some goat wrestling, folk singing, and then bull wrestling. There were five bouts of bull wrestling. The bulls locked horns, and then pushed until one of them gave up and turned away. Sometimes they can can get superficial cuts from the other bull’s horns, but they all came away uninjured and lived to see another day. Occasionally you see the giant bulls being taken for walks or even a dip in the ocean. They are pampered by their owners, living a life far better than most male cows. I wonder what happens when they get older. Can a gladiator ever earn their freedom.