All posts tagged: japanese

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 …

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 …

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.

Naha Giant Tug of War – Oct 8th 2017

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.  

Camera Test – Fujifilm EPX-4440HD

Photographers looking for lightweight portable imaging devices often give rave reviews of  mirrorless Fuji cameras. So this week I decided to test out one of the latest cameras in the Fujifilm line, the EPX-4440HD. Positive points about this camera include “User-friendly menus” and “Advanced image technology” it also offers an “anti-blur function  that allows an optimal image to be extracted from multiple images.” A great option for those with less steady hands. Portability is a little restricted. Although the camera is small, it does require a cart for the processing system and monitor. Photographers accustomed to tethered systems in the studio will probably be the most familiar with this setup. Wedding photographers and fashion photographers may find the range of angles a little limiting. Those with an interest in macro photography will enjoy the camera’s ability to focus at short distances while the “300 watt xenon primary light source” brings illumination to the most restricted of shooting locations. For portrait photographers the camera offers new possibilities beyond your basic profile, full face, and three-quarter view. This may be a way for …

Geisha in the Rain

It’s raining, but you’ve still got to go to work. So you grab your umbrella and book a cab for yourself and a couple of workmates. The taxi arrives.  The driver helps to keep your clothes dry as you get in the vehicle. Cherry blossom covers the trees. Ready to go, the evening awaits.

100 Kata for Karate Day 2016

100 Kata for Karate Day is an endurance event created by James Pankiewicz of the Dojo Bar in Naha. Participants complete 100 kata (set forms) over a period of around 2 hours. This year the event took place at Churasun Beach, and was opened by the Mayor of Tomigusku. Arakaki Toshimitsu , 10th dan master of Matsubayashiryu karate (and James’ sensei)  gave a welcome speech and watched over the event. Participants performed 80 kata on the grass before moving down to the sand. Although it’s October, Okinawa is still hot and humid. A cool breeze provided a little relief, but it was still a real test of grit and determination. Congratulations to all who took part.

Naked in the Rain

Ohara Hadaka Matsuri a.k.a. the Ohara Naked Festival took place in heavy rain on the 23rd of September. To clarify “naked” is clearly not an accurate description with the participants wearing far more than the fundoshi loincloths seen at the Okayama Hadaka Matsuri. As this is a traditional Shinto festival a priest gave blessings, and somewhat unusually two arrows were launched into the ocean. Teams carried mikoshi (portable shrines) down to the ocean. It was clear that the mikoshi were heavy and the teams looked exhausted as they shouldered the wooden beams. After dunking themselves and the shrine in the ocean waves they returned to the beach, and managed to raise it above their heads. All images shot with the Pentax 645Z and the 25mm lens. Glad both the camera and lens are weather sealed because they were subjected to rain for half an hour.

Onbashira – the bold and the brave

Riding a tree trunk as it slides down the side of a mountain is as safe as it sounds. There are injuries, and numerous participants have died. The Onbashira festival, however, has taken place for over 12 centuries. Every 6 years, tradition takes priority over health and safety, and with a heady mixture of religious fervor and adrenaline, the men go for the ride of their lives. The kiotoshi (tree falling)  part of the Shimosha Onbashira takes place over three days. Friday 8th of April 2016, was the first day, with three different teams riding in the afternoon. Having shot the first team with a 300mm telephoto lens, I switched to the 90mm so that I could put the action in a little more context. When the tree trunks finally comes to a stop, all the members of the team scramble together to celebrate and then start to drag the trunk onwards. The men with white helmets and riot shields at the base of the hill are to stop dislodged stones from hitting the crowds. As …