This page is about the Karate Masters Portrait Project. For information about the documentary series click here Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate

The Karate Masters Portrait Project

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The Karate Masters Portrait Project began in March 2012. Its goal is to document karate and kobudo masters teaching in Okinawa at the start of the 21st Century. Their unparalleled knowledge of martial arts makes them of great cultural importance both in Japan and worldwide.



Morio Higaonna, 10th dan Okinawa Goju-ryu karate.

Morio Higaonna, 10th dan Okinawa Goju-ryu karate.

In 2012, James Pankiewicz, owner of the DOJO Bar in Naha, discussed with photographer Chris Willson how there were few, if any, good photos of certain karate masters. There was also little consistency in the images available. Many were blurry, low resolution, noisy, or simply snapped from a distance at a competition or demonstration.

2012年、那覇市内にある DOJO Bar のオーナー、ジェームズ・パンキュビッチは、フォトグラファーのクリス・ウィルソンと空手指導者の良い肖像はないかと話し合いました。

それまでの使用可能なイメージはほとんど一貫性がなく、解像度が低くぼやけており、ノイズが多く、 遠い距離からのスナップ写真ばかりでした。

Tsuguo Sakumoto 9th dan Ryuei-ryu

Tsuguo Sakumoto 9th dan Ryuei-ryu

James and Chris began to take studio lighting, a black backdrop, and a high definition digital camera into the dojos of the karate masters. They hoped the portraits produced would become a historical record of the masters of Okinawan karate at the start of the 21st century.

ジェームズとクリスは 道場にスタジオの照明や、黒背景、高精細デジタルカメラを持ち込み、撮影を行い始めました。


Morinobu Maeshiro, 9th dan Shorin-ryu Karate

Morinobu Maeshiro, 9th dan Shorin-ryu Karate

Gear used:

Pentax 645D & 645Z cameras with Pentax 90mm f/2.8 D FA 645 Macro.

Profoto Pro-7a generator, ProHead with Softlight Refector White


Pentax 645D & 645Z カメラ、 Pentax 90mm f/2.8 D FA 645 Macro レンズ、

Profoto Pro-7a スタジオジェネレーター, Proヘッド、ソフトライトリフレクター ホワイト


Shooting at the Hokama Dojo.

The order in which they photographed the karate masters was not based on age, style or rank, but rather on slowly building up connections within the Okinawan karate community.

撮影の順序は、先生方の年齢、スタイルやランクに関係なく、 沖縄空手の方々との関係を少しずつ広げていき、築きあげながら撮影を取り行いました。

Kiyomi Yogi, 6th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Kiyomi Yogi, 6th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Images from the Karate Masters Portrait Project can be seen on the web at either Facebook or Flickr.  However, Karate masters and their students around the world began to ask if we could produce a print book of the project.  I decided to make the kind of book that I’d like to own myself. A large, high quality, coffee-table book with images of all 58 sensei that we’d photographed so far.

It quickly became clear that traditional publishers would want orders of several thousand books. Book production would simply be too expensive to undertake, and too risky if I couldn’t sell all of books. It might have even compromised the future of the project as I would have had to concentrate on being a bookseller rather than a photographer.

The solution was to use the U.S. print-on-demand publisher Blurb. I could create a large (11 inch x 13 inch) 122 page book and specify the use of high quality photo paper. Each of the 58 karate masters could have two pages of images along with their name, rank, and style in both English and Japanese.

2-page spread for Taira sensei.

2-page spread for Taira sensei.

I ordered a single test copy, it was shipped from the States to Okinawa. The test copy was then placed at the Dojo Bar where the karate masters were able to view it. A second test copy with higher quality paper was also ordered. This arrived and the “premium lustre” paper along with charcoal proline endpapers was a good improvement. Meanwhile James and I began contacting all the karate masters to double check the information in English and Japanese, and let them know about the progress we were making with the book.

After making the necessary changes to the text, I ordered another test copy. This arrived and a few more small changes were made along with the addition of a title page, copyright information etc. On November 29th the final version of the book was uploaded to Blurb, and it is now on sale!

