All posts filed under: Japan

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 …

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 …