All posts tagged: religion

Dia de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos (Día de Muertos) is the Mexican holiday also known as Day of the Dead. Before Spanish colonization the holiday took place in summer, but is now celebrated on November 2nd, just after All Saints’ Eve (more commonly known as Halloween).  For me, the festival seems to share more in common with Okinawa’s Obon celebrations than ghoulish Halloween. Halloween is usually thought of as night to scare away ghosts and monsters, but during Okinawa’s Obon and on Día de los Muertos families clean graves and tombs, decorate them, and give offerings of food. The departed are welcomed back to spend time with the family once again. Día de los Muertos celebrations were featured at the start of the Bond movie Spectre, and are the theme of the latest Disney / Pixar movie Coco. My friend Bernadette is Mexican American and we thought a Día de los Muertos inspired shoot would be fun. We collaborated with makeup artist Audra Pesicka who transformed Bernadette into “Catrina” with her distinctive skull. Images were shot with the Pentax 645Z and the 90mm …

The Okinawan Priestess

I’m no expert on Okinawan religion, and the facts seem to vary a lot depending on who you ask, but here’s a brief explanation of a ceremony I photographed last week on Kouri Island. Okinawa’s native religion is ancestor worship, and the most important spiritual leaders are women. They are called either noro, yuta, or the more general term kaminchu. Ayako Toguchi is a spiritual leader on Kouri Island, I met her once before at the Unjami Festival. A friend pointed out on this visit that the mural in the shrine office of a woman flying through the air with a dragon is actually a portrait of Toguchi-san. April 3rd, is the third day of the third month in the Okinawan calendar, and a special ceremony was held at Sururu Gama (Sururu Cave) on Kouri Island. The cave is only accessible at low tide, after a scramble down to a hidden beach. Even at low tide the entrance must be cleared of rocks and sand before you can enter the cave. After entering the cave, offerings …

Unjami Festival on Kouri Island, Okinawa

Yesterday, August 25th, was the Unjami Festival on Kouri Island, Okinawa. It is a time to give thanks to the gods. Wearing wreaths of ryukyu botanzuru (Clematis taiwaniana var. ryukiuensis) village elders lead the prayers and offerings. At 96 years old, Kaneshi Fusae is the most senior of the village elders. Participants and spectators at the festival received some mochi (sticky gelatinous rice cake). After offerings of paper money and Awamori rice liquor at the shrine, 79 year old Toguchi Ayako lead the way down toward the sea. More prayers  as we crossed the little road that rings the island. And then finally, on a bluff over looking the ocean,  Toguchi-san gave the final blessings. Kaneshi-san was all smiles, another festival completed.

Two Sadhus

It was nice to be able to get two Sadhus into the same photograph. This was taken with an aperture of F5.6. If I’d shot any wider, I’d have completely blurred out the sadhu in the background, and lost the composition. After taking the photo, I moved up the steps and shot a closer portrait of the sadhu that had been in the background in the previous image. One, two sadhus sit before you That’s what I said now