You can buy your copy here!

After receiving your order Blurb will print your copy and can mail it worldwide. We do have a stock of books on sale in Okinawa.

Why are the books so expensive? Mass produced books are cheap because they are made in bulk, hundreds of thousands of copies. Books that are produced in lower volumes are more expensive (the reason why some textbooks for university courses are hundreds of dollars). And high quality books that are produced on-demand, are even more expensive as they are printed individually.

The following page-by-page video allows you to check the exact photos in the book before purchase. You can also see a brief preview on the blurb website.

If a karate organization would like to gift a copy of the book to a particular master this is possible. We can order the copy, have it sent to Okinawa, sign it, and present it in person to the karate master from you. If you’d like to include a message with the book, then I can print out a message and place it inside the book.  Please contact me at chris@travel67.com if this is something we can help you with.


Each karate master photographed is given two prints for their own dojo as a thank you for taking part in the project. The pictures have been so gratefully received, and we’ve received  many thanks from the karate masters and their families.

Handing out prints at Naha's budokan.

Handing out fine art  prints as gifts to instructors at Naha’s budokan.


At the request of some overseas dojos, offer the full resolution digital files of  a single image or the best shots of a particular shoot. Purchase of the digital files gives you permission to make  prints for personal usage or for the promotion of an event by the karate master. ( You can’t sell the digital files on to others, or use the images for purposes other than prints for yourself or your dojo. If you have questions regarding this please email and ask.) As the images are shot with medium format digital cameras (40MP & 53MP) it is possible to make very large prints.

Digital Download of Full Resolution Files

Single Image US $100

Set of Images of a Master US$500

Purchasing a print or digital files,  not only helps fund the Karate Masters Portriat Project, but also the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate video series.  The karate masters themselves are given the rights to use the images for free, as they have already generously given their time in agreeing to take part in the project. 


If you are a magazine or organization interested in licensing the images please contact me at chris@travel67.com with your questions. Permission to use an image for non-editorial  purposes will not be given without the specific consent of the karate masters.


Volume 1 (ranks given November 2014)

1          Yoshitaka Taira,      Hanshi 10th-dan, Matsubayashi-ryu Karate (Shorin-ryu)                        Photographed March 11, 2012 & Sept 1, 2014

平良 慶孝         範士十段       松林流空手           (小林流)

2          Toshimitsu Arakaki, Hanshi 10th-dan, Matsubayashi-ryu Karate (Shorin-ryu)                     Photographed March 11, 2012

新垣 敏光     範士十段     松林流空手          (少林流)

3          Masaji Taira, Hanshi 9th-dan, Goju-ryu Karate                                                                            Photographed March 24, 2012 & Sept 30, 2014

平良 正次 範士九段     剛柔流空手

4          Katsuhiko Yogi, Kyoshi 8th-dan, Goju-ryu Karate                                                                       Photographed March 24, 2012

与儀 勝彦        教士八段     剛柔流空手

5          Tetsuhiro Hokama, Hanshi 10th-dan Goju-ryu Karate   Hanshi 10th-dan Hokama Kobudo              Photographed April 14, 2012

外間 哲弘         範士十段        剛柔流空手    範士十段    外間古武道

6          Takehiro Gaja, Hanshi 9th-dan, Uechi-ryu Karate  and Kyoshi 7Th-dan Matayoshi Kobudo                           Photographed April 29, 2012

我謝 孟弘     範九段  上地流空手        教士七段   又吉古武道

7          Hiroshi Akamine, Kyoshi 8th-dan, Shorin-ryu Karate & 8th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo Shimbukan           Photographed May 19, 2012

赤嶺 浩          教士八段   小林流 空手 教士八段 琉球古武道信武舘

8          Shigetoshi Senaha,  Hanshi 9th-dan,  Goju-ryu Karate                                                               Photographed May 25, 2012

            瀬名波 重敏      範士九段   剛柔流空手 

9          Jyosei Yogi,   Hanshi 9th-dan Kounan-ryu Karate Dojo & Hanshi 9th-dan Okinawa Kobudo Renseikai         Photographed May 25, 2012

