World’s Largest Tug of War

Word's Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan

World’s Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan ( 2014 )

Last weekend was the world’s largest tug of war. It is held each year on route 58 in Naha City, Okinawa. First the two halves of the rope are joined together with a giant wooden pin. Kings of the west side and east side are then carried to the center of the rope.

Word's Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan

World’s Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan ( 2014 )

Thousands of spectators including Okinawans, tourists and local American military take part in the event pulling for either the East or West team.

Word's Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan

World’s Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan ( 2014 )

I was pleased that this year I could add to my selection of images of the tug of war . I already had a fantastic overview shot from 2010, but it was great to get some POV shots from the center of the action.

The above shots were all taken with the Pentax 645Z and the 25mm lens held above my head on a monopod. The photo below was with the Pentax 645D and 55mm.

Word's Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan ( 2010 )

World’s Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan ( 2010 )

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The curious case of the Flickr

Who's posting to my Flickr account?

Who’s posting to my Flickr account?

A strange thing happened the other day when I checked my Flickr page. Someone appeared to have hacked my account, logged in, uploaded several photos, and then tried to print one of my photos. They even took a screenshot as they tried to print, and they uploaded that too.

Immediately I started changing my passwords. If someone hacked my Flickr account maybe they had access to other accounts. I also contacted Flickr to try and sort out what was going on.

Who's trying to print my photos?

Who’s trying to print my photos?

Flickr got back to me promptly. It seems that I was “the innocent bystander to a Quality Assurance pass gone astray” and that my account had not been hacked.

It still seems very odd. Why would quality assurance be testing out uploading images to my stream, why leave the images on there, and why test out making prints?  Ironically assurance is exactly what I don’t now have in Flickr.

Until I spotted it, there were several photos that were not mine on my Flickr page. Viewers, and possibly potential clients, visiting my Flickr page would have been greeted by what appeared to be blatant copyright infringement on my behalf.

Anyone else out there had issues with their Flickr accounts being compromised?

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Okinawa 9 Exhibition

Okinawa 9

Okinawa 9

November 2nd to 6th, at the Tenbusu Building on Kokusai Street, Naha there will be a photo exhibition by 9 Okinawa based photographers. On the 2nd at 11AM there will be an opening reception party at the Tenebusu building.

Tenebusu Hall, Kokusai Street - Thanks Google Street View!

Tenebusu Hall, Kokusai Street – Thanks Google Street View!

It will be a great event so please check it out. We’ll each be showing some of our favorite images of Okinawa. I’ll be there for the opening on the 2nd, and regularly during the rest of the week. Here’s one of my pics that will be on display.

Chondara Clown entertains the crowds, Okinawa City, Okinawa 沖縄県、沖縄市 人々を楽しませるチョンダラー

Chondara Clown entertains the crowds, Okinawa City, Okinawa
沖縄県、沖縄市 人々を楽しませるチョンダラー

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Typhoon Vongfong – Aftermath

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Typhoon Vongfong brought strong winds and rain, but the number of injuries and the amount of damage was smaller than it could have been.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Out at Cape Zanpa, power lines had come down, and the fence for the goats was on its side. The goats had sensibly opted to stay next to their shelter rather than escape.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Up north, large waves had covered parts of the coastal roads with a layers of debris.  The expressways were closed until Sunday afternoon due to strong winds.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Falling trees knocked down several power lines, and there were numerous small landslides.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Typhoons however are just part of life on Okinawa, as Trevor and I drove around on Sunday morning to get pictures for news agencies, the main roads had already been cleared of larger debris.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Teams from the electrical companies were out fixing the power lines, and road crews were cleaning small landslides.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

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Typhoon Vongfong – Arrival of the storm

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

The Lab Reports are all on the Chris Willson Photography page, but here are a few less dog centric shots from Typhon Vongfong.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

Super Typhoon Vongfong hits Okinawa, Japan.

12.51PM Saturday, the U.S. military bases have been on lock down for hours. Some Okinawans make a final rush to the 24-hour Family Mart convenience store before it closes at 1pm due to the strength of Super Typhoon Vongfong.

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Ryukyu Dance – Kazue Higa performs at the National Theatre Okinawa

Ryukyu Dance - Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

Ryukyu Dance – Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

I photographed dancer Kazue Higa performing at the National Theatre Okinawa last weekend. A wonderful opportunity to see such a spectacle, and to be allowed to take an enormous camera, tripod and telephoto lens into the theatre.

Ryukyu Dance - Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

Ryukyu Dance – Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

After I have a chat with Higa-san I will update this post in the near future giving details of the costumes and dances performed in each of these pics.

Ryukyu Dance - Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

Ryukyu Dance – Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

These were all photographed with the Pentax 645Z and the 300mm f4 ED lens at 1/100 sec ISO 400 at f4.5

Ryukyu Dance - Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

Ryukyu Dance – Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

Ryukyu Dance - Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

Ryukyu Dance – Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

Ryukyu Dance - Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

Ryukyu Dance – Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

Ryukyu Dance - Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

Ryukyu Dance – Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

Ryukyu Dance - Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

Ryukyu Dance – Kazue Higa at the National Theatre Okinawa.

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50 Years of Bullet Trains

Bullet Time

Bullet Time

Something I wrote for the Asahi Weekly back in 2002. (I am now aware that The Little Engine that Could is an American book, and said “I thought I could, I thought I could” on the way down.)

Trainspotting

Most English and Japanese people like trains. Both countries have an extensive rail network, both have groups of avid trainspotters, and both countries love Thomas the Tank Engine.

Possibly the two most famous fictional trains in Britain are The Little Engine That Could and The Hogwarts Express. The Little Engine That Could said “I think I can, I think I can,” as he struggled to the top of the mountain and then, “I knew I could, I knew I could” all the way down the other side. The Hogwarts Express left platform nine and three-quarters and took Harry Potter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. If these fictional trains actually had to deal with the real British rail system, then the stories might be a little different. The Little Engine That Could would have decided that it couldn’t be bothered and Harry Potter, due to a derailment or a rail strike, would have never made it to Hogwarts.

Slow, unreliable, and expensive. Trains in Britain are about as effective as inflatable dartboards. Things in Japan, however, are different.
My first train journey in Japan was from Narita International Airport to Tokyo and then on to Niigata. Once I had bought my ticket, a station worker showed me exactly where to stand on the platform. Dead on schedule, the train I wanted pulled into the station, its doors opening directly in front of me. It was obvious that time keeping was something that was expected rather than hoped for by train users in Japan.
From Tokyo to Niigata I took the Shinkansen bullet train. If British trains are equivalent to old family cars then Shinkansen are like Rolls-Royces. Not only can they go faster, but they do it without making it look or sound difficult.
Britain now has some high-speed cross-country trains; it does not, however, have high-speed train tracks. This means that for the moment these new trains are restricted to a more mundane pace.

Japan doesn’t appear to be resting on its laurels. The Nozomi bullet train that runs between Osaka and Tokyo already travels at an amazing 280kph.But a current research project is developing a maglev (magnetically levitated) train that has been tested at speeds of over 550kph.

England seems to be great at creating fictional trains, but it needs to invest in the real ones as well. If it followed Japan’s example, England might even manage to get the new trains to run on time.

 

Shooting some stock video of a bullet train in Tokyo with my friend Damon Coulter. Must learn to shut up when filming rather than chat away with the intention of removing the sound later.

Bullet Trains

Bullet Trains

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