All posts tagged: travel

Exploring the Yanbaru

A couple of weeks ago I spent the day exploring the northern part of Okinawa known as Yanbaru. Here are a few snaps from a fun day out. I joined a guided walk that meets up at the Yanbaru Visitors Center and “Road Station” that opened in February 2020. There’s a mini supermarket packed with local produce if you need to stock up with snacks before your hike, or to buy ingredients for dinner after your adventure. A guided walk teaches you far more about the local flora and fauna than if you just treated the hike as a way to burn off calories. The guide was able to spot numerous critters, and explain the names and special features of the many plants along the trail. There was a good viewpoint from the summit on the trail looking out towards the Okuma Peninsular, and then we descended back down through the forest. We stopped for lunch at Maruhira restaurant while heading north on the west coast. If you contact the restaurant in advance they can …

Mushama Festival, Hateruma Island (Part 2 -The Ladies)

A few shots of the ladies at the Mushama Festival on Hateruma Island. Although the biggest festivals in Japan can sometimes be raucous male dominated events, the smaller local matsuri are a great opportunity for the whole family, young and old, to take part in celebrating traditions and give thanks. I wonder if, on the other side of the world, there’s a Japanese photographer wandering around a village fête in rural England photographing the local bake-off, morris dancing, and a gurning contest.

Manta Scramble, Ishigaki Island, Okinawa

This month it’s manta season off the coast of Ishigaki. At the dive spot known as Manta Scramble there is a good chance of seeing one or even several mantas on your dive. I visited Ishigaki about 6 years ago while researching the travel feature Southern Comfort — Life on Ishigaki Island. Although I dove with the mantas, at that time I didn’t have an underwater camera system. And so many years later I returned to Ishigaki with all my gear to do three days of diving and to photograph a local festival. Diving with mantas was far easier than my recent trip to photograph the underwater ruins and hammerhead sharks of Yonaguni. Yonaguni had strong currents, heavy swells, and cold water, it was demanding diving even without a camera rig. Diving with mantas on Ishigaki is possible for snorkelers and less experienced divers. On my trip the biggest danger was sunburn. There are several rules for manta diving. Don’t touch, don’t chase, don’t exhale bubbles into their gills, and stay with your guide. The …