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 …
Three more videos from the TEDxOIST Okinawa event are now on YouTube. A great experience working on this project with Gary Hughes, Jon Galione, Patrick Batac, and the OIST team.
Why do scientists use the Latin names when describing a species? To avoid confusion between languages, and within the same language, about exactly what species you are describing. The fish in the photo above is Amphiprion ocellaris. For identification I could go to my favorite identification book for fish in Okinawa: Reef Fish Identification – Tropical Pacific In this book Amphiprion ocellaris is called the False clown anemonefish. If we check on Wikipedia for Amphiprion ocellaris we find a wide range of common names. “The ocellaris clownfish, also known as the false percula clownfish or common clownfish, is a marine fish belonging to the family Pomacentridae, which includes clownfishes and damselfishes. ” Wikipedia However, my preferred source for fish names is Fishbase which gives the common name as clown anemonefish. Then again, for millions of children around the world, Amphiprion ocellaris is simply known as Nemo.
Last month our team recorded the TEDxOIST lectures, and they are currently in the process of being released on the TEDx YouTube channel. The first 3 have just come online so if you didn’t manage to see the event you can watch them here. There are 10 lectures in total, so I’ll announce on the blog when the other videos are available. A huge thanks to my team of Gary, Jon and Patrick for operating the other cameras. It was great working together filming the event, and also to be part of an even larger team who were organizing TEDxOIST.
Octopuses, masters of camouflage. Their ability to change both color and texture to match their environment makes them difficult to spot until they make a move. Always a pleasure to see such an amazing creature while out on a dive in Okinawa.
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.
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.
The Sesoko Island tug-of-war took place on Sunday 23rd September. The occasional downpour didn’t stop the participants from enjoying themselves. Similar to Naha’s tug-of-war, “kings” representing the two sides of the rope are held aloft on platforms and battle before the tug-of-war begins.
After battling cancer, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto passed away today, September 18 2018, at age 41. I photographed him in December 2016 when he visited Okinawa, and then was invited to take portraits for the opening of his Krazy Bee gym in Okinawa. It was a real pleasure to meet him and his family. For several years I’ve been photographing the karate masters of Okinawa. It has been sad when I’ve heard one of the elderly sensei has passed away, but the death of Yamamoto at such a young age is painful. I wish his family so much love and peace at this time.
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.