Masahiro Nakamoto – Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto - Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto – Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto – Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo. Photographed inside and outside Naha’s Budokan on July 18th, 2014.

Masahiro Nakamoto - Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto – Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto - Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto – Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto - Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto – Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto - Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto – Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto - Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto – Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto - Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

Masahiro Nakamoto – Hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

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Soma Nomaoi – Mock Battles with Real Danger

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

As explained in the previous Soma Nomaoi blog, banners float down from the sky and riders who catch them win prizes. Obviously catching them inflight is the preferred method, which is why the men have canes with which to grab the banners. However, if the banner makes it to the floor, the brave will spring from their steed and, surrounded by galloping horses, make a grab for the banner.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Dozens of horses, ridden by men gazing skywards, all hurtling towards the same place. Ambulances are on standby.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

On two occasions horses were knocked to the ground, each time the rider’s leg was pinned beneath the horse’s flank. Eventually the horses got back to their feet, but in both cases the rider was taken off to hospital to get checked out.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Along with  Suwa’s Onbashira Festival, Soma Nomaoi is a spectacular festival that celebrates bravery and the samurai spirit.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

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Kiyomi Yogi, 6th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Kiyomi Yogi, 6th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Kiyomi Yogi, 6th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Kiyomi Yogi, 6th dan Matayoshi Kobudo, and the first female sensei to be photographed as part of the Karate Masters Portrait Project.

Kiyomi Yogi, 6th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Kiyomi Yogi, 6th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Kiyomi Yogi, 6th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Kiyomi Yogi, 6th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

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Soma Nomaoi, Shinki-Sodatsusen

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

If the kacchu-keiba (horse race) is analogous to the race into battle, then the shinki-sodatsusen is the battle itself. Here the riders test the skill, bravery and luck.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

The battle is made up of several skirmishes.  Each skirmish begins with a couple of fireworks blasted up into the sky. Each fireworks carry a banner which, after the explosion at altitude, come wafting back to earth. Any samurai who catches a banner, receives fame, glory and probably a few bit of yen.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

On a technical note these images were shot with the 645Z and the smc FA 645 300mm F4 ED (IF) which is equivalent of a 240mm on a FF35mm camera. I used a monopod to give some extra stability and it gave excellent results. The speed of the autofocus was slow, but it the overall sharpness was great.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

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Seisho Itokazu 9th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Seisho Itokazu  9th Dan  Matayoshi Kobudo

Seisho Itokazu 9th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Hanshi Seisho Itokazu, 9th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo. Photographed at the Budokan in Naha on July 18th, 2014.

Seisho Itokazu  9th Dan  Matayoshi Kobudo

Seisho Itokazu 9th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Seisho Itokazu  9th Dan  Matayoshi Kobudo

Seisho Itokazu 9th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

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Soma Nomaoi – Kacchu-keiba

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Carrying the flags of their houses, the riders race around the circuit.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

It’s always an interesting challenge trying to convey motion in a still image. I used a slow shutter speed and panned the camera with the subject. Get it right and you should get a blurry background while the subject remains relatively sharp.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

One rider was a young girl who galloped around the course with the men. I didn’t manage to get her name, but it was an impressive feat of horsemanship, irrespective of age or gender.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

The winners collected a piece of paper from the trackside umpires and then galloped up a zig-zag path through the crowd to top of the embankment where they collect their prizes.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

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Direction of Light

Masanobu Sakugawa 9th Dan, Shorinji-ryu

Masanobu Sakugawa 9th Dan, Shorinji-ryu

A couple of photographs showing the difference that changing the position of the light makes. Above from front right, below from front left. The great thing about having a voice activated light stand (James) is that we can quickly move the light from one side to the other, and get greater variety in shots.

Masanobu Sakugawa 9th Dan, Shorinji-ryu

Masanobu Sakugawa 9th Dan, Shorinji-ryu

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