與儀 助盛   範士九段 硬軟流空手道場    範士九段   沖縄古武道錬成会

10       Sokuichi Gibu, Hanshi 10th-dan, Shorin-ryu Karate                                                                   Photographed June 29, 2012

儀武 息一     範士十段      小林流空手

11       Masakazu Kinjo,  Kyoshi 8th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate & Hanshi 9th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo                     Photographed August 29, 2012

金城 政和         教士八段    上地流空手         範士九段琉球古武道

12       Mitsutada Toue,  Kyoshi 8th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate and Kyoshi 8Th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo                              Photographed August 29, 2012

東江三和       教士八段 上地流空手         教士八段 琉球古武道

13       Satoshi Kinjo,  Kyoshi 7th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate and Kyoshi7th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo                                     Photographed August 29, 2012

金城憲   教士七段 上地流空手   教士七段 琉球古武道

14       Kenta Kinjo,  Renshi 6th-dan,Uechi-ryu Karate and Renshi 6th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo                                      Photographed August 29, 2012

金城 憲太 錬士六段 上地流空手    錬士六段 琉球古武道

15       Hidemi Tamayose, Hanshi 9th-dan, Ryukyu Kobudo Tesshinkan                                             Photographed October 12, 2012

玉寄 英美        範士九段     琉球古武道哲心館

16       Zenpo Shimabukuro,  Hanshi 10th-dan,  International Okinawa Shorin-ryu Seibukan Karate            Photographed November 8, 2012

島袋 善保          範士十段       国際沖縄少林流聖武館空手

17       Yoshio Kuba,  Hanshi 10th-dan, Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate                                                                    Photographed January 11, 2013

久場良男  範士十段  沖縄剛柔流空手

18       Kensho Tokumura,  Hanshi 9th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu Hozon Budo Kyokai               Photographed January 18, 2013

德村賢昌         範士九段   琉球伝統古武術保存武道協会

19       Yuuko Tomimoto,  Hanshi 10th-dan, Ryukyu Kobudo Maeda-ryu Bojutsu                                        Photographed February 18, 2013

富本 祐宏                  範士十段            琉球古武道前田流棒術

20       Kiyoshi Yogi, Kyoshi 8th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo & Kyoshi 8th-dan Uechi-ryu Kei Yogi Ryu Yogi kaikan so honbu Photographed Feb 18, 2013

            與儀 清    教士八段   琉球古武道  教士八段  上地流系 與儀流 與儀会館総本部

21       Yoshiaki Gakiya,  Kyoshi 8th-dan,  Zen Okinawa Kobudo Renmei                                  Photographed April 11, 2013

            我喜屋 良章          教士八段    全沖縄古武道連盟    

22       Kiyohide Shinjo,  Hanshi 9th-dan,  Uechi-ryu Karate                                                        Photographed April 11, 2013

新城 清秀     範士九段   上地流空手

23       Seiei Nakaza,     Hanshi 10th-dan,  Okinawa Shorin-ryu Kiyobukan                                Photographed June 18, 2013

仲座 清栄     範士十段        沖縄小林流 清武館

24       Tsuyoshi Uechi, Hanshi 9th-dan,  Isshin-ryu Karate                                                       Photographed October 27, 2013

上地 強        範士九段       一心流空手

25       Satoshi Toyama,  7th-dan, Goju-ryu Karate                                                                      Photographed October 27, 2013

當山 敏       七段  剛柔流空手

26       Zenshu Toyama,  Hanshi 10th-dan,  Goju-ryu Karate                                                       Photographed October 27, 2013

當山 全秋     範士十段       剛柔流空手

27       Narihiro Shinjo,  Kyoshi 7th-dan,  Uechi-ryu Karate                                                         Photographed February 25, 2014

新城 成博     教士七段      上地流空手

28       Meitetsu Yagi,  Hanshi 10th-dan,  Goju-ryu Meibukan Karate                                         Photographed March 3, 2014

八木 明哲   範士十段        剛柔流明武舘空手

29       Ippei Yagi,  6th-dan Okinawa Karate Do Gojyukai 5th-dan Zen Okinawa Karate Do Renmei  Photographed March 3, 2014

