All posts tagged: okinawan

Traditional Okinawan Hairstyle

 The traditional hairstyle for Okinawan women is called kanpuu. The hair is twisted on top of the head, and then held in place with a jiifaa hairpin. Photographed with the Pentax 645Z and 90mm lens. Natural light. This was shot during this months Photography Fundamentals workshop. The next one will be March 30th / 31st 2019. https://www.facebook.com/events/547482259063977/

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 …

Chasing Waterfalls

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.    

Summer in Okinawa

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.

Coconut Crabs of Okinawa

Coconut crabs, Birgus latro, are the world’s largest land-living arthropods. Okinawa is the northernmost habitat for the species. They hibernate during the winter, and are nocturnal, so many Okinawans have never seen one. The crabs can grow up to 3 kilos, and have large powerful claws. They are scavengers and usually eat fallen fruit from trees such as the adan (Pandanus odoratissimus), but they will nibble on the occasional dead animal. Coconut crabs grow very slowly and can live for up to 60 years. As sexual maturity doesn’t occur until 5 years old, predation of larger crabs by animals or humans can lead to a population being unable to recover. Researchers such as marine biologist Shin-ichiro Oka monitor the coconut crabs in Okinawa. Crabs are measured, photographed, tagged, and have their position logged. Other interesting aspects of coconut crab biology have been studied including their grip strength. Oka explains that a large coconut crab has a grip strength similar to the jaws of a lion. Thank you to Shin-ichiro Oka for letting me tag along …

Goat Wrestling on Sesoko Island

  Goat wrestling is an annual event on Sesoko Island in Motobu, Okinawa.  Two male goats are placed in a ring, and then do what comes naturally. If they are evenly matched they will butt heads until one turns in submission. If they are unevenly matched, or uninterested they ignore each other, or the weaker goat wanders straight back to the gate often sticking its head through the railings. The goats seem to be unaffected by the occasional headbutt. Sportingly, they never tried to headbutt their opponent anywhere except the head. The curved horns also seemed to avoid any puncture wounds or lacerations. The only goat that came off badly at the whole event was the young goat that was given away as 1st prize in the raffle. The winner was asked what he was going to do with the goat. He replied, “eat it.” The video was shot with the Sony A7SII camera with a 16-35mm lens on a CAME-TV Single gimbal.   The video was shot and uploaded to YouTube in 4K.

Bodybuilder Hidekazu Taba

Hidekazu Taba is a champion bodybuilder. Several years ago I saw him compete at the Pacific Muscle Classic on Camp Foster. He won his weight class, he won his age group, he won overall. In other competitions, he’s repeated the feat. He dominates Okinawan body building, and he does it at age 67. For a long time I’ve been hoping to photograph Taba-san and yesterday I visited his home to take a few pics. Taba-san began bodybuilding around 40 years ago after seeing a Tarzan movie. He hits the gym for a couple of hours, 5 days a week. Unlike many bodybuilders who bulk up and then cut weight (shred?) for competitions he stay lean all year. The reason is that he’s not trying to peak for a single event, but has to be ready for local competitions or festivals all year. He’s very happy that his grandchildren are proud to have a super cool oji-chan. I’m looking forward to shooting more photos of Taba-san training at the gym and at competitions. Images shot with …

Stamp of Approval

This week, Japan Post released a set of postage stamps to commemorate Karate Day in Okinawa. The series of eight stamps is made up of Okinawan karate masters of different styles. The bottom right image is of Yoshitaka Taira, 10th dan World Matsubayashi-ryu (Shorin-ryu) and is one of the photographs I shot for the Karate Masters Portrait Project. Pleasingly, this is the second time one of my images has been used on a Japanese stamp. The first was around 12 years ago when they chose my photograph of Kabira Bay to represent one of Okinawa’s beautiful landmarks. In all that time the price of a postage stamp has only gone up two yen!