All posts tagged: japan

Takachiho Shrine, Miyazaki

In spring, while on assignment in Kyushu, I spent a couple of days in Takachiho which is famous for its gorge, and the kagura performances. Another notable site is the Takachiho Shrine which is hidden in amongst many giant cedars. As a Shinto shrine, the entrance is marked by a giant torii gate. There are komainu guardians, flanking the steps to the main shrine buidling, and another sacred komainu housed inside. Ema, prayer tablets, that are unique to the shrine, can be purchased to write your hope and dreams. Omikuji, fortune papers, tell what your future holds. These are sold in the little shrine shop manned by the miko (巫女), shrine maidens, who are dressed in red and white. As I was visiting officially, I was able to ask the staff if I could take a photograph of one of the miko in front of the shrine. This is not something I’d usually be able to do, so a huge thank you to the staff of the shrine for being so friendly and accommodating. All …

Takachiho Gorge, Miyazaki, Kyushu

Takachiho Gorge ( 高千穂峡, Takachiho-kyō ) is a small but very pretty gorge in Miyazaki Prefecture, on the island of Kyushu. The sides of the gorge are made of basalt columns, one reminder of the areas volcanic history. Another indicator of vulcanism is the giant boulder Kihachi-no-chikarashi which could be have been ejected by a volcano, or if you ask the locals, was thrown by the demon Kihachi. Tourists can rent rowing boats and explore the gorge from the river.

The Beauty of Bise

Last week, Yuki and I photographed a lovely young lady in an elegant kimono amongst the fukugi trees of Bise Village. For a few hours I had to stop checking the news on my phone, and just focus on sharing the beauty and culture of Okinawa. My heart goes out to all those suffering around the world, the horrors of the pandemic and war have claimed the lives of so many. It is hard not to feel overwhelmed by the bleakness of the last few years, but I try to remember all the good and positive things in the world. The Okinawan people went through almost unimaginable suffering during the Second World War. When I talk to those that survived, I am always struck by their love of life, and the joy they have for their family, friends and culture. I’ll continue to stay up to date with the news, but I’ll also do my best to be grateful for all that I have, and optimistic about the future for everyone in this global community. …

Morinobu Maeshiro, 真栄城 守信 10th dan Shorin-Ryu Karate

Morinobu Maeshiro, 真栄城 守信 is 10th dan in Shorin-ryu Karate, and an Intangible Cultural Asset Holder in the Field of Okinawan Karate and Martial Arts with Weaponry. I photographed him for the first time at the Budokan in 2014, but I was pleased to be able to photograph him again in 2021, this time at his dojo in Naha City. After taking some new portraits, we set up the cameras and recorded a 45-minute interview with him discussing his life spent studying karate, his teachers, and his own philosophies. This will become Episode 1 of Series Two of Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate. After the interview, we then streamed an online seminar which was watched live by his students around the world. The seminar was also recorded and will be available on Bujin.TV from mid-December. You can learn more about the portrait project and the documentary series by clicking on the “Karate” tab on this blog, or by following this link. Thank you so much to Maeshiro Sensei for his time, and to Nicolás Pérez …

KARATE NEWS!

We have a couple of big announcements regarding karate in Okinawa. Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate SERIES TWO coming in 2022 After the extremely positive feedback we got about the first series of our documentary about Okinawan karate, we are going to make a second series that will be released in 2022. You can read all the details about series one, our future plans, and fundraising here: Sensei Documentary The next big news is that we are going to be offering a streaming service for karate seminars in Okinawa. This will be organized, hosted, and interpreted by James Pankiewicz of Bujin.tv with the filming and streaming provided by Chris Willson and Yuki Willson of TRAVEL67.com. We’ve created a great way to help reconnect Okinawan karate masters with their students around the world. Our experience with videography allows us to provide audio and visual quality far superior than a simple webcam. You can read all the details about this service here: Karate Streaming Of course we’re still continuing to document Okinawa’s martial arts sensei for the …

Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate #7 Tsuguo Sakumoto

Tsuguo Sakumoto, 7 times consecutive world champion, and coach to 9 world champions including Arata Kinjo, Takuya Uemura and Ryo Kiyuna. He is 9th-dan in Ryuei-ryu karate. Ryo Kiyuna is one of Japan’s best chances to win a gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 (2021) Olympics so Sakumoto Sensei is more than ever a very busy man. Luckily he liked the portraits of him I shot in 2014 so we managed to get to interview him last September for the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate Series. You can learn more about the series, and even how to support is here: https://travel67.com/the-karate-masters-portrait-project/sensei-documentary/

Shuri Castle Destroyed by Fire

 At approximately 2:30 a.m. on Thursday 31st October 2019 a fire started inside Okinawa’s Shuri Castle which destroyed the main hall and several adjoining buildings. Now, one week later, the Governor of Okinawa and the Prime Minister of Japan have both promised that it shall be rebuilt. The challenges of doing so, and the timeline are not yet clear, but I look forward to it rising once again from the ashes of destruction. Below are a few pics of Shuri Castle taken over the last 19 years. Most were taken at the New Year Festival or the Shuri Castle Festival which they were preparing for when the fire broke out.

Success and Sponsorship

Now that the first three episodes of Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate have been published to YouTube I can happily say that the feedback I’m getting has been really positive, and its popularity on YouTube is growing with each video! The first video had 5000 views in its first month, the second video had 62,000 views in its first month, and the third video has had 86,000 views in its first two weeks! I’m in the final stages of the edit of the fourth video with Sensei Takeshi Tamaki, and hope it will be released on May 22nd. This endeavour is possible because of sponsorship and support by the international karate community. If you see the value of undertaking this project, please consider become a main series sponsor, series sponsor, or supporter. More details here. Sponsors and supporters are listed in all subsequent episodes of the series. If you’d like to help, and get in touch before May 21st, I can add you to the credits for Episode 4 before the final file creation and …