八木一平       六段 沖縄空手道剛柔会 五段 全沖縄空手道連盟

30       Yukio Kuniyoshi, Kaicho, Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinko Kai                                         Photographed April 8, 2014

国吉 幸雄 会長 琉球古武道保存振興会

31       Naonobu Ahagon, Hanshi 10th-dan, Okinawa Karate & Kobudo Shorin-ryu                Photographed April 25, 2014

阿波根 直信  範士十段       沖縄空手 古武道小林流

32       Seiyu Nakamura, Hanshi 10th-dan Okinawa Dento Shidokan Karate Kobujutsu Kokusai Renmei Photographed June 3, 2014

中村 清祐     範士十段       沖縄伝統志道館空手古武術 国際連盟

33       Tetsu Gima, Hanshi 9th-dan, Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate – Jundokan                               Photographed June 12, 2014

儀間 哲     範士九段     沖縄剛柔流空手道総本部 順道館

34       Tsueno Kinjo, Hanshi 9th-dan, Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate – Jundokan                           Photographed June 12, 2014

金城 常雄   範士九段   沖縄剛柔流空手道総本部 順道館

35       Tetsunosuke Yasuda, Hanshi 10th Dan, Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate Jundokan              Photographed June 12, 2014

安田 哲之助        範士十段        沖縄剛柔流空手道総本部 順道館

Tatsuya Naka                      Shotokan Karate (guest)                                                      Photographed  July 16, 2014

中 達也                 松濤館流空手(ゲスト)

36       Choko Kiyuna, Hanshi 10th Dan, Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate                                        Photographed July 16, 2014

喜友名 朝孝 範士十段        沖縄少林流空手

37       Eishou Nakazato, Hanshi 10th Dan, Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate                                   Photographed July 16, 2014

仲里 栄昭     範士十段      沖縄少林流空手

38       Kazuo Uezato, Hanshi 10th-dan Okinawa Goju-ryu Tomari-te Karate do Kyoukai        Photographed July 16, 2014

上里  一雄    範士十段        沖縄剛柔流泊手 空手道協会

39       Eiki Kurashita, Hanshi 10th-dan,  Okinawa Goju-ryu International Karate Kobudo League   Photographed July 16, 2014

蔵下 英喜    範士十段        沖縄剛柔流国際空手古武道連盟

40       Minoru Higa, Hanshi 10th-dan,  Shorin-ryu Kyudokan Karate                                        Photographed July 16, 2014

比嘉稔   範士十段   小林流究道館空手

41       Koyu Higa,4th-dan,  Shorin-ryu Kyudokan Karate                                                          Photographed July 16, 2014

比嘉康雄  四段     少林流究道館空手

42       Masanobu Sakugawa, Hanshi 9th-dan,  Shorinji-ryu Karate                                           Photographed July 16, 2014

佐久川 政信     範士九段    少林寺流空手

43       Takashi Okuma, Hanshi 9th-dan,  Okinawa Goju-ryu Karatedo Kushinkan                  Photographed July 16, 2014

奥間 隆       範士九段      沖縄剛柔流    空手道 空心館

44       Masaaki Ikemiyagi,Hanshi 9th-dan,  Goju-ryu Okinawa Meibukan                               Photographed July 16, 2014

池宮城 政明   範士九段   剛柔流沖縄明武館

45       Senkichi Oyakawa, Hanshi 9th-dan,  Shorinji-ryu Karate                                                Photographed July 16, 2014

親川仙吉             範士九段     少林寺流空手

46       Seisho Itokazu, Hanshi 9th-dan,  Matayoshi Kobudo                                                        Photographed July 18, 2014

糸数 盛昌    範士九段 又吉古武道

47       Kiyomi Yogi,  6th-dan, Matayoshi Kobudo                                                                        Photographed July 18, 2014

與儀 清美    六段 又吉古武道

48       Masahiro Nakamoto, Hanshi 10th-dan,  Okinawa Dentou Kobudo                                Photographed July 18, 2014

