All posts tagged: ryukyu islands

100 Kata for Karate Day 2017

October 25th is Karate Day in Okinawa! Yesterday was the 100 kata event at the new Karate Kaikan in Okinawa. I was busy shooting some video so I passed the Pentax K-1 camera over to Yuki so she could take the photos. All the participants did really well undertaking the challenge, a huge thanks to James Pankiewicz for organizing, and great job Yuki with the pics!

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.  

Shy Guy

Nemos a.k.a. false clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) are surprisingly brave, if not aggressive. They’ll come out of their anemone and try to intimidate larger fish or scuba divers. The pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) is far more shy. It is quite happy to stay hidden among the tentacles of an anemone and wait until the danger has past. This little fish has made home in a sebae anemone (Heteractis crispa). Seen at Horseshoe reef near Cape Manza, Okinawa, Japan.

Karate Masters Archive Project

The Karate Masters Portrait Project began on March 11, 2012 with a photo session of Yoshitaka Taira sensei and Toshimitsu Arakaki sensei. Five and a half years later, James and I are starting a parallel project to interview these masters and try to create an archive of their teachings. Once again we began with Toshimitsu Arakaki sensei, and look forward to learning a great deal over the coming years. Video offers a whole new set of challenges both technical and financial. As with the Karate Masters Portrait Project we’re striving for quality, as hopefully the content we produce will be of interest both now and in the future. The basic look of the interview is similar to the portraits with a simple black background. For portraits we used a single strobe with a beauty dish, for video we’re using a CAME-TV C700D Daylight LED Edge Light as the keylight on the face and a CAME-TV Boltzen as a rim light on the subject’s right. Here’s a test shot with me looking sleepy. The lights are …

Fantastic Beasts

A few of the amazing creatures living in Okinawa’s ocean.  The top photo is of the male ribbon eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita). Amazingly, some blue male ribbon eels change to bright yellow female ribbon eels in later life. This next fish is a honeycomb grouper (Epinephelus merra) whose spots help camouflage  it while on the reef. It was also named “Fish most likely to turn into a giraffe.” Next is a Naia pipefish (Dunckerocampus naia) which was about 3 centimeters long. Similar to a seahorse, but less pretentious. The striped puffer (Arothron manilensis) looks like it’s wearing prison uniform. It’s a relative of the tiger blowfish (Takifugu rubripes) that occasionally kills diners with its  tetrodotoxin poison. The black-finned snake eel (Ophichthus altipennis) watches the world swim by from its hole in the sand. This tiny Dinah’s goby ( Lubricogobius dinah ) didn’t have to bother making a hole, it was quite happy with a ready-made glass bottle. Just as tiny was this sea cucumber crab  (Lissocarcinus orbicularis) living on the surface of a sea cucumber. And even smaller was this tiny emperor shrimp (Periclimenes imperator) who …

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.    

Anemones & Anemonefish

Back in the water again and also hitting the marine species identification books for a job we are working on.  Finally learning the names of the creatures I’ve been staring at or photographing the last couple of decades.  The top featured image is a pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) I encountered last week. Looking back through my old images I can start working out what they are. A tomato clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus) living in a bubble-tip anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor). Hard to tell, but I think this next guy is Amphiprion clarkii, known commonly as Clark’s anemonefish. A false clown anemonefish  (Amphiprion ocellaris). This is Nemo’s species. Another pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) Identifying the anemones is an even greater challenge. Particularly, as at times what looks like an anemone may in fact be a coral. Below is Amplexidiscus fenestrafer  that is sometimes called the elephant ear anemone but is more accurately named the giant cup mushroom coral.  Much more learning to be done.

Bull Wrestling

The Motobu Kanko Bunka Festa took place the evening after the Expo Fireworks festival. There were a few hundred rather than tens of thousands of spectators, and the entertainment was far more traditional . There was a karate demonstration by Kiyoshi Yogi, followed by some goat wrestling, folk singing, and then bull wrestling. There were five bouts of bull wrestling. The bulls locked horns, and then pushed until one of them gave up and turned away. Sometimes they can can get superficial cuts from the other bull’s horns, but they all came away uninjured and lived to see another day. Occasionally you see the giant bulls being taken for walks or even a dip in the ocean. They are pampered by their owners, living a life far better than most male cows. I wonder what happens when they get older. Can a gladiator ever earn their freedom.

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 …

Isao Yagi 9th dan Motobu-ryu Ryukyu Bujutsu Moudi

Motobu udundi is the ancient martial art of the Ryukyu palace guards. Its techniques were kept secret, and reserved for those who would risk their lives for the royal family. On September 15th 2016 we visited the beautiful dojo of Seihan Shiroma  in Sashiki Town.  Sadly, Shiroma-sensei passed away in 2012 at the age of  71. We were never able to photograph Seihan Shiroma, so it was touching to meet his widow and be introduced to his top student Isao Yagi. Yagi-sensei now imparts the knowledge taught to him by his master to students at the Shiroma dojo. It was an honor to be able to photograph him as part of the Karate Masters Portrait Project. Motobu udundi blends te (the precursor of karate) kobudo (weapons) and Ryukyu dance.  In other dojos I had seen nunchaku, bo, sai and other weapons, but this was the first time to see a master demonstrating the use of various swords. I’d read that the movements in Okinawan dance could be used to hide fighting techniques, and Yagi-sensei deftly demonstrated. He …