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.
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.
A few of the amazing creatures living in Okinawa’s ocean. The top photo is of the male ribbon eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita). Amazingly, some blue male ribbon eels change to bright yellow female ribbon eels in later life. This next fish is a honeycomb grouper (Epinephelus merra) whose spots help camouflage it while on the reef. It was also named “Fish most likely to turn into a giraffe.” Next is a Naia pipefish (Dunckerocampus naia) which was about 3 centimeters long. Similar to a seahorse, but less pretentious. The striped puffer (Arothron manilensis) looks like it’s wearing prison uniform. It’s a relative of the tiger blowfish (Takifugu rubripes) that occasionally kills diners with its tetrodotoxin poison. The black-finned snake eel (Ophichthus altipennis) watches the world swim by from its hole in the sand. This tiny Dinah’s goby ( Lubricogobius dinah ) didn’t have to bother making a hole, it was quite happy with a ready-made glass bottle. Just as tiny was this sea cucumber crab (Lissocarcinus orbicularis) living on the surface of a sea cucumber. And even smaller was this tiny emperor shrimp (Periclimenes imperator) who …
Three waterfall pics I shot recently while exploring Okinawa. Above is Fukugawa Falls in Nago. Next is Utinda Falls, Uka, Kunigami Vilage, Okinawa. And finally Todoroki Falls ( Todoroki-no-taki), Nago, Okinawa. There are dozens of waterfalls on the main island of Okinawa, and far more (and even more impressive) waterfalls on Okinawa’s southern islands. Just stay safe, and be aware of flash floods after heavy rain. Or you could just stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.
Back in the water again and also hitting the marine species identification books for a job we are working on. Finally learning the names of the creatures I’ve been staring at or photographing the last couple of decades. The top featured image is a pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) I encountered last week. Looking back through my old images I can start working out what they are. A tomato clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus) living in a bubble-tip anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor). Hard to tell, but I think this next guy is Amphiprion clarkii, known commonly as Clark’s anemonefish. A false clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris). This is Nemo’s species. Another pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) Identifying the anemones is an even greater challenge. Particularly, as at times what looks like an anemone may in fact be a coral. Below is Amplexidiscus fenestrafer that is sometimes called the elephant ear anemone but is more accurately named the giant cup mushroom coral. Much more learning to be done.
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.
Shawn, Hiroshi and I went out for a dive at Cape Maeda, and for the first time in a while I set up the underwater camera rig. Our main goal was to find a frogfish Shawn had previously spotted. We found him sitting on the second reef at about 25 meters deep, his pelvic and pectoral fins acting like little feet. Other creatures I snapped on our dives were nudibranchs (sea slugs), anemonefish (Nemo), and trumpetfish (both silver and yellow species). As it was a Saturday, summer, glorious weather, and a famous spot, Maeda was packed with people. By mid-morning there was a line all the way up the steps of people waiting to get in. (A quick P.S.A. to a couple of snorkelers we saw: if you must ignore the line and push past all the people waiting, you might want to cover up your USMC tattoos so you’re not such poor ambassadors to your corps.) Maeda’s popularity, particularly with new divers, does have a negative impact on the reef. Ideally, divers should …
Another impressive Expo Park Fireworks Festival on Saturday. Very glad I live just a short walk from the event so I don’t get caught in Okinawa’s longest traffic jam of the year. Shooting fireworks against a black sky doesn’t really put the event in any context. Luckily the show started at 8pm and there was still a little color in the sky for the first 5 minutes. This was when I shot the picture above showing the fireworks, Emerald Beach, and the Orion Hotel. Then as darkness enveloped us, I got a few pics of the fireworks and reflections on the ocean. However, my favorite firework photos are still the shots I took at the Miyajima fireworks festival where the floating torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine could be silhouette by explosions. Saturday’s pics were shot with the Pentax K-1 with the 24-70mm f2.8 lens. The floating torii firework images were taken with the Pentax 67II medium format film camera and Fuji Provia 100F film.
Yesterday I made the short drive over to Nakijin Village to the home of Koichi Nakasone, 9th Dan Ryukyu Kingdom Sui-di Bujutsu. He is the 76th sensei to be photographed for the Karate Masters Portrait Project. James Pankiewicz, Becka Tedder, and I sat down for a chat in the traditional wooden house that Nakasone sensei had recently built by himself. He told us a few stories about his karate training, and the three months he spent in the USA traveling from dojo to dojo, challenging the members to fight. (Known in Japanese as dojo yaburi.) After our chat, we set up the black background on the side of the house and took the portraits. (Pentax 645Z with 90mm lens. Profoto B1 with white softlight reflector.) We then drove a couple of minutes to beautiful Nagahama Beach for some more location shots. I switched lenses to the 25mm wide-angle and removed the softlight reflector as we needed as much power as possible to try and fill in shadows. Becka held the light, while James put on his …
Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes. Fun, Fun, Fun in the Sun, Sun, Sun. HAPPY WELCOME to the summer heat and humidity. Beautiful blue skies, and sweaty sweaty t-shirts. Spent the weekend out in the sun for the North and South Intermediate Workshop. 82 year old Jahana-san showing how to stay cool in the summer heat. Put on a hat and stay in the shade. Time for some fresh mango juice.