仲本 政博         範士十段     沖縄伝統古武道

49       Mamoru Nakamoto, Kyoshi 8th-dan,  Okinawa Dentou Kobudo                                     Photographed July 18, 2014

仲本          教士八段  沖縄伝統古武道

50       Seiki Takushi, Hanshi 9th-dan,  Goju-ryu Karate                                                              Photographed July 18, 2014

沢岻 政輝   範士九段  剛柔流空手

51       Kotaro Iha, Hanshi 10th-dan,  Ryukyu Kobudo Ryu Kon Kai                                            Photographed July 18, 2014

伊波 光太郎 範士十段     琉球古武道流棍会

52       Morinobu Maeshiro, Hanshi 9th-dan,  Shorin-ryu                                                           Photographed September 1, 2014

真栄城 守信       範士九段 小林流

53       Haruyoshi Shimabukuro, Kyoushi 8th-dan,  Uechi-ryu Karate-do                                Photographed September 1, 2014

島袋 春吉               教士八段     上地流空手道

54       Koei Teruya, Hanshi 10th-dan,  Goju-ryu                                                                          Photographed September 1, 2014

照屋 幸栄   範士十段      剛柔流

55       Tsuguo Sakumoto, Hanshi 9th-dan,  Ryuei-ryu                                                                Photographed September 1, 2014

佐久本嗣男   範士九段    劉衛流

56       Hitoshi Oyakawa, Kyoshi 8th-dan,  Shorinji-ryu                                                               Photographed September 1, 2014

親川 仁志     教士八段      少林寺流

57       Morio Higaonna, Hanshi 10th-dan,  Okinawa Goju-ryu                                                   Photographed September 1, 2014

東恩納 盛男  範士十段      沖縄剛柔流

58       Tsutomu Nakahodo, Hanshi 10th-dan,  Shohei-ryu (Uechi-ryu)                                    Photographed September 1, 2014

仲程 力      範士十段     昭平流(上地流系)


59       Yoshimasa Matsuda, Hanshi 10th-danOkinawa Shorin-ryu Myobukan                                                 Photographed January 23, 2015

60       Hirokazu Matsuda, Shihan 7th-dan Okinawa Shorin-ryu Myobukan                                                     Photographed January 23, 2015

61       Masaharu Higa,    8th dan Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-Do Myobu-kan Yomitan Chapter Dojo              Photographed May 15, 2015

62       Katsuyoshi Chibana, 7th dan   Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-Do Myobu-kan Yomitan Chapter Dojo    Photographed May 15, 2015

63       Keishun Kakinohana, 9th dan Okinawa Karate-do Shorin Ryu Shorinkai                                            Photographed June 26, 2015

64       Hisatsugu Akaike,    Okinawa Karate-do Shorin Ryu Shorinkai                                                          Photographed June 26, 2015

65       Tsuneo Shimabukuro,  島袋常雄 9th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate, 9th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo                  Photographed September 16, 2015

66       Nobuko Oshiro, Kyoshi, 8th dan  Okinawa Karate-do Shorinryu, Taishinkan Association                  Photographed November 6, 2015

67       Yonamine Kousuke, Hanshi 10thdan  Okinawa Karate-do Shorinryu, Taishinkan Association   Ryukyu Kobudo Kenryoryu Association       Photographed December 18, 2015

68       Hiroshi Takamiyagi, Hanshi 10th dan  Goshukan Ryu Karatedo                                                           Photographed December 18, 2015

69       Maeshiro Shusei10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo                                              Photographed January 8, 2016

70       Teruya Masao10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo                                                   Photographed January 8, 2016

71       Shintoku Takara 10th dan Okinawa Uechi-ryu Karatedo Kyokai                                                          Photographed on July 11th, 2016

72       Kazuya Takara 8th dan  Okinawa Uechi-ryu Karatedo Kyokai                                                                 Photographed on July 11th, 2016

73       Takenori Uechi 5th dan   Okinawa Uechi-ryu Karatedo Kyokai                                                             Photographed on July 11th, 2016

