All posts tagged: japan

Kenichi Yamashiro 9th dan Matayoshi Kobudo

On Friday evening we travelled down to the very south of the main island of Okinawa to the dojo of Kenichi Yamashiro. He is the 83rd sensei to be photographed for the project, and it was fascinating to meet him. Kobudo is the weapons system of Okinawan martial arts and is often studied alongside karate. Arguably kobudo is an intrinsic part of traditional karate, or perhaps traditional karate is an intrinsic part of kobudo. Yamashiro sensei trains with a wide range of weapons, including some which I’d never seen before such as the spinning bo staff. Hopefully in the future we’ll be back again to interview him for the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate documentary series. All images captured using the Pentax 645Z and 90mm lens. Lighting using the Profoto B1 and softlight reflector. A big thank you to Gary Hughes for assisting with lighting, Yuki Willson and James East for interpreting, and Mike Clayton for help setting up the shoot. A huge thank you to Kenichi Yamashiro for inviting us into his dojo and …

Sensei – Masters of Okinawan Karate #1 Arakaki Toshimitsu

This video is the first in a possible series of interviews with Okinawan karate masters. The sensei discuss their lives and share advice on training. The first master is Toshimitsu Arakaki, Hanshi 10th-dan, Matsubayashi-ryu Karate (Shorin-ryu). 新垣 敏光 範士十段 松林流空手 (小林流)He is the teacher of my good friend James Pankiewicz who arranged for the interview to take place. (James runs the famous Dojo Bar in Naha City, and the Asato Dojo across the street. Check them out when in Okinawa!) This pilot video is an opportunity to see if there is much interest in making this a series of videos rather than just a one off. Potentially interviews could take place with several karate masters and include more footage of them training or their everyday lives. Will all the videos be on YouTube? Yes! The idea is for the videos to be available for free on YouTube to anyone who wants to watch. Hopefully individuals, dojos, or karate organizations would be willing to help sponsor the project to make it viable, but this would only …

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 …

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.

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 …

Humpback Whale Watching on Okinawa

Here’s my latest collaboration video with Skylum Software. I take to the waters off the coast of Motobu, Okinawa to try and photograph humpback whales. Please like, share and comment on the video as it will help others find it and allow us to keep on making videos! Skylum Software just released a new update to Luminar this week so it is now faster with a few new editing options also. A big thank you to Okinawa Island Crew for letting me shoot photos and video on the boat. I much prefer whale watching from Motobu rather than Naha as the whales are located much closer to the port. The gear used in the video was the Pentax 645Z camera with the 300mm f4 lens. The tripod was a carbon fibre LEO by 3 Legged Thing, and the bag is the Whistler by Lowepro.