74       Isao Yagi 9th dan Ryukyu Royal Family Martial Arts Bu Mai Moidi Motoburyu Gassen Tuidi School    Photographed on September 15th, 2016

75       Hatsuko Machida  町田初子 6th dan Uechi-ryu, Uechi-ryu Ageda Women’s Dojo                           Photographed on January 17th, 2017

76       Koichi Nakasone   9th-dan Ryukyu Kingdom Sui-di Bujutsu                                                                   Photographed on July 11th,  2017

77     Dell Hamby                6th dan Uechi-ryu Karate 6th dan Ryukyu Kobudo Shimbukan                          Photographed on July 25th,  2018

78     Yasuhiro Uema 上間 康弘      9th dan Shorin-ryu Karate,                                                        Photographed on July 27th,  2018

79     Masahiro Teruya 照屋雅浩               8th-dan Shorin-ryu Karate                                      Photographed on July 27th,  2018

80     Moriaki Shimabukuro島袋盛昭       8th dan Shorin-ryu Karate,                                               Photographed on July 27th,  2018

81     Takeshi Uema 上間健      7th-dan Shorin-ryu Karate                                                         Photographed on July 27th,  2018

82     Yoshitsune Senaga 上間健       10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate Do Kenseikai                                   Photographed on November 30th,  2018

83    Koichi Yamashiro 9th dan Matayoshi Kobudo Photographed on March 1st,  2019

84   Takeshi Tamaki 9th dan International Shogen-Ryu Karate Do Kyokai

85   Masahiko Tokashiki 8th dan International Shogen-Ryu Karate-Do Kyokai Photographed March 5th, 2019

86  Kiyomasa Maeda 10th dan   Okinawa Shogen-Ryu Karate-Do Association Photographed March 19th, 2019

87  Chikara Shinjo 7th dan   Okinawa Shogen-Ryu Karate-Do Association Photographed March 19th, 2019

88   Satoshi Tamashiro 6th dan   Okinawa Shogen-Ryu Karate-Do Association Photographed March 19th, 2019

89   Kenyu Chinen 9th-dan  World Oshukai Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate Do Kobudo Federation Photographed March 25th, 2019

90   Fusei Kise 10th dan Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo    Photographed April 13th, 2019

91   Isao Kise 10th dan Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo Photographed April 13th, 2019

92 Meitatsu Yagi  10th-dan International Meibukan Goju-ryu Karate-do Association    Photographed August 25th 2019 

93 Kiichi Nakamoto 10th-dan Goju-ryu Karate 10th dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu   Photographed August 25th 2019

94  Yae Takahashi 7th-dan Goju-ryu Karate-do / Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu    Photographed August 25th 2019

95  Seikichi Iha 10th-dan Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate, Beikoku Shidokan Karatedo Association  Photographed August 29th 2019


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    • It will be available through BLURB.com from mid November. We are currently in the process of showing test copies to the karate masters to get their feedback and to make final edits before it goes on sale.

  3. Steve says

    We’ll done James & Chris. What brilliant idea. I was in Okinawa training with Hokama Sensei while you where traveling round taking photos back in February this year. Good luck with it Steve from u.k sheffield

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  5. Paul Dupre says

    Congratulations on this Fine work of Art. Superb Photos. Many of these Masters have never had such great quality Photos available or taken of them. This is History in the making. These Photos and books will stand out as a snapshot in time of Okinawa, Karate, Kobudo, and the general state of Martial Arts at this time. Thank You !

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  7. Terry Maccarrone says

    Your work and record of present day 21 st century Okinawan masters is thoroughly appreciated
    The future generations will have the good fortune to know these teachers

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  9. Annie Levesque says


    On the Masters’ list of both volumes, I didn’t see Kenyu Chinen’s name. Is it a mistake because I saw pictures of him on your Facebook Masters page and I also saw is name in one of your articles?

    If so, can you tell me in which volume I’ll be able
    to find him?

    Thank you for your great job!

    • Volume 1 contained the first 58 masters photographed (March 2012 to September 2014)
      Volume 2 will hopefully be released in 2020. Kenyu Chinen was the 89th master I photographed so he will be in that